RØDE Founder and Chairman Peter Freedman AM has given the Sydney Festival its largest ever philanthropic donation, an unprecedented $5 millon. Freedman, who made headlines last year with the $9 million dollar purchase of the acoustic guitar Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain used in the band’s famous MTV Unplugged concert, has been the principal philanthropic partner of the Sydney Festival since 2013 and in 2016 received the Order of Australia for his service to business, manufacturing and export, and his philanthropic support for cultural events.

RØDE Founder and Chairman Peter Freedman AMRØDE Founder and Chairman Peter Freedman AM. Photo courtesy of Sydney Festival

“I am extremely proud to continue my support of Australian arts and culture with this donation to the Sydney Festival,” Freedman said. “Our artistic communities need assistance now more than ever. The creative arts are at the mercy of this pandemic, more so than any other industry, and the past 12 months have highlighted just how fragile the industry is.”

“I have long been an advocate for the Sydney Festival and strongly believe it is one of the world’s most important cultural events and most certainly Australia’s. The Festival has supported thousands of creative artists and behind-the-scenes workers in the industry. These are the people who have supported my career with RØDE, and this is my way of giving back to them,” he said. “The fact that Wesley Enoch and his wonderful team have managed to persevere through 2020 to put on such an incredible event in 2021 is remarkable and a testament to the resilience of creativity. I know that the next few years are going to be tough for the Festival and for the Australian arts as a whole and I am humbled to be able to make a contribution that will help ensure our cultural heart continues to beat.”

The Festival said the donation will play a pivotal role in its success in 2021 and beyond. “Mr Freedman’s generous philanthropic gift will do much to rescue the state of our arts industry after the immense disruption COVID has caused,” said Olivia Ansell, who takes over as Sydney Festival Director from Wesley Enoch. “New commissions, major presentations and the livelihoods of so many talented Australian and international artists will be made possible because of his generosity and unwavering belief in what we do. Ongoing support is vital to sustaining a pipeline of new work creation that can ensure the Sydney Festival can remain excellent in all that we do.”

Sydney Festival takes place at venues around Sydney until 26 January

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