From artists and artistic directors to board members and music educators, the cultural sector has been strongly represented in this year’s Australia Day honours.

by Richard Watts

Among the array of arts luminaries to receive Australia Day honours this year, some took the opportunity to acknowledge the problematic date on which the awards are bestowed.

Artistic Director and co-CEO of Polyglot Theatre, Sue Giles, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), in recognition of her significant contribution to the performing arts and to theatre for children. She took advantage of the opportunity to reflect on contemporary conversations about the divisive nature of 26 January.

‘I am honoured to be recognised among so many extraordinary colleagues in the performing arts, specifically in the sector of theatre for children and young people … The complexities and sensitivity of engagement with children, above and beyond our visible public output, makes our sector vital in the landscape and we will all keep working for the rights of the child to a valued place in our society,’ said Giles, who has led Polyglot since 2000 and seen the company’s works performed in 15 countries on five continents in five different languages.

‘It is also an honour to be recognised among hundreds of others who work in service to their communities and for the collective strength of our country and all its potential. However, this honour is overshadowed for me by the fact that the First Nations people of Australia are still denied their rightful place at the centre of the celebration of our future and identity. Let’s change the date so we can all celebrate,’ she added.
Comedian Magda Szubanski, who played a prominent role in last year’s bruising marriage equality debate, was also honoured, being made an Officer of the Order. She too reflected on the date the awards are announced.
‘It’s a source of pain for people. It’s like saying to the Irish that when the English landed, that’s when [Ireland] became a nation. That’s what it feels like. I don’t think it’s a good symbol of nationhood and it’s not thoughtful,’ Szubanski told Fairfax.

‘I am sure we can all come together and find a better day. There is an amazing possibility for us all to be moved forward, to have amazing conversations with our First Nations people.’

PROMINENT WOMEN AWARDED

A number of other prominent women across the sector were also awarded, including entertainer Kylie Minogue, entertainer turned cancer advocate Olivia Newton-John, and Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung woman Dr Lou Bennett, one of the founding members of the internationally acclaimed music trio, Tiddas.

Lyn Williams, Artistic Director and Founder of Gondwana Choirs, was recognised in this year’s Australia Day honours with an upgrade from her Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) to become a Member of the Order (AM), in recognition of her services to the arts and work with young people – in particular the founding and development of the Cairns-based Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir.

Executive Director of Gondwana Choirs, Bernie Heard said, ‘Lyn’s exceptional skill in working with young people is recognised internationally for its high artistic quality and ground-breaking innovation. Her global reputation has paved the way for this year’s inaugural Gondwana World Choral Festival, a week-long festival in July in Sydney, attracting eight of the world’s best choirs for children and young people.
‘Gondwana Choirs joins with the rest of Australia’s arts communities in congratulating Lyn on her successes so far and can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!’

One of Australia’s most successful film producers and President of the Natalie Miller Foundation, Sue Maslin, was made an officer (AO) of the order of Australia (General Division) for her outstanding contribution to the Australian screen industry.

Serving 35 years in the Australian screen industry, Maslin’s many feature credits include Road To Nhill, Japanese Story, The Dressmaker and the documentary Jill Bilcock – The Art of Editing.

‘I am thrilled and humbled to be honoured in this way,’ Maslin said in a statement. ‘My contribution has been in partnership with so many brilliant and creative people and it means a lot if our work has made a positive difference to the Australian screen industry and in particular, women.’

The newly appointed Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Karen Quinlan, was also recognised in the Australia Day Honours list for her significant service to the visual arts and to higher education.

Prior to her appointment as Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Quinlan had been Director of the Bendigo Art Gallery for 18 years, serving as its Curator for three years before that. Under her leadership, the Bendigo Art Gallery came to be recognised internationally for the quality of its exhibitions, many undertaken with overseas partners.

Helen Nugent AO, Chairman of the National Portrait Gallery said, ‘I congratulate Karen, who has today been recognised with an Order of Australia award in the Australia Day Honours. We are all delighted for Karen.’
Having commenced in her new role at the National Portrait Gallery on 10 December 2018, Quinlan said it was a great honour to receive an Order of Australia.

‘Having had the privilege of leading such a wonderful institution – the Bendigo Art Gallery – for so many years, and now embarking upon an exciting new adventure at the National Portrait Gallery, I feel incredibly honoured to be recognised for what I do and for what I love,’ she said in a statement.

ALSO RECOGNISED

Chairman of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), Michael Ullmer, was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). The award recognises his outstanding service to the community through leadership and philanthropic initiatives in Australia’s banking and finance, arts and education sectors.

‘We are absolutely thrilled that Michael’s significant contribution to the Australian community is being recognised in this public and meaningful way,’ said Sophie Galaise, MSO Managing Director.
Beyond his Board responsibilities, Ullmer has built a close working relationship with the musicians and staff of the MSO by accompanying the Orchestra on tour. He also actively participates in initiatives that bring MSO musicians, staff and Board together to understand issues around governance, management, risk and succession planning.

Through his Family Foundation, he has established a multi-year pledge to deliver the MSO’s education programs to school children across Victoria. He also supports the position of Concertmaster Sophie Rowell.
‘Our Chairman is a passionate advocate for the arts and education. The MSO has benefited enormously from his approach to building private sector support for the arts, and his belief in the power of music in building and engaging communities,’ Galaise said.

Cyrus Meher-Homji, General Manager, Classics and Jazz, Universal Music Australia, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the performing arts, particularly through music.
Meher-Homji trained as a concert pianist in Perth, Sydney and London, and holds a Master’s degree in musicology. He has written widely about music and musicians, and has worked closely with a range of artists including Cecilia Bartoli, André Rieu, Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Patrizio Buanne, Zubin Mehta, Judith Durham, Renée Fleming, Aled Jones and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

‘I am deeply honoured to have been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia,’ Meher-Homji said.

‘Professionally, there has never been a more exciting time to be working with classical music and jazz, and with the opportunities for the parallel universes of curation and rediscovery; what was once termed as “niche” finally gets the chance to escape those self-imposed chains and be recognised for what it really is: music for all to enjoy.’

The full list of cultural sector recipients of Australia Day honours are listed below.

COMPANION (AC) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

Mr Carrillo Baillieu GANTNER AO South Yarra: For eminent service to the community through professional involvement in, and philanthropic support for, the performing and visual arts, and to Australia-Asia cultural exchange.
Ms Olivia NEWTON-JOHN AO OBE NSW: For eminent service to community health, particularly for people living with cancer, through support for medical research, and as a songwriter and performer.
Ms Jennifer June ROWE Leura NSW: For eminent service to literature as an author, particularly in the children’s fiction and adult mystery genres.

OFFICER (AO) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

Ms Elena KATS-CHERNIN Coogee NSW: For distinguished service to the performing arts, particularly to music, as an orchestral, operatic and chamber music composer.
Ms Banduk Mamburra MARIKA Yirrkala NT: For distinguished service to the visual arts, particularly to Indigenous printmaking and bark painting, and through cultural advisory roles.
Ms Susan Mary MASLIN VIC: For distinguished service to the Australian film industry as a producer, and through roles with professional bodies.
Ms Kylie Ann MINOGUE Chelsea London: For distinguished service to the performing arts as a national and international recording artist and entertainer.
Ms Magdalene Mary SZUBANSKI Surry Hills NSW: For distinguished service to the performing arts as an actor, comedian and writer, and as a campaigner for marriage equality.
Mr Michael James ULLMER Armadale VIC: For distinguished service to the performing and visual arts through a range of roles, and to the finance and banking industry.

MEMBER (AM) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

Dr Cindy Louise BENNETT VIC: For significant service to the performing arts, particularly to music, and to the Indigenous community.
Ms Mary Josephine CAPPS NSW: For significant service to performing arts administration, particularly to music, and to business.
Dr Jeanell CARRIGAN Strathfield South NSW: For significant service to music education, particularly piano, and to the performing arts.
Mr Timothy John COLDWELL Thornbury VIC: For significant service to the circus arts as a performer, designer, director and administrator.
Mr Jeffrey Neil DAVIES Heidelberg Heights VIC: For significant service to the visual arts as an ornithological artist and illustrator.
Mr John Bernard DERUM Waterloo NSW: For significant service to the performing arts as an actor, director and administrator, and to the community.
Dr Ian Douglas GALLOWAY Newstead QLD: For significant service to the museums sector, to historical preservation, and to the environment.
Ms Susan Jessica GILES Coburg VIC: For significant service to the performing arts as an artistic director, and to theatre for children.
Professor John Anthony GRIFFITHS Brunswick East VIC: For significant service to music education as an academic and musicologist, and to professional societies.
Mr Raymond Richard HARDING Springwood NSW: For significant service to the broadcast media, particularly as a script writer and producer for television.
Ms Alison Jean LESTER Nar Nar Goon North VIC: For significant service to literature as a children’s author and illustrator, and to Indigenous literacy.
Mr Ian McLEAN Fitzroy VIC: For significant service to music, particularly as a promoter and advocate for live performance.
Ms Helen MARCOU Fitzroy VIC: For significant service to music, particularly as a promoter and advocate for live performance.
Ms Sophie Veronique MASSON Invergowrie NSW: For significant service to literature as an author and publisher, and through roles with industry organisations.
Professor Sarah Brooke MILLER NSW: For significant service to the performing arts through research, education and advisory roles.
Mrs Catriona Jane MORDANT Sydney NSW: For significant service to the arts through a range of administrative and advisory roles.
Mr Rodrick John PARKER Batehaven NSW: For significant service to community music through pipe and drum bands.
Mr Kevin William PERKINS Franklin TAS: For significant service to the visual arts as a timber craftsman, designer and sculptor
Mr Garth Ivan PORTER Watsons Bay NSW: For significant service to music as a performer, song-writer and producer.
Emeritus Professor Roger Stuart PULVERS Roseville NSW: For significant service to Japanese literature and culture as a writer, translator and educator.
Professor Karen Louise QUINLAN Quarry Hill VIC: For significant service to the visual arts as an administrator and gallery curator, and to higher education.
Mr Geoffrey David TODD Ararat VIC: For significant service to the visual arts as an artist and sculptor.
Mr Juan Ignacio TRAPAGA (Ignatius Jones) Surry Hills NSW: For significant service to entertainment as a writer, director, author and performer.
Ms Lyn Adrienne WILLIAMS OAM Dulwich Hill NSW: For significant service to the Indigenous community, and to youth, through choral music initiatives.
Ms Lynette Frances WILLIAMS United Kingdom: For significant service to the performing arts as an administrator and artistic director.

HONORARY MEMBER (AM) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

Dr Goetz RICHTER Strathfield South NSW: For significant service to music as a concert violinist, artistic director, mentor and educator.

MEDAL (OAM) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

Mr Toby Charles ALLEN NSW: For service to the performing arts as an entertainer.
Mr Norman Lewis BAILEY Balwyn VIC: For service to the performing arts.
Mrs Claudia BARKER Caldermeade VIC: For service to the community through a range of musical organisations.
Mr Zeljko BEDIC Paddington NSW: For service to the community and to the performing arts, particularly through music.
Ms Susan Kathleen BERGMAN Narre Warren VIC: For service to the performing arts, particularly through community theatre.
Mr Barry John BULL Buddina QLD: For service to the performing arts, particularly through music.
Mr Phillip Andrew BURTON NSW: For service to performing arts as an entertainer.
Mr Owen Charles CHAMBERS Summer Hill NSW: For service to the performing arts, particularly as a music producer.
Miss Coral Shirley DEAGUE Wonga Park VIC: For service to dance as a choreographer and teacher.
Ms Lauraine Beth DIGGINS VIC: For service to the museums and galleries sector.
Mr Paul Terence DUHIG Subiaco WA: For service to performing arts, particularly through music.
Mr Jeffrey Robert ELWORTHY Woodridge QLD: For service to sport, particularly dancing.
The late Ms Cornelia FRANCES Neutral Bay NSW: For service to the performing arts as an entertainer.
Mrs Dorothy Evelyn HAMILTON Glen Iris VIC: For service to music, and to people who are blind or have low vision.
Mr Bernard Jan HOESMAN Ashgrove QLD: For service to music through brass and concert bands.
Dr Donald William HOSSACK OBE PSM Toorak VIC: For service to medicine, and to the arts.
Dr Bronwyn Eleanor HUGHES Mount Eliza VIC: For service to the visual arts.
Mr Francis Adrian JACKSON Elsternwick VIC: For service to the performing arts, particularly through music.
Mr Barry KRATZKE Camp Hill QLD: For service to the performing arts
Mr Reginald Clarence LEMME Croydon Park NSW: For service to the community through pipe bands.
Mr Cyrus MEHER-HOMJI Sydney NSW: For service to the performing arts, particularly through music.
Mr Francis John MITCHELL Lithgow NSW: For service to jazz music
Mrs Patricia Mary MOY Willoughby NSW: For service to the visual arts.
Mr Jon Edward NICHOLLS Cammeray NSW: For service to the performing arts.
Mrs Barbara Merle O’LEARY Brighton VIC: For service to choral music.
Ms Eileen O’SHEA Melbourne VIC: For service to the media and entertainment sectors.
Mr Terrance Kippax PLOWRIGHT Wentworth Falls NSW: For service to the visual arts, particularly as a sculptor
Mr Donald James SECOMB Taree NSW: For service to the arts, particularly through music.
Mr Ronald Edward SHEPHERD Camden NSW: For service to the community through bell ringing.
Mrs Rose Mary SHORNEY Kambah ACT: For service to the performing arts through musical direction.
Mr Christopher John SIMON Alice Springs NT: For service to the visual arts through support for and promotion of Aboriginal art.
Mr Noel Bernard STALLARD Chermside QLD: For service to literature.
Ms Karina SYSKO City Beach WA: For service to musical education.
Mr Andrew James TIERNEY United States of America: For service to the performing arts as an entertainer.
Mr Michael John TIERNEY United States of America: For service to the performing arts as an entertainer.
Mr Mandar Madhusudan VAIDYA Boronia VIC: For service to the performing arts.
Mrs Diana WALDRON City Beach WA: For service to dance.
Mr Ian Arthur WATTS Fitzroy VIC: For service to the museums and galleries sector.
Mr Robert James WEATHERBURN United Kingdom: For service to the performing arts, particularly through music.
Mr Graeme Henry WILLIAMS East Melbourne VIC: For service to the visual arts.
Ms Sosina Tewabe WOGAYEHU Ethiopia: For service to the performing arts as an entertainer.
Ms Joan Lesley WRIGHT Hobart TAS: For service to music as an educator.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Watts is ArtsHub’s Performing Arts Editor and Team Leader, Editorial; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R.
The founder of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Richard currently serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre’s Committee of Management and on the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel.
He is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and in 2017 was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend.
Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardthewatts