WA Opera Executive Director appointed Member of the Order of Australia

Carolyn Chard. Picture: Frances Andrijich
Carolyn Chard. Picture: Frances Andrijich

THE reason behind West Australian Opera Executive Director Carolyn Chard’s decades-long dedication to the arts can be summed up with a quote by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi.

“There is a quote by Verdi that captures for me why we work and live in the arts: ‘I adore art… when I am alone with my notes my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear’,” she said.

Her segue into theatre came when she completed the arts management degree at WAAPA after working in banking, which she said gave her a grounding in business, and fashion which gave her a passion for the creative side of things.

“The arts have always been a deep field of interest and I think that’s because of the ability to be creative, the license to be a little outside the box and the opportunity to live an authentically artistically rich and fulfilling life,” she said.

Ms Chard’s jobs in the industry have included Deckchair Theatre, Barking Gecko Theatre and Awesome Arts Australia general manager in the 1990s, then Black Swan Theatre Multicultural Audience Development and Opera Australia general manager in the 2000s.

Her service to the arts was recognised this month when she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours List.

Ms Chard said everyone was an arts maker or arts consumer.

“We need to value the arts in our lives, the arts nurture the soul, enriching us and the communities we live in,” she said.

“There’s a lot of passion and a lot of time dedicated to the arts; the job is definitely not a 9am-5pm routine.

“We put work on the stage that is there for only a moment, we capture moments in the hope that audiences will have an experience that lives with them long after they have left the theatre.”

After three decades in the arts, Ms Chard said she could see change was happening “with fast moving disruption fuelled by new technology and new media”.

Ms Chard listed some of her career highlights.

“I was proud to present Richard Mills’s opera Batavia especially when ‘they said it couldn’t be done’ because it didn’t fit into the theatre and I am currently excited that we have commissioned Tim Finn OBE to write a new work for future production,” she said.

The Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours List:

Peter John Fitzpatrick

Dr Domenico (Dominic) Spagnolo

Norman Tattershall Wells

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