Sydney Opera House Presents
Contemporary culture beneath the sails
The Opera House’s own presenting arm, Sydney Opera House Presents, was founded more than 15 years ago to complement the work of its resident companies. It delivers a bold and inspiring annual contemporary program that reflects the work and stories of artists from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences.
Led by Fiona Winning, working closely with a skilled in-house team of genre experts and in collaboration with the vibrant Australian and international arts community, Sydney Opera House Presents programs almost 800 performances a year attended by more than 400,000 people. The program presents exceptional contemporary performances and cultural events in the areas of Contemporary Music; Contemporary Performance; Contemporary Art; First Nations; Talks & Ideas; Children, Families & Creative Learning; Classical Music; Artist & Sector Development; as well as the Screen program, enabling Sydney Opera House to reach beyond the site to a global audience.
Each year, Sydney Opera House Presents hosts its annual flagship festivals All About Women, a vibrant day of discussion about gender, justice and equality, Vivid LIVE, a contemporary music takeover of iconic and ambitious artists, and DanceRites, Australia’s national First Nations dance competition and a celebration of the world’s oldest continuous culture.
The Opera House’s Contemporary Music program presents artists both esteemed and beloved, singular voices performing in one of the major art forms of our time on one of the world’s most iconic stages, from the legends of today to those of tomorrow.
Contemporary Performance presents ambitious world-class music theatre, cabaret, circus, magic, contemporary dance, theatre, comedy, immersive theatre and site-specific work from Australia and the world.
Contemporary art at the Sydney Opera House is guided by the promise that visual artists can challenge us to experience the world anew. With an emphasis on commissioning and exhibiting the artists of today, the twentieth century architectural icon is situated as a catalyst for visual artists to stage open-ended exhibitions, installations and projects that offer insights into the most pressing cultural, political and social questions of our society.
The Children, Families & Creative Learning program has engaged 351,681 people digitally and onsite in 2021 with events and experiences that playfully encourage creativity and life-long learning. In 1977, just four years after the Sydney Opera House opened, programming began for children, families and their caregivers to inspire creative thinking in a building synonymous with imagination and innovation.
Great orchestral music is woven into the fabric of the Sydney Opera House – it helped inspire its creation, and will always be part of its future. The Sydney Opera House Presents’ classical music program showcases and celebrates a diverse array of orchestral and chamber music from celebrated international symphony orchestras, ensembles and soloists, to home-grown Australian classical music masters and experimental contemporary ensembles, giving audiences the chance to experience the world’s finest musicians playing classical music both at its grandest and most intimate.
For over a decade, the Opera House’s Screen program has engaged tens of millions of people around the world through live performance recordings, original screen commissions, short documentaries and podcast series.
The Opera House’s First Nations program continues the traditions of Bennelong Point, formerly known as Tubowgule, which has a long history as a place of gathering, feasting, singing, dancing and storytelling for the local Gadigal people.
Sydney Opera House’s Talks and Ideas program ensures the iconic venue continues to be a place of ideas, debate, and imaginative thinking, offering panel discussions and conversations on pressing issues in the community to large-scale events featuring celebrated writers, thinkers, and social commentators. Our year-round programming has featured some of the most exciting names in current affairs and contemporary culture, including Ronan Farrow, Zadie Smith, Michael Pollan, Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jennette McCurdy, Ai Weiwei, Fran Lebowitz, and many others.
Fiona Winning - Director, Programming
Fiona is a leader in the performing arts sector with a diverse career in independent and commercial performing arts across contemporary performance, theatre, dance and festivals. She was Sydney Festival Head of Programming from 2012 to 2017, presenting works by inspirational Australian and international artists in venues across the city. Previously, Fiona worked as a dramaturge and producer in contemporary arts, curating the Australian Theatre Forum in 2011 and co-convening the Bundanon Trust’s annual Siteworks event in 2010-11.
From 1999 to 2008, Fiona was Director of Performance Space, a national contemporary arts hub based in Sydney. In this role, she collaborated with artists and communities to conceive and produce events in theatres, galleries and public spaces, as well as developing a range of festival, training and residency programs. She was instrumental in the development of Carriageworks, collaborating with the arts sector, Arts NSW and architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer. Fiona is also a lecturer and co-designer of NIDA’s landmark Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) course.