Sydney Opera House to open new venue: Centre for Creativity

The Sydney Opera House honours our First Nations by fostering a shared sense of belonging for all Australians, and we acknowledge the Gadigal people, traditional custodians of Tubowgule, the land on which the Opera House stands.

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Sydney – Tuesday 23 November, 2021. The Sydney Opera House will open its new Centre for Creativity on January 4, 2022 – a purpose-built home for hands-on creative experiences inside the world-renowned building.

The Centre will significantly increase the breadth of year-round participatory performances, workshops and installations, in line with the Opera House’s commitment to engage new audiences on site, in schools, and in homes across Australia and the world. 


It’s one of the final projects in the Opera House’s Decade of Renewal, funded by the NSW Government, and is the first new dedicated programming venue to open in more than 20 years.


“The Centre for Creativity will be a place for everyone to set their creativity free. We will offer programming and experiences based in design, engineering, dance, singing, storytelling and drawing to appeal to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds – and, very importantly, they will reach people wherever they are,” Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said.


“The new state-of-the-art Centre for Creativity will help ensure the Opera House remains relevant and contemporary for the people of NSW and the world, expanding the creative learning opportunities available to young people and lifelong learners, on site and online. The Centre will enable the community to reap the benefits of creativity – collaboration, resilience and imaginative thinking – which are essential to navigate these unprecedented times and plan for our future,” NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said.


The Centre for Creativity’s inaugural program (January-March 2022) is curated by the Sydney Opera House’s Head of Children, Families and Creative Learning, Tamara Harrison and features a mix of free and paid activities that will go on sale to the public at 9am on Friday 26 November. It will open with House Warming (4-16 January), a free, tactile and participatory installation from award-winning Sydney artist Rosie Deacon, filling the space with a forest-like environment made of colourful, recycled materials. Adults, children and families will be able to explore, interact and add to the installation, creating a living site-specific work.


“The year-round program in the Centre takes inspiration from the three major life forces that course through the Opera House and all it does – the powerful First Nations history of Tubowgule, the magic and science of the building, and the extraordinary art and artists from our stages and community,”  Opera House Director of Programming Fiona Winning said.


For adults and young people aged 15+:

  • Afro House – a beginners workshop from Western Sydney-based hip-hop crew CanYouAfro?, merging street and cultural African dance moves;
  • The Ngumpie Weavers’ Wall Hangings workshop with Tegan Murdock, a proud member of the Barkindtji, Maraura, Yorta Yorta and Duduroa tribes, where participants design a wall-hanging and learn the fundamentals of Aboriginal weaving in an afternoon of story and connection to culture;
  • Meditation: Between Words and Music with Dr Nadine Cameron and musician SnowBorne (David Rosa) – a guided meditation to encourage creativity combining music, personal memories and spoken word; and
  • First Nations Design Day – a day-long workshop created by Opera House Creative Learning consultant, Kamilaroi educator and artist Annie-renae Winters, with collaborators. It includes making, drawing, learning through yarning circles, and natural dyeing with foraged materials.

For adults 18+:

  • Architecture Club – a series of Saturday afternoon workshops for those passionate about design, inspired by the unique genius of Opera House architect Jørn Utzon;
  • Big Heart Sing – a free public choir led by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs in the inaugural season, for singers of all abilities to share in the joy of community singing; and
  • Dance Mardi Gras: Ballroom Vogue – a dance and movement class ahead of Mardi Gras with Sydney’s Street University to learn the techniques of vogueing with a live DJ set.

For all ages:

  • A free monthly Draw the House: The Sketchbook Tour that explores the Opera House and its surrounds through the eyes of an artist. Led by contemporary visual artists, each tour will explore different approaches to drawing, from traditional and observational, to experimental and abstract.

For children and families: 

  • During the school holidays Hidden House Puppets workshop, run by contemporary Tasmanian theatre company Terrapin, will invite 8-12 year-olds to turn household items into puppets and create a new story together;
  • Rain – a mesmerising and immersive sensory experience for babies (babes in arms and crawlers) and their carers, which introduces the next generation of audience members to the generosity of rain through sound, touch and performance; and
  • Australian-born artist of Laotian heritage Anney Bounpraseuth will lead a series of free creative experiences on Sunday mornings for 7-11 year-olds and their families, including mask making Opera House Unmasked, wig making Big Opera Wigs and Firework Fascinators.

For students and teachers:

  • The Opera House’s 2022 Creative Learning program will be revealed to the education sector this Thursday 25 November. The Centre for Creativity allows students and teachers to experience its biggest program yet – fully aligned to the curriculum;
  • New STEAM and First Nations workshops in addition to a range of performances, experiences and tours for primary and secondary schools will be hosted in the Centre for Creativity both on site and online; and
  • The Centre will be home to a new built environment program for secondary students, tertiary students, and professionals, Sydney Opera House BUILD, enabled in partnership with the Ove Arup Foundation.

The Centre for Creativity will also be a home for creative development, where artists can develop and showcase new work in free audience showings. The two works undertaking creative development in the inaugural season are funded through the Opera House’s philanthropic initiative, New Work Now:

  • Bulnuruwanha – Taking Flight (for 5+ year-olds and their families) – a contemporary Indigenous work created by Wiradjuri dancer Emily Flannery (recently seen in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s SandSong) and inspired by the birds and animals of the NSW Central Coast; and 
  • What The Ocean Said(for 3-8 year olds and their families) – a multi-sensory story time experience by James Brown and Company. The world-premiere performance season of What the Ocean Said will be presented in March.

The Centre was designed by renowned architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer and built by Taylor Construction. It comprises a larger room which can host groups of 50-60 for workshops and 80-100 people for seated experiences when at full capacity, and a second room designed for small group work. It is located in the north-west corner of the ground floor of the Opera House and will be accessible through the Western Foyers. 

Thank you to the NSW Government for enabling the Opera House’s Decade of Renewal; and our Centre for Creativity major donors: the Yarranabbe Foundation; Ove Arup Foundation; Turnbull Foundation; Boyarsky family; and The Greatorex Fund.

The Centre for Creativity supports the Opera House’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – #4 Quality Education and #10 Reduced Inequalities.

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