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  • chris-marcatili

Farewell Freilich

It's mid-pandemic. I was three years into launching my own editing business, and though things had been going well they were starting to look dire. My main clients – academics – were suddenly finding their grant funds frozen by anxious universities and PhD students were being told to take all the time they needed to complete their theses. Great for them, but tough on someone whose whole business model depended on the churning out of publications in the academic sector.

Enter the Freilich Project. I heard about them through someone who knew someone. Now twenty-five years young, the Freilich Project was founded to support research into the histories, causes, and impacts of bigotry (broadly understood). It's a research body with a very wide remit and very limited resources. I reached out, interviewed, and got a job as a project officer. I worked remotely two days a week from my studio in Sydney, calling into the office on ANU campus in Canberra every few weeks and chipping away at things. Starting small, but soon getting bigger.

When I moved to Canberra, the scope of the work broadened. I was quickly meeting academics, artists, ambassadors... I supported the research of many early career academics interested in difficult issues. I helped out with We Bleed the Same, a national photography exhibition. The thing I enjoyed most was bringing together academics and artists interested in the intersections of creativity and bigotry into a workshop, which was a real pleasure. With Melissa Lovell's leadership, there was a great deal of trust and freedom to explore ideas and issues that sadly remain incredibly important today.

I started at the Freilich Project in 2021, when many things in the world seemed uncertain. I leave now at the end of this month. A lot still seems uncertain in the world today, though perhaps for different reasons. I see bigotry even more elevated now than it was just a few short years ago. Still, it's been a great pleasure to support the work done here. Hope it does many important and impactful things in future.



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