Tuesday, 5 July 2022
It is Rod’s and my great pleasure to welcome you to Government House this evening, to celebrate 30 years of the Friends of the Australian Ballet SA.
This is the first time Rod and I have been in the presence of the Friends and we look forward to getting to know you all a little better this evening.
I begin with a confession: unlike many of you, I did not attend ballet classes in my youth, though I adored occasionally seeing performances of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.
In contrast, our daughters Claire, Sophie and Katherine all learned classical ballet as children and loved it, learning coordination, discipline and artistic expression, how to overcome performance nerves and glimpsing the sheer joy of the art form.
As an adult I’ve also had the privilege of attending some outstanding ballet performances.
While I was serving at the High Commission in London, Rod and I enjoyed performances of the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden. As Deputy and then Acting High Commissioner in London and as Australian Ambassador to China, I took great pride in the Australian Ballet’s overseas tours. I thank the Australian Ballet for its contribution over decades to Australia’s international standing in the arts.
Like all of Australia’s great artistic institutions, the Australian Ballet is at the centre of a wider community.
Bringing magic to the stage is not just about the company’s dancers, board and staff – including those with us this evening.
It’s also about the web of support that sits behind the Australian Ballet, including societies such as the South Australian Friends.
As Governor, I have been struck by the passion and commitment of many Friends groups in this state, including the Friends of the Australian Ballet.
During the past 30 years, the organisation has donated close to half a million dollars in support of ballet, which is an outstanding achievement.
Central to the Friends’ fundraising success has been its close association with the Australian Ballet itself, organising many opportunities for its members, and the general public, to meet company members in person, either through attending dress rehearsals, or listening to guest talks.
I commend the Friends for their other popular fundraising activities, such as the annual Bridge Day with hundreds of people participating in private homes.
In addition to providing financial support to the Australian Ballet, these activities also give the Friends a chance to socialise and share their love of ballet with others, which is a great joy for those involved.
I’m also pleased to see the Friends engaging with young dancers through various activities, including its Ambassador program.
Like many Friends organisations, here and around the country, attracting new members can be a challenge, and I have no doubt that creating connections with young people may well turn them into members at a later stage!
I thank all office holders and members of the Friends of the Australian Ballet, during the past 30 years, for coming together to share their love of ballet and support the extraordinary work of the Australian Ballet.
I am pleased to see there are a number of members here this evening who have been with the Friends for decades, and in particular Patron Mrs Beverley Brown, who co-founded the organisation.
And it’s wonderful that Kate, Phillipa and Alex Hurford, the daughters of the late Lorna Hurford who co-founded the organisation with Beverley, are with us tonight.
I wish the Friends every success for their fundraising efforts to support the Australian Ballet’s 60th anniversary next year, and I look forward to seeing many of you at the opening night of Counterpointe on Friday, which I know we shall all enjoy immensely!