Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust
The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (AETT) was set up in September 1954 under the guidance of H. C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs, Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Sir Charles Moses General Manager, Australian Broadcasting Commission and John Douglas Pringle, Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. It aimed to establish drama, opera and ballet companies nationally.
Founding and History
Named to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Australia, the Trust raised £100,000 by a public appeal. The trust had an agreement with the Commonwealth government to match public donations 'in the ratio of 1:3 and to provide ongoing funding'.
Since 1999 the Trust has offered overseas music scholarships; 80 scholars have been supported, with grants totaling over A$1 million. The Trust is also the owner/proprietor of the Independent Theatre, North Sydney.
The Trust played a key role in establishing high culture in Australia through its involvement in setting up:
- the Elizabethan Theatre Trust Opera Company (now Opera Australia) in 1956
- the Elizabethan Opera Ballet Company, a short lived ballet company set up in 1957, and with J. C. Williamson Ltd the Australian Ballet Foundation in 1961 and the Australian Ballet School under the direction of Margaret Scott
- the Elizabethan Trust Orchestra in 1967, which in 1969 split into two orchestras, one each resident in Melbourne and Sydney.
- the Armstrong-Martin Scholarship in 1977, to further the musical education of professional opera singers. Since 1986 the Armstrong-Martin Scholarship has been awarded in the Opera Awards, administered by Music & Opera Singers Trust Limited (MOST®).
It has also supported:
- National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA)
- Marionette Theatre of Australia
- Australian Theatre of the Deaf
- Old Tote Theatre Company
- Melbourne Theatre Company
- South Australian Theatre Company.
Following the establishment of the Australian Council for the Arts in 1968, it ceased to be a funding body for opera and ballet in 1970.
During the 1980s the Trust scaled back its operations and in the 1990s had a Sydney focus and operated a ticketing agency and organised theatre parties.
Chairs of the Board
- Tim Rowse, 'Playing the blame game', The Australian, 16 May 2007.
- MS 5908 Records of Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust at the National Library of Australia
- Annual Report 1957, The Australia Elizabethan Theatre Trust
- Roger Wettenhall, 'Kaleidoscope, or 'Now We See Them, Now We Don't!', Canberra Bulletin of Public Administration, No. 110, 2003, p. 32.
- Chairman’s Address for 2005, The Australia Elizabethan Theatre Trust
- Valerie Lawson, 'In the steps of the Empire', Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Feb 2002.
- Frank Strahan, "Gibson, Aubrey Hickes Lawson (1901-1973)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 14, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
- Corrie Perkin, 'Philanthropist made his play', The Australian, 4 May 2006.
- The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust: the first year, Sydney: The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, 1956
- Stephen Alomes, The search for a National Theatre, Voices, Spring 1993, pp. 21-37.