The Betty Amsden Foundation has given $1 million to Melbourne Recital Centre, the largest bequest that the venue has received in its history. In memory of the late arts philanthropist Betty Amsden and her passion for music education, the significant sum will help fund a dedicated families and children’s program. It is also hoped that the bequest will encourage the creation of new musical works geared toward young people.

Betty Amsden. Photo: supplied

“Betty was a great friend and mentor to the Centre and she holds a special place in our hearts,” said Kathryn Fagg, Melbourne Recital Centre’s Chair. “It is an honour to be entrusted with the resources Betty intended Melbourne Recital Centre to have to develop music programs that continue her commitment to participation in the arts and strengthen the Centre’s connection with our community and particularly with young people.”

The Betty Amsden Kids & Family Program will include a family-friendly four-day annual festival in January; salon concerts for children during school holidays; regular family performances with Opera Australia; regular touring family programs such as Mister Maker and The Wiggles; weekly music sessions for local communities, with an emphasis on children aged 0 to 4. The Centre will also introduce relaxed performances for families.

Betty Amsden had a long association with the Centre, having been a seed funder for many of its initiatives including the Music Play Children’s Festival, Music Circle Patrons Program and the Musical Explorations illustrated lecture series.