Actor/director Robyn Nevin, Executive Director of The Australian Ballet and Chair of Orchestra Victoria Libby Christie, choreographer Lucy Guerin, theatre producer Christine Dunstan, artist Vincent Namatjira, and arts philanthropists Naomi Milgrom, Simon Mordant, Greta Moran and Gretel Packer are among the arts figures to be recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Robyn Nevin was appointed an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to the performing arts as an acclaimed actor and artistic director, and as a mentor and role model”. Nevin, who received an Order of Australia (AM) in 1981, graduated from NIDA in 1960 and has worked as an actor ever since. She has performed predominantly in theatre, playing leading roles for every major Australian theatre company in plays such as Patrick White’s A Cheery Soul, Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer among countless others, as well as Mrs Higgins in the musical My Fair Lady for Opera Australia. She has also appeared in television shows such as Upper Middle Bogan and Top of the Lake, and in films including Careful, He Might Hear You and The Castle.
Robyn Nevin in a promotional shot for Suddenly Last Summer for Sydney Theatre Company. Photograph © Lisa Tomasetti
Nevin has also had a busy, influential career as a director and has held various major positions including Artistic Director and CEO of Sydney Theatre Company (1999 – 2007) where she established the award-winning ensemble, The Actor’s Company, Artistic Director and CEO of the Queensland Theatre Company (1996 – 1999), and Associate Director of Melbourne Theatre Company (1994 – 1996).
Lucy Guerin was also named an Officer (AO) in the General Division for “distinguished service to contemporary dance as a choreographer, and as a mentor and advocate for emerging artists and new works”. Guerin is a highly regarded choreographer, who founded Melbourne-based contemporary dance company Lucy Guerin Inc in 2002 to create and tour new dance works.
Libby Christie was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division for “significant service to performing arts administration, and to women in business”. Christie was appointed as Executive Director of The Australian Ballet in July 2013. Her previous positions include CEO of the Australia Council for the Arts (2012 – 2013), Executive Director of Arts Funding at the Australia Council (2009 – 2012), and Managing Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2003 – 2009).
Naomi Milgrom received the highest honour, Companion (AC) in the General Division for “eminent service to the community through philanthropic leadership and support for the promotion of the arts, architecture, design excellence and cultural exchange, and to business”. Milgrom, who is head of fashion retailer ARJ Group Holdings, founded the Naomi Milgrom Foundation in 2014 to enrich Australian cultural life by engaging new audiences with exceptional art, design and architecture. The Foundation champions multidisciplinary projects that explore design’s close interconnections with contemporary culture, and commissioned MPavilion in Melbourne.
Simon Mordant. Photograph © Angus Mordant, courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney
Philanthropists Greta Moran and Simon Mordant were both awarded an AO for distinguished service to the visual arts. Moran established the Moran Arts Foundation, which funds Australia’s richest portrait and photographic prizes. Mordant was one of those who campaigned to establish the Museum of Contemporary Art, and then served on the Board where he was appointed Chair in 2010, a position he will hold until July this year. In 2012, Mordant and his wife Catriona donated $15 million to the MCA to help fund the building of a new wing. The couple also supported the Sydney International Art Series exhibitions in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and are passionate collectors of contemporary art.
Oscar-nominated screenwriter and former Australian Writers’ Guild President Jan Sardi was awarded an AO is recognition of his distinguished service to the film and television industries as a screenwriter and director, and to professional guilds. Sardi’s credits include The Notebook, Mao’s Last Dancer and Love’s Brother. In 1997 his screenplay Shine about pianist David Helfgott earned him an Academy Award nomination.
Gretel Packer was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division for “significant service to the community, to the visual and performing arts, and to conservation”. She is on the Sydney Theatre Company Board and is Chair of the Sydney Theatre Company Foundation. She was also production patron of STC’s productions of The Harp in the South and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Other arts figures to be awarded an AM include painter Yvonne Audette, former Director of the Australian Museum Frank Howarth, opera and concert conductor and university lecturer David Kram, music producer Mark Opitz, painter Ross Shardlow, Director of the Australian Tapestry Workshop Antonia Syme, who has overseen collaborations with musicians, designers and architects, luthier Harry (Charalambos Andrea) Vatiliotis, and dance administrator Bronwyn Watkins.
Independent theatre producer Christine Dunstan was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the performing arts as a producer and mentor. Dunstan, who received the Sydney Theatre Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2016, has toured productions across the country and internationally in a career spanning over 50 years.
Among the other 30 or more people to receive an OAM for their work in the arts are Indigenous artists Nyurpaya Kaika Burton, Frances Harrison, Peter Mungkuri, Vincent Namatjira, Tjunkaya Tapaya and Mumu Mike Williams, actor and singer Tottie Goldsmith, photographic artist Julie Millowick, and former festival director Marcus Westbury, who is the inaugural CEO of Contemporary Arts Precincts Ltd, currently leading the development of Melbourne’s Collingwood Arts Precinct.