Arts Centre Melbourne holds memorial service for Sue Nattrass

Kaylah Joelle Baker

In honour of the extraordinary life and achievements of former general manager of Arts Centre Melbourne Sue Nattrass AO, a memorial service is being held on April 27.

The service will take place in the Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, at 2pm and will be open to the public as an opportunity for all to reflect on the remarkable achievements of the Horsham-born industry leader.

“Sue Nattrass AO, was a pioneering leader in the sector, being one of the first women in our industry to take on the most senior of roles, firstly in our organisation as general manager and as the first female artistic director of the Melbourne International Arts Festival,” Arts Centre Melbourne executive director performing arts Melanie Smith said.


Sue was tenacious, determined, kind and generous and long after her time with us came to an end, she has remained a great advocate, supporter, and friend.


Ms Nattrass first began her professional career in the art sector when entrepreneur Clifford Hocking asked her to operate the lighting board for Barry Humphries’ first one-man show.

Fulfilling this role made her the first ever woman in this role, and she continued her career with the same determination.

Upon joining JC Williamson Theatres Limited in 1966, Ms Nattrass became the first woman in Australia to work as production manager, lighting designer, executive producer and general manager of a commercial theatre company.

This commitment to the sector continued at the Victorian Arts Centre Trust in 1983, where she became the first woman ever employed in the positions of deputy general manager in 1988 and general manager from 1989 to 1996.

To remember the impact Ms Nattrass had on the performing arts sector, and the way she paved the way for women, Arts Centre Melbourne has announced a traineeship in her honour.

“Sue started her career with us as an accomplished technician and stage manager and later in her career flourished and impressed in senior leadership roles in the formative years of Arts Centre Melbourne, where she was much loved, respected and admired,” Ms Smith said.

“With this in mind I am so happy to announce the newly created Arts Centre Melbourne’s Sue Nattrass Technical Production Traineeship.”

Backed by philanthropic support, the traineeship will support women to complete a one-year program which will lead to an accreditation in Certificate III Live Production and Technical Services.

Ms Nattrass’ commitment to supporting the arts community has also been recognised through the Sue Nattrass Arts Management Fund at Deakin, and will be used to continue to support students studying Arts and Cultural Management.

To attend the memorial and reflect on the legacy left by Ms Nattrass, visit:

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