Beseda is a Czechoslovak-Australian Association of Canberra and Region, Inc., Australia.
The club’s main activity is to organise and host cultural, social and sporting activities, including Czech and Slovak language classes, in an endeavour to revive and maintain the languages, cultural heritage and national traditions of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The club also creates opportunities to get together and socialise for both members of the Czech and Slovak communities, as well as anyone else interested in Czech and Slovak language, heritage and culture.
Beseda Committee 2020/2021
President: Milena Švehla
Senior Vice President: Aleš Zezulka
Secretary: Lucie Gryczová
Treasurer: Dominika Fusková
Editor & Public Officer: Jiří George Skočilas
Librarian: Dominika Fusková, Veronika Kurková
Czech School: Daniela Wadey
Nicola Jelínková, Jiří Mikušek
Social and cultural activities are held in the club building in Queanbeyan. There is a library with over 2000 Czech and Slovak books complete with a cosy reading room. Films are shown on a super-screen in the hall, which also features a small stage and very good acoustics, enjoyed by visiting performing artists.
The first floor hosts a club room for smaller group activities, e. g. talks on various topics, or wine and cheese tastings or library meetings.
Two rooms on the upper floor are also dedicated Czech and Slovak school classrooms.
Activities at Beseda include
- Cultural events
- Czech and Slovak language classes
- Table tennis evenings/tournaments
- Social activities (indoors/outdoors)
- Library with Czech and Slovak books
- Movie afternoons
- Sport afternoons
Beseda was founded by a group of Czechoslovak migrants who were living in Australia since the early fifties last century. When another wave of refugees arrived in Australia after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw pakt armies in August 1968 they decided to establish an organisation that would bring together all people of Czechoslovak origin or descent and their friends interested in mutual friendship.
The club’s main activity back in the day was helping newcomers to orient themselves in an unknown world – find a place to live, look for employment and assist them in their contact with authorities. Beseda also pursued cultural, social and sporting activities in endeavour to revive and maintain the languages, cultural heritage and national traditions from the old country as well as familiarise with the cultural and ethnic heritage of Australia.
By the time the Association officially registered in January 1972, a monthly magazine Beseda was already distributed to all compatriots. During the next years Beseda continued in the initial activities and members also founded a dance group. In close cooperation with Czechoslovak groups in Sydney came to fruition theatre performances and celebrations of memorable anniversaries. In view of Canberra‘s population, Beseda had about 160 members; presently there are around 140 members. After a short pause the magazine is being issued again since 1994 on a regular basis with an improved appearance.
Social and cultural activities were held in the club facilities of the Polish community and since March 2000 Beseda has its own club house; it was officially opened at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of T. G. Masaryk‘s birthday. Finances for purchasing the building were provided by collecting over several years into a Building fund; almost all interior refurbishment was done by voluntary work of dedicated members.