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Birdseye view of the Sydney Opera House on Sydney Harbour

Heritage Action Plan

As temporary custodians of this State, National and World Heritage site, we are committed to ensuring the Sydney Opera House’s heritage significance – the building and its functions as a performing arts centre and gathering place for the community – is conserved and celebrated for current and future generations.

The Heritage Action Plan 2022-25 sets out the Opera House’s priorities and ambitions for heritage management over the next four years. It aligns with and supports the Utzon Design Principles, Conservation Management Plan and the Sydney Opera House Strategy 2018-23 to achieve our vision, mission and values.

Cultural heritage fosters peace and mutual understanding between peoples and nations, and is a driver and enabler of sustainability. Together with our other community actions plans, the Heritage Action Plan 2022-2025 underpins the Opera House’s commitment to the United Nations Global Goals, which provide a roadmap to a more sustainable and prosperous future for all. 

The Sydney Opera House “stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only of the 20th century but in the history of human kind”. 

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

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Conservation is the care and continuing development of the Opera House in such a way that its significance is retained or revealed and its future secured.

See Dr James Semple Kerr, The Conservation Plan 2013

Why is the Sydney Opera House significant?

The Opera House is one of the great buildings of the 20th century and Australia’s pre-eminent performing arts venue. The epitome of excellence and creativity, it elevates and enriches the human experience. Its heritage significance is founded in:

  • The Opera House’s function, form, materials, colour, spaces and setting;
  • Its unique combination of architecture, engineering, design and the performing arts;
  • The building’s central role in the life of the city and in Australian culture and identity; and
  • The cultural traditions of the Gadigal and the connection to Country.

Find out more about our inscription on the UNESCO World, National and State heritage registers

Sydney Opera House staff inspect tiles on iconic landmark sails as part of building maintenance, 5 April 2022. Photo by Mark Metcalfe / Stringer. © Getty Images.

Our Commitment to Heritage Conservation

In 2019, as part of embedding the Conservation Management Plan in the organisation and strengthening our custodianship, Opera House staff prepared the following policy statement:

What we do matters. Consistent with our organisational vision, mission and values, we will:

  • Conserve all aspects of the Opera House’s heritage significance for current and future generations though the implementation of our Conservation Management Plan.
  • Strengthen our knowledge, skills and understanding of the Opera House, embedding heritage conservation practice throughout the organisation.
  • Meet our State, National and World Heritage obligations.
  • Demonstrate excellence and leadership in heritage conservation, setting benchmarks and evaluating ourselves to ensure best practice.
  • Respect our heritage significance in everything we do, encouraging innovation and collaboration.
  • Tell compelling and meaningful stories about the Opera House’s heritage significance and conservation activities to local and global communities onsite and online.

Access the full policy statement here.

Conservation Council and Design Advisory Panel

The Conservation Council and the Design Advisory Panel, established in the 1990s and 2010 respectively, provide specialist conservation, heritage and design advice to the Trust and the organisation.

The Council and Panel advise on the principles that underlie decision-making on conservation and heritage related issues, the implementation of the Conservation Management Plan, Utzon Design Principles, Heritage Action Plan and other key documents. They advise the organisation on how to conserve and enhance the heritage values of the site.

Find out more about the Conservation Council and Design Advisory Panel here.

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