• arts & culture
  • education

28 February 2017

Creative Victoria sadly acknowledges the passing of Betty Amsden OAM, one of Victoria's most prominent arts advocates and philanthropists.

Betty Amsden OAM

Betty giving the 'Dominoes' project  a nudge outside Arts Centre Melbourne in 2016. Source: Arts Centre Melbourne 

Betty was a long-term and passionate supporter of Victoria's arts sector, generously contributing to many of our leading arts organisations, including Arts Centre Melbourne, Australian Ballet School, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne Theatre Company, Polyglot Children's Theatre and Victorian Opera.

Charitable from a young age, Betty often attributed this quality to the advice her parents had shared with her: "If you have two pennies, give one away."

Betty worked hard to build her own business ventures from the ground up – primarily aged-care facilities, commercial properties and real estate – and applied her business acumen and forward-thinking to the arts organisations and programs she supported. 

Leading by example and through her enthusiastic advocacy efforts, Betty managed to shift attitudes among patronage circles about the viability of supporting the arts.

Committed to the sustainability of the sector, Betty looked to encourage leadership and increase fundraising capacity within the organisations she supported.  

Arts education, community and youth programs were her main focus. Betty was passionate about empowering future generations and giving young people the opportunity to experience something out of the ordinary, that they might not otherwise.

Betty could often be spotted in and around Arts Centre Melbourne and the breadth of her support for the organisation was extraordinary, including:

  • Establishing the $5 million Betty Amsden Arts Education Endowment for Children in 2009, one of the largest gifts ever to the performing arts in Australia
  • Providing an additional $1 million in 2013 to develop a four-year program of major public events to further promote the importance of philanthropy and social inclusion. These large scale events,  'Play Me, I'm Yours', 'Home' and 'Dominoes' brought a sense of joy and wonder to thousands of people,  and 2017's upcoming 'Fun Run' is set to do the same
  • Supporting 'Lord of the Flies' which offers performance opportunities to boys and young men who may otherwise not have the opportunity
  • Enablinging schools and community groups to experience world class performing arts at Arts Centre Melbourne as Patron of the First Call Fund
  • Funding the Betty Amsden Scholarship for Leadership in Arts Management, an annual professional development program for lower and middle management at Arts Centre Melbourne.

As a result of Betty's generosity Victoria's young people, students, creative professionals and community members have been afforded opportunities to connect with the arts.

Victoria is grateful to have had such a kind, generous and energetic individual in our community. Betty Amsden will be deeply missed and her outstanding legacy long felt.