Australian Casino Mogul James Packer Pledges $56 Million to Sydney Arts Groups

Australian Casino Mogul James Packer Pledges $56 Million to Sydney Arts Groups

James Packer, executive chair of one of Australia's largest gaming and entertainment groups, has pledged AUS$60 million ($56 million) over ten years to arts organizations in Sydney, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The pledge includes awards of AUS$15 million ($13.9 million) to the Sydney Theatre Company, AUS $10 million ($9.3 million) to the Art Gallery of NSW, and a total of AUS $5 million ($4.65 million) to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Opera House and other groups. The remaining AUS$30 million ($27.9 million) will be earmarked for organizations in western Sydney — a focus that Liz Ann Macgregor, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, applauded. "There is a large part of Sydney where artists and local arts organizations are producing fantastic work that's deserving of more exposure," Macgregor told the Morning Herald.

To be disbursed starting in 2014-15, half the funds will be awarded by the Crown Resorts Foundation, which was established in September as part of the gaming and entertainment company's corporate social responsibility program, while the other half will come from the Packer family. The announcement of the pledge coincided with news that Packer and the state government of New South Wales had reached an agreement to allow Crown Resorts to develop and operate a VIP-only casino and hotel complex in Sydney starting in 2019.

"I am most excited about providing funding for western Sydney arts projects," Packer said in a statement. "For too long the vast majority of Sydney's population has missed out on this sort of endeavor, and many of these organizations have had to exist on the tightest budgets. I know local western Sydney organizations will make the funds go a long way and touch many people's lives for the better."

"Crown Resorts Limited Announces Proposed $60 Million Sydney Arts Fund." Crown Resorts Press Release 11/12/2013. John Saxby. "James Packer Gives $60 Million to Arts Organisations." Sydney Morning Herald 11/13/2013.