Ladies of the House
The Sydney Opera House Ladies’ Committee is the Opera House’s longest-standing fundraising group, holding its inaugural meeting in 1956, three years before initial work on Bennelong Point began. Since then, the Committee has worked tirelessly engaging their peers and community to support the Opera House.
Currently, the Committee includes 18 volunteers, with almost 250 combined years of service. The members organise events throughout the year to gather supporters including an annual event at the Opera House and the annual Christmas Lunch, while hosting internationally recognised talent including Professor The Hon Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, Soprano Valda Wilson and Bell Shakespeare Founding Artistic Director John Bell AO OBE.
Over the six decades since its inception, the Ladies’ Committee has contributed more than $1 million in donations to the Opera House, making it one of the organisation’s largest private sources of philanthropic support. The Committee believes in the power of the arts to enhance the life of the community and collectively engages individuals who share this belief, including Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley who once again became a Patron of the Committee in November 2019.
The Committee helps to enable two Opera House initiatives: Arts Assist and Access Programs. The Arts Assist program is our commitment to engaging all NSW students with the best national and international performing arts experiences, by providing the full cost of a Creative Learning performance ticket and a subsidy toward the travel cost of visiting. Schools are assessed according to socioeconomic disadvantage, schools with special needs and individual responses.
Our Access Programs provide barrier-free access, making the site, building and experiences offered accessible to all people. This includes audio-described and Auslan interpreted performances like Handel’s Messiah, physical access to all venues and unique Access projects like Club Weld.
In recognition of their lifelong commitment to and passion for the Opera House, we are delighted to acknowledge the Sydney Opera House Ladies’ Committee as one of our two Life Donors.
Current Sydney Opera House Ladies’ Committee:
Michelle Feehan, President (2021)
Sue Haywood, Vice President, Technology Manager (2013)
Barbara Oliver, Vice President (2013)
Sandra Bartels, Treasurer, Ticketing Secretary (2011)
Elspeth Richards, Secretary (2021)
Dr Carolyn Lowry OAM, Artistic Director (2013)
Janet McLachlan, Fundraising Coordinator (2015)
Heather Easton, Sponsorship Coordinator, Assistant Treasurer (2020)
Barbara McKenzie-Gay, Social Secretary, Media Liaison Officer (2020)
Janet Bagnell, Assistant Artistic Director (2018)
Norelle Feehan, Assistant Social Secretary (2022)
Lina Jaundrell, Assistant Secretary (2012)
Jan Kneeshaw OAM, Emerita President (2006)
Pamela Lord, Honorary Life Member (1982)
Judi Martin, Committee Member (2021)
Marjorie May, Honorary Life Member (2002)
Marie Tysoe OAM, Emerita President (1997)
Barbara Walters, Honorary Life Member (2002)