Sydney Theatre to be renamed in honour of one of Australia’s leading arts philanthropists.

Sydney Theatre Company has announced that the 850-seat Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay is to be renamed the Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay from March 2015 onwards in recognition of the philanthropist and arts lover’s support and commitment to the arts in Australia.

“Ros has been a great friend to STC and the arts community for a very long time,” said Artistic Director Andrew Upton. “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.”

The architecturally acclaimed theatre, which is owned by the NSW State Government, is leased, operated and managed by STC. The former cargo storage site from the 1830’s had fallen into disrepair by the 1970s but in 2004 was made over into a theatre which hosts both STC mainstage shows, Sydney Dance Company performances and touring productions.

Roslyn Packer AO is generally regarded as one of Australia’s most significant benefactors of the arts, having given tirelessly for over 40 years. “Roslyn’s enduring relationship with STC since its formation more than 30 years ago has become even stronger in recent years,” the company said in their press statement. “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.”

Last year the Packer family made the largest-ever single philanthropic gift to an Australian performing arts company, when they gave $15M to STC to assist the redevelopment of The Wharf.

Responding to the announcement, Roslyn Packer said that she is “profoundly honoured and touched” 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.”

As well as her noted patronage of STC, Roslyn Packer also sits on the Board of Trustees of St. Vincent’s Clinic Foundation and is a Director of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation. Her many previous board memberships include the Sydney Festival and the Council of the National Gallery of Australia, while her previous giving has included the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Sydney Opera House, Sculpture by the Sea and The Australian Ballet.

Supporting the move, President of the Art Gallery of NSW, Steven Lowy, said the Packer family’s contribution to their home town of Sydney was remarkable. “Ros has been a constant and driving force behind so much that is great about Sydney in the arts and in medical research,” he said. “She has gone about this quietly and with great humility and the scale of her work and generosity has not received due recognition. The naming of this theatre will be an enduring tribute to one of our most admired and committed philanthropists.”

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