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Illustration of a scaled down Sydney Opera House surrounded by a large colourful crowd of people, diverse in gender, race and identity.

Artwork by Opera House staff member Saima Beg, in response to the theme ‘belonging’. See pages 34-37 in the strategy for more staff submissions on belonging.

Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging

The Opera House plays an important role in shaping our nation, life and culture. As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are setting out the positive change we want to drive over the next two years, and beyond. Because we have a committed workforce. Because it will make the Opera House a better place for everyone. Because what we do next will inspire others.

Our vision for diversity, inclusion and belonging
The Sydney Opera House – who we are and everything we do – reflects and respects the diversity of the community.

Two indigenous dancers in red from Janawi Dance Clan centre stand on top of the Sydney Opera House main sail. One holds the Aboriginal flag as it waves in the wind and the other native plant leaves. Against a clear blue sky, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and harbour are visible in the background.

Dancers from the Jannawi Dance Clan on the Opera House sails for Dancerites 2019. Image credit: Daniel Boud

Acknowledgement of Country

The Sydney Opera House acknowledges the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, traditional custodians of Tubowgule, the land on which Australia’s most iconic building and premier performing arts centre stands.

We honour the long Gadigal history of gathering and storytelling, and celebrate the strength and resilience of First Nations people and communities, past and present. This proud heritage inspires the Opera House’s ambition to foster a shared sense of belonging for all Australians.

What do we mean by Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging?

Diversity

The range of people throughout the organisation – ‘who’s making decisions, being recruited, and promoted’ – and the programming and experiences we offer.

Inclusion

Respecting and celebrating our differences – and what we have in common – in the way we work and how we treat each other.

Belonging

Creating an equitable and welcoming environment in which everyone – all staff, artists, audiences and visitors – feels accepted and supported.

The Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Strategy will guide us in achieving
our ...

Vision

To be as bold and inspiring as the Opera House itself

Mission

  • To treasure and renew the Opera House for future generations of artists, audiences and visitors
  • To inspire, and strengthen the community, through everything we do

Values

  • Creativity
  • Excellence
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability
  • Safety

Read Sydney Opera House 2018-23 Strategy here.

The strategy is also aligned with our commitment to the UN Global Goals.

 Photograph of the Sydney Opera House reflected symmetrically on a glass facade. A soft light illuminates the building under an overcast sky and a ferry passes in front of the building.

Image credit: Daniel Boud

Guiding principles


Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging is supported by area-specific action plans that work hand in hand with our strategies, business plans, community action plans and UN Global Goals commitments. Together, they guide a cohesive, coordinated approach to positive change.

Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging is everyone’s responsibility, individually and collectively – in how we behave, make decisions and treat each other every day.

We commit to clear measures, timing and responsibilities, and provide regular updates on implementation, including progress reports to our staff, Trustees and community.
 

We take a broad and holistic approach to diversity, including expanding current focus areas (First Nations, disability, LGBTIQ+, women) to include cultural and linguistic diversity (CALD), neurodiversity, age and modes of employment.

Decisions are made in consultation with members of any groups affected by the decision.
 

We invest the energy, focus and financial resources required to bring about meaningful change.

We maximise our impact and inspire others through collaboration with the Opera House’s many stakeholders – government, on-site operators, contractors, suppliers, resident companies and hirers, corporate partners and donors.

Artworks

To help bring the concepts and words in this strategy to life, we commissioned works by these three Australian artists.

Simple cartoon figure in gray of rounded man with his mouth open speaking, outlined in fluro green left. He has a heart shaped hole in his chest. He holds a smiling heart in his outstretched hand to the right. Speech bubble top of image Listen to my heart text in fluro green capitals. Bottom right under hand Listen to my Words in bright orange capitals. Soft purple background with pastel lines overlaid in a water texture pattern.

Jason Phu – Diversity

Jason Phu, And don’t talk over me please (2021), digital image. Commissioned by the Sydney Opera House for its Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Strategy. Image courtesy of the artist.

“Listen to my heart, don’t listen to people’s farts. Listen to my words, don’t listen to internet turds. And don’t talk over me please with your mouthful of bees.”

About Jason Phu Lives and works across Sydney and Melbourne, Australia

Artist Jason Phu’s multidisciplinary practice brings together a wide range of sometimes contradictory references, from traditional ink paintings and calligraphy to mass-produced objects, everyday vernacular to official records, personal narratives to historical events. Working across drawing, installation, painting and performance, the artist frequently uses humour to explore experiences of cultural dislocation. Recent exhibition projects include: the Dobell Drawing Biennale (2018) at the Art Gallery of NSW; Primavera (2018) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and The Burrangong Affray (2019) at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Jason was the inaugural Art Assembly artist project in 2019, commissioned for the Opera House’s Antidote festival.

Stylised painting of Sydney Opera House outlined in thick black lines that exaggerate the shapes within the building segments in top half of image. These are lime green in colour, covered in pink and orange dashes. Overlaid are small yellow fluro dots like sparkles that extend to the dark blue night sky behind. Larger star shapes, yellow with brown dots fill the sky with a round moon with a happy face and toothy smile. The bottom half of the image is light blue with dark blue and gray curved lines representing waves.

Emily Crockford – Inclusion

Emily Crockford, The Phantom Oprah House (2021), acrylic on canvas. Commissioned by the Sydney Opera House for its Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Strategy. Image courtesy of the artist and Studio A.

“Over the sea is the Oprah house and Sydney Bridge. The waves bring the water and the bridge brings the cars and trains. Lots of people. All kinds of people. My Coco Opera house is made of dark chocolate and white chocolate.”

About Emily Crockford Lives and works in Sydney, Australia under Studio A

Emily Crockford, a Studio A artist, has a long exhibition history and is well known for her major public art commissions. She has been an artist-in-residence at Cicada Press, UNSW Art & Design and Koskela, and has collaborated with established designers Corban & Blair and One Another. Her recent exhibition projects include: Suburbia (2018) at Cement Fondu; Sydney, Good Neighbours (2017) at Artbank, Sydney; and the Archibald Prize (2020) at the Art Gallery of NSW. Her public art projects appear at Westpac’s Concord offices, the City of Sydney Creative Hoardings Project and the University of Technology, Sydney.

Sydney Opera House sails shapes painted in thick white brushstrokes in centre. One sail faces left and one right with grey inserts. They sit on a sand coloured base partially covered with dark green brushstrokes. The sky is solid dark blue. In front of the sails are two stylised figures. On the left is a figure with black skin in white with blue highlights in a wheelchair. On the right is a standing figure with brown skin, black hair, yellow top and back pants. Cursive writing overlays top half of image. Orange text We went to Sydney Opera House as Jennifer Marlene and Judith Sally. Blue text. See our movies. See our stories.

Sally M. Nangala Mulda – Belonging

Sally M. Nangala Mulda, Judith, Marlene, Sally and Jennifer (2021), acrylic on linen. Commissioned by the Sydney Opera House for its Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy. Image courtesy of the artist and Tangentyere Artists.
 
“Marlene and I grew up together at Amoonguna and now we are both Town Camp Artists. Last year we went to Sydney Opera House together to see our films on the Opera House. We are both about the same age as that building. It is for everyone.”

About Sally M. Nangala Mulda Lives and works in Mparntwe, Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Sally M. Nangala Mulda was born in Titjikala, south of Mparntwe (Alice Springs), to parents from the Erldunda and Aputula regions. She went to school at Amoonguna. After losing the use of her left arm in a childhood accident, Mulda later faced the challenge of losing sight in one eye. Mulda had never painted before joining Tangentyere Artists, an artist centre, in 2008. From the outset, Mulda sought to record the interactions that constitute life for so many Aboriginal people today. Mulda belongs to the Titjikala community, Central Desert region and her language group is Luritja, Central Desert region. Her recent projects include: Tarnanthi (2019) at the Art Gallery of South Australia; The National: New Australian Art (2019) at the Art Gallery of NSW; and the Sir John Sulman Prize (2019), also at the Art Gallery of NSW. Mulda’s work was included in Badu Gili: Wonder Women (2021), co-curated by the Opera House and the Art Gallery of NSW.

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