Bell Shakespeare receives major $3 million gift from Neilson Foundation to fund new studio

Bell-Shakespeare-Walsh-Bay-Arts-PrecinctThe Neilson Foundation has gifted Bell Shakespeare $3 million in support of its new flexible studio and theatre space at Pier 2/3 once the company moves into the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct later this year.

This is the largest single gift Bell Shakespeare has received in its 31-year history, and it is delighted to name its new studio The Neilson Nutshell in recognition of the Neilson Foundation’s support.

Bell Shakespeare’s new home at Pier 2/3 will feature 1,700sqm of space over three levels, including The Neilson Nutshell. This multipurpose studio space will be used for rehearsals, performances and events, with 357sqm of floor space as well as two dressing rooms.

Featuring a fully flexible seating system with capacity for up to 296 people in multiple configurations, The Neilson Nutshell will have direct views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and will provide an intimate setting to engage new and existing audiences and provide opportunities to partner with a range of organisations to support a vibrant cultural sector.

“Bell Shakespeare is a vital part of the artistic community in Australia, and we’re delighted to be a part of its future,” said Founder and Director of the Neilson Foundation, Kerr Neilson. “The Neilson Foundation is committed to furthering opportunities for artists and arts workers as well as increasing access to audiences and broader communities.

“We have a long relationship with Bell Shakespeare through its education and outreach work which takes Shakespeare’s works to all corners of the country, including to young people in Youth Justice centres.”

“We are delighted to be deepening our relationship with Bell Shakespeare by supporting The Neilson Nutshell at Pier 2/3 which will be an invaluable new space for the company to bring Shakespeare to Australian audiences,” said Mr Neilson.

Neilson Foundation has a long history and reputation of philanthropic leadership, and over the past five years has given almost $1 million to Bell Shakespeare’s education program. This has supported more than 197 young people who have participated in the company’s Youth Justice Program and almost 400,000 students and teachers through the company’s education program delivered in every state and territory, including regional and remote communities.

“We are so grateful to the Neilson Foundation for this incredibly generous gift that will go such a long way in supporting the future of Bell Shakespeare,” said Bell Shakespeare Artistic Director Peter Evans. “Not only will it help us establish our very first multi-purpose performance space, it will also underpin our plans for an artistic ensemble and support our programming for the next several years.

“It is truly transformational, and we wholeheartedly thank the Neilson family who have been long-time supporters of Bell Shakespeare and who continue to provide such widespread support across the arts sector.”

Bell Shakespeare’s relocation to Pier 2/3 is an infrastructure project led by the NSW Government to establish the Walsh Bay Arts and Cultural Precinct and deliver a world class cultural and creative hub, and will provide space for artists, production and administrative staff, students, teachers, and patrons. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Walsh Bay Arts Precinct – photo courtesy of Bell Shakespeare