Sydney Theatre gets a new name, becomes Roslyn Packer Theatre

Sydney Theatre Company announced today that Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay will be renamed Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay.

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.

Soon we'll all be calling this theatre "The Ros." Image by Grant Sparkes-Carroll
Soon we’ll all be calling this theatre “The Ros.” Image by Grant Sparkes-Carroll

Effective from March 2015, the renaming is to honor Roslyn Packer and her ongoing generous support of and commitment to the arts in Australia. Roslyn Packer is regarded as one of Australia’s most significant arts benefactors.

Packer’s relationship with Sydney Theatre Company began at the company’s inception over 30 years ago, and has only grown stronger over time. She is one of the Company’s core group of philanthropists who give, often anonymously, in order that Australian culture can flourish.

Roslyn Packer said “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 Artistic Director Andrew Upton said: “Ros has been a great friend to STC and the arts community for a very long time and I think this is a great way to acknowledge her tireless commitment, much of which flies beneath the radar.

“When we sit down to enjoy a show at The Ros (as we have already begun to call it) I hope we can occasionally remember that, increasingly in this country, the generosity of individuals makes possible the work of Australian artists – and in particular works of scale and ambition.”

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.

Sydney Theatre Company 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.

Roslyn Packer in the theatre that's soon to bear her name. Image by James Green.
Roslyn Packer in the theatre that’s soon to bear her name. Image by James Green.

“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.”

Packer is well-known to be generous and engaged with many causes. 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.

Her many previous board memberships include with the Sydney Festival, the Council of the National Gallery of Australia, the Advisory Committee of Christies Australia, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St. Vincent’s Private Hospital. The long list of the many organisations to which she has given generously in addition to STC includes the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Centenary Patron and Foundation Governor); the Hunter Valley Community Foundation (inaugural Patron); National Trust of Australia (NSW Life Member from 1964); Opera Australia (Patron Program and Benefactor Patron from 1992); Sydney Opera House (Chairman’s Leadership Circle 2008); Sculpture by the Sea; The Australian Ballet (member of the Les Etoiles Group from 2006); the Venice Biennale (Champion Donor 2005 – 2009); and Governor Sir Roden and Lady Cutler Foundation.

Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said: “With this renaming, we salute a great patron of the arts for her long term investment in the creative future of our city.

“NSW is internationally recognised for its creative talent and Ros Packer has been a passionate advocate and supporter. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute for a woman who has given so much to theatre and the arts more broadly,” Mr Grant said.

The soon-to-be Roslyn Packer Theatre is an 850 seat theatre owned by NSW State Government and managed by Sydney Theatre Company.

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. 

The most recent productions in the theatre have been STC’s Macbeth (in which the audience sat on the stage and the actors performed in the auditorium), Sydney Dance Company’s Louder Than Words, and Lunchbox Touring’s Potted Potter. 

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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