Sydney Theatre to be renamed Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay

Sydney TheatreSydney Theatre Company (STC) has announced that Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay is to be renamed Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay, effective from March 2015.

The renaming is in recognition of Roslyn Packer’s decades-long, generous support and commitment to the arts in Australia. For over 40 years, Roslyn Packer AO has played a leading role in campaigns for giving to a wide range of charities and is regarded as one of Australia’s most significant benefactors of the arts.

Roslyn’s enduring relationship with STC since its formation more than 30 years ago has become even stronger in recent years. Her well-informed, broad theatrical tastes and enormous enthusiasm make her one of STC’s most engaged and valued patrons. She is one of the Company’s core group of philanthropists who give, often anonymously, in order that Australian culture can flourish.

Her generosity has extended to public and private advocacy across many organisations throughout her life. She is currently on the Board of Trustees of St. Vincent’s Clinic Foundation as well as being Patron of the Friends of St. Vincent’s Private Hospital. She is also a Director of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation.

Last year the Packer family, in conjunction with the Crown Resorts Foundation, made the largest-ever single philanthropic gift to an Australian performing arts company, pledging $15M to STC towards the Company’s essential redevelopment of its home base, The Wharf.

Additionally, $15M was given to other arts organisations including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Bangarra Dance Theatre, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Dance Company and an extraordinary further $30M was bestowed to arts activities in Western Sydney.

It is hoped that the renaming of Sydney Theatre, as well as honouring a great supporter of the arts, will act as an inspiration to other philanthropists generally.

Roslyn Packer said she is “profoundly honoured and touched” at the news, adding: “Philanthropic giving is vital to the future of the arts in Australia. It is my hope that others who are in a position to do so will join me in helping to build on the phenomenal strength of the Australian cultural sector that we are so fortunate to enjoy and to benefit from.”

STC Chairman David Gonski said: “Ros has been one of the biggest (non-artist) contributors both in time and money to the arts generally in Australia and to STC over many, many years. Given that, the board of the STC thought this a very appropriate way to acknowledge one of Australia’s most generous arts supporters.”

“We are pleased to rename a space in her honour that is central to STC’s future as well as one that regularly hosts the best of local and international work.”

The 850 seat venue opened in 2004 as a centrepiece of the rejuvenated Walsh Bay as a major arts precinct. During its first ten years the theatre has been the originating site of iconic productions such as STC’s The Secret River, Uncle Vanya, Gross und Klein (Big and Small), The Lost Echo and The War of the Roses, Sydney Dance Company’s Mercury and Shared Frequencies and international presentations including the Schaubühne Hamlet, Steppenwolf’s August: Osage County and the National Theatre’s The History Boys.

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Image: Sydney Theatre – photo courtesy of Sydney Theatre Company