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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, for over 62 years, the Committee has worked tirelessly in engaging their peers and community to support the Opera House to become the world class performance venue and symbol of modern Australia it is today.   

Currently, the Committee includes 15 volunteers, with a combined 235 years of service. The members organise events throughout the year to gather supporters including an annual event in the Opera House’s Utzon Room 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 organisations largest private source 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. 

Most recently, the Ladies’ Committee presented the Opera House with a $26,000 contribution in December 2019, the culmination of the past year’s effort.

With this gift, the Committee enables two Opera House initiatives: Arts Assist and our 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 encompass our goal of providing 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.

The Ladies’ Committees enduring passion for the Opera House and these programs enables us to bring the delights, challenges, thrills and joy of the Opera House to everyone. In recognition of their lifelong commitment to 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, Media Liaison Officer (2013)
Barbara Oliver, Vice President (2013)
Marie Tysoe OAM, Vice President (1996)
Sandra Bartels, Treasurer, Ticketing Secretary (2011)
Lina Jaundrell, Minutes Secretary (2012)
Dr Carolyn Lowry OAM, Artistic Director(2013)
Agnes Matrai, Sponsorship Co-ordinator (2016)
Jan McLachlan, Fundraising Co-ordinator (2015)
Elizabeth White, Social Secretary (2011)
Janet Bagnall (2018)
Heather Easton (2020)
Jan Kneeshaw OAM (2006)
Pam Lord (1982)
Judi Martin (2021)
Marjorie May (1987)
Barbara Mckenzie-Gay (2020)
Elspeth Richards (2021)
Barbara Walters (2002)
Kids experiencing Creative Play at the Sydney Opera House
The Ladies Committee at their Government House reception in March 2019 featuring Mrs Linda Hurley, patron of the Committee and wife of the NSW Governor third from left in the front row.
A photo from the archives: Dame Joan Sutherland with members of the Sydney Opera House Ladies' Committee
A photo from the archives: Dame Joan Sutherland with members of the Sydney Opera House Ladies' Committee

Your gift to the Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is not-for-profit and belongs to us all.

Your generosity is essential to help treasure and renew this World Heritage-listed masterpiece for current and future generations.

Every gift, large and small, makes a difference.

Give now or learn more or 02 9250 7077.