The Australia Council congratulates Geoffrey Rush on being named Australian of the Year
03 February 2012The Australia Council congratulates Geoffrey Rush on being named Australian of the Year.
“This is a great endorsement of the role Australian artists play in our society,” says Kathy Keele, CEO of the Australia Council for the Arts. “As Australian of the Year, Geoffrey will bring an artist’s perspective to important social issues and will help to tell those stories.”
With an already passionate dedication to the Australian theatre and film world, Geoffrey will use his role as Australian of the Year to improve the visibility and credibility for Australian theatre and film. It’s also an important opportunity to highlight the strength of Australian arts, as well issues that face the sector such the difficulty for artists in maintaining careers.
“Australians are passionate arts goers and they understand the important role the arts play in our society,” says Kathy. “But maintaining a career as an artist is still extremely difficult, so to have someone such as Geoffrey named Australian of the Year is a wonderful opportunity to put the spotlight on all our talented artists and to generate understanding and support for what they do.”
“With the approach of the new National Cultural policy, 2012 is well on its way to becoming the year of Australian arts.” says Kathy.
A consummate theatre actor, he has continued to choose roles that intrigue and challenge him, as opposed to star vehicles. This unpretentious, playful and collegiate approach to working on the Australian stage, has earned him as much respect within the sector as the trophies he has won.
Amongst much else, Rush is known for his long association with Belvoir (Company B), where he took an active interest in up-and-coming theatre artists, acting as patron of Belvoir’s B Sharp season of independent theatre works for 12 years. His generosity with both time and talent is well-known within the arts sector. During seasons at Belvoir, he could often be found after performances mixing with actors, crew and audience members, and talking with emerging artists about their work.
Rush is an ambassador for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and UNICEF Australia, and last year he was appointed the foundation president of the newly-formed Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. Rush is also patron of the Melbourne International Film Festival, Toowoomba's Empire Theatre Foundation, the Spina Bifida Foundation Victoria.