The Australia Council notes with sadness the death of Mel Ward AO, whose influence on the arts sector in Australia over the past two decades was considerable.
“Mel Ward recorded considerable achievements in the corporate world as a former managing director of Telecom Australia, and subsequently as a non-executive director of a number of major Australian companies,” says Australia Council Chief Executive Officer Kathy Keele.
“But no matter how busy with his corporate commitments, Mel always made time for an additional contribution to the arts, where he was in his element as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable arts consumer.”
Mel Ward accepted an offer to become a Board Member of The Australian Ballet in 1991, and he subsequently chaired the Ballet Board until 2002. In that year, he accepted a request from the Australian Government to become the second Chairman of the Australia Council’s Major Performing Arts Board (MPAB), succeeding inaugural chair Dr Helen Nugent AO.
As MPAB Chairman, Mel Ward participated enthusiastically in all aspects of the major performing arts sector, forging direct relations with the chairs and chief executives of all 28 MPA companies. He consulted closely with the then Australian Government Minister for the Arts to ensure that the MPAB had the right mix of corporate and artistic skills, and was indefatigable in his oversight of the MPA companies’ operations, both financial and artistic. He served as MPAB Chair until late 2005.
“Mel Ward set a great example as a corporate leader with a love of the arts,” said Kathy Keele. “His contribution as both the MPAB Chairman and a member of the Australia Council itself will long be remembered and appreciated.