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2008 Corporate Media Release - Annual Report 2006/07

Issued 1 January 2008

The number of people coming to performances at Sydney Opera House grew 7% to more than 1.2 million last year, with the greatest increase for shows specifically for young people - up 16.5%.

The 2006/07 Annual Report shows a record year for audience and tourist numbers, with a growing number keen to learn about the building by taking a tour. This interest was stimulated by Sydney Opera House’s inclusion on the World Heritage List as “an indisputable masterpiece of human creativity”. 

In total, Sydney Opera House staged 1,595 performances ranging across classical and contemporary music and dance, theatre, comedy, film, circus, jazz, cabaret and world music to capture the new brand thrust of Live Performance Every Day.

Highlights included the first Australian tour of the Vienna Philharmonic, the new work Honour Bound, free simulcasts of performances by the Vienna Philharmonic and Opera Australia to large outdoor crowds, and the introduction of a ‘high tea and opera experience’.

A not-for-profit organisation, Sydney Opera House was able to expand its artistic endeavours with support from individual and corporate donors to a new Annual Giving Program.      

Major Presenters

  • Sydney Opera House Performance Program - 313,727 patrons: 703 performances
  • Opera Australia - 243,739 patrons: 179 performances
  • Sydney Symphony - 192,705 patrons: 95 performances
  • The Australian Ballet - 115,005 patrons: 93 performances 
  • Sydney Theatre Company - 98,173 patrons: 203 performances
  • Bell Shakespeare Company - 53,149 patrons: 128 performances  

Performing Arts

  • Total attendances grew by 7% to 1,212,270.
  • Performances produced by Sydney Opera House achieved a 68% growth in audiences to 313,727. Of these, 73,625 attended shows especially for young people - up 16.5%.  The contemporary theatre presented in the Kids at the House and House:Ed programs resonated strongly with young people, while the 135 Babies Proms performances sold out. The Proms played to 29,667 children and found new devotees in 17 towns in regional NSW.
  • Sydney Opera House and Malthouse Theatre commissioned Honour Bound which was based on the experience of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay. Following local success, it toured to the Vienna and Holland Festivals and The Barbican.
  • The free Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival featured 13 short films as well as the premiere of Crocodile Dreaming starring David Gulpilil.
  • The new Utzon Room Music Series sold out concerts by Utzon Ensemble, Sydney Soloists, Flinders Quartet and Joseph Tawadros Trio.


  • People taking guided tours increased 21% to 328,224. Of these, backstage tours attracted 1,630 people and Asian Language Tours attracted 77,198 people in their first full year of operation.
  • The new High Tea at Sydney Opera House blended an intimate rendering of popular opera with a high tea prepared by celebrated chef Guillaume Brahimi. With high teas ‘sold out’, more frequent events were scheduled.

 The Business

  • 31.7% of tickets were sold online, up from 28.6% the previous year.
  • Sydney Opera House generated 78% of its income; the remainder was supplied by the NSW Government.

The Organisation

  • Dr Norman Gillespie completed a five-year term as Chief Executive. Richard Evans was appointed as his replacement, to commence late January 2008. Sue Nattrass AO was the interim CEO.
  • Rachel Healy was appointed Director Performing Arts and David Antaw Director Finance and Systems. Sue Nattrass AO, Evan Williams AM and Wesley Enoch joined the Sydney Opera House Trust.
  • Staff undertook 7000 hours of training and an Indigenous Graduate Traineeship Program was introduced to supplement entry-level traineeship opportunities.

The Building 

  • Sydney Opera House was World Heritage Listed on 28 June 2007, the youngest cultural site ever included. 
  • Work began to improve the Western Foyers and install a lift and escalators into the main building.
  • The two Sydney Opera House stores and tour desk areas were renovated to improve display and customer traffic flow.
  • A Lighting Master Plan was developed and investigations began into improving the acoustics of the Concert Hall.


  • Sydney Opera House assisted some 40 charities and community groups from local public schools and kindergartens to organisations such as Australian Youth Orchestra, Indigenous Women's Forum and the Gundagai Neighbourhood Centre for drought relief.
  • The lights of the sails were turned pink to promote breast cancer awareness in October 2006 and dimmed for Earth Hour in March 2007 as an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In June, a concert by Tania Libertad was the first 100% carbon neutral event held at the House.   
  • The first year of the Balnaves Foundation Open House Program subsidised ticket prices to five different performances so that more than 1000 people from disadvantaged communities could attend, paying only $5 each.
  • As a result of support from the Clara Varga Foundation, Sydney Opera House expanded the Arts Assist Program which offers free transport and substantially discounted tickets for educational performances to Priority Funded Schools in NSW.  Over the past three years, more than 3,000 students have benefited thanks to funding from Arts NSW and Sydney Opera House.


  • Corporate awards include the Australian Business Arts Foundation Regional Award, a Gold Australasian Reporting Award and an Industry Achievement Award from the Facilities Management Association of Australia.
  • Honour Bound won the Sydney Theatre Award for Best New Australian Work, Best Score or Sound Design and the top award, Best Mainstage Production.

View the 2006/07 Annual Report.


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