Celebrating NIDA's Diamond Anniversary: New student fund to remove financial barriers

5 December 2019

NIDA Diamond Anniversary Dinner

As part of its 60th anniversary, NIDA hosted an exclusive Diamond Anniversary Dinner dedicated to the founding of a NIDA Student Fund.

Over $115,000 was raised, thanks to some of the nation’s most prominent philanthropists and arts and education leaders.

The purpose of the new Student Fund is to remove financial barriers for talented prospective students to attend NIDA, and to support students to be able to take advantage of NIDA’s extensive TV, film and theatre connections, through experiences such as international placements and festival attendance.

NIDA Acting and Musical Theatre students perform

NIDA Acting and Musical Theatre students provided entertainment throughout the Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

A very special form of support came from ARA Group, NIDA’s Principal Partner for Property Services, who announced a full scholarship for an Indigenous student across the whole three years of any Bachelor of Fine Arts course.

ARA Group, NIDA's Principal Partner for Property Services

NIDA's Principal Partner for Property Services, ARA, announced their provision of a scholarship for an Indigenous student.

The great success of the night would not have been possible without such generous support from NIDA’s sponsors. Luxury fine jewellers House of K’Dor donated the resplendent 2.11carat diamond Solar Ring for auction.

House of K'Dor at NIDA Diamond Anniversary Dinner

House of K'Dor Solar Ring

Solar Ring donated by luxury fine jewellers House of K'Dor for NIDA's Diamond Anniversary Dinner auction.

Tempus Two at NIDA Diamond Anniversary Dinner

Exceptional Hunter Valley winemakers Tempus Two provided the wine for the evening, and a limited edition double magnum for auction.

Tempus Two wine at NIDA Diamond Anniversary Dinner

Tempus Two provided their exceptional Hunter Valley wines for the evening, and a limited edition double magnum for auction.

Legends of craft beer, Young Henry’s, kept everyone merry with a generous provision of their signature beverages.

Young Henry's beers

Young Henry's at NIDA Diamond Anniversary Dinner

Young Henry's at NIDA's Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

Hosted by award-winning actor, writer, filmmaker and NIDA graduate Akos Armont (Acting, 2007), entertainment was provided throughout the evening by renowned alumni Hugh Sheridan (Acting, 2007) and Peter Cousens AM (Acting, 1978), rising star graduate Rachel Mayrick (Diploma of Musical Theatre, 2018) and current NIDA Acting and Musical Theatre students.

Akos Armont

Award-winning actor, writer, filmmaker and NIDA graduate Akos Armont hosted the Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

The widely admired and award-winning actor, Rob Collins (Acting, 2013), shared his own personal story on the evening. Known for The Wrong Girl, Cleverman and Mystery Road, Rob told of how philanthropic support had assisted him when he moved from Darwin to undertake training at NIDA.

‘Having the support of a scholarship, given by a generous donor, allowed me to study without worrying about finances,’ Rob said.

Actor Rob Collins

Award-winning actor Rob Collins (Acting, 2013) was a special guest speaker at NIDA's Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

Billed alongside Juilliard and Yale as one of the world’s top drama schools, one of the very things that sets NIDA apart – the rigour of its world-famous training, and the commitment and hours required to attain greatness – means that casual or part-time jobs are almost impossible to hold down for a student at NIDA.

Peter Cousens AM

Renowned Australian actor and NIDA graduate Peter Cousens AM performed at NIDA's Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

Alongside the increasingly high cost of living in Sydney, this becomes a financial barrier to students whose families cannot fully support them – particularly affecting students from interstate.

Hugh Sheridan

Beloved Australian actor and NIDA graduate Hugh Sheridan performed at NIDA's Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

This issue was real for third-year Acting student Melissa Kahraman, who comes from Melbourne. Speaking to invited guests, Melissa shared her personal journey, and narrated how great an impact even a small amount of financial support had on her day-to-day life.

Third-year Acting student Melissa Kahraman

Third-year Acting student, Melissa Kahraman, spoke at NIDA's Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

‘For 60 years, NIDA has been a byword for the highest level of dramatic arts training, a benchmark for extreme talent and the birthplace of Australian film and theatre,’ Chairman of the NIDA Foundation Trust, Peter Ivany AM observed.

‘To retain NIDA’s position as a global authority, we must be training the best of the best, and this means being able to support students from rural and remote areas, from low socio-economic and diverse backgrounds.

Peter Ivany AM

Chairman of the NIDA Foundation Trust, Peter Ivany AM.

‘NIDA has always had scholarships and bursaries, but the heightened cost of living in Sydney has created a need for a permanent reservoir to widen the road – to provide Australia’s most ambitious and passionate talents with the access they deserve to NIDA’s world-renowned training, guidance and networks.’

NIDA CEO Jennifer Bott AO explained, ‘During the admissions period, our heads of department travel all around Australia, from Hobart to Darwin to Perth and back again, interviewing and auditioning diverse prospective students.

NIDA CEO Jennifer Bott AO

NIDA CEO Jennifer Bott AO.

‘When they unearth an extraordinary talent, no matter their family background or financial capability, we need to be able to look them in the eye and promise that we can bring them to NIDA, where they will be supported as they strive to fulfil their talents.

‘The talent pool from which we select our elite cohort must not be restricted by individual financial situations. We must foster future generations of storytellers who can tell our stories with diverse voices.’

Sibylle Jarosch, co-director of NIDA's Foundation Trust Andrew Banks, Andrea Banks and Jodie Noll.

(L–R) Sibylle Jarosch, co-director of NIDA's Foundation Trust Andrew Banks, Andrea Banks and Jodie Noll.

One of the directors of the NIDA Foundation Trust, Andrew Banks, may be known to television viewers as one of the ‘sharks’ from entrepreneurial investment program Shark Tank. However, when he first came to Australia from England, he was interested only in acting and theatre, and studied with the Old Tote Theatre Company that preceded NIDA’s formation.

‘NIDA is one of Australia’s most important global cultural assets,’ Andrew Banks remarked. ‘It has the respect of the world, and to remain competitive with our global peers, we need to build a “war chest”: a large-scale student fund comparable to that possessed by the schools of drama at Yale, Carnegie Mellon and RADA.

‘We must invest in the excellence of our future generations – and keep one of our great cultural assets on par with global standard.’

NIDA Musical Theatre and Acting students perform

NIDA Musical Theatre and Acting students perform at the Diamond Anniversary Dinner.

Photographer: Christian Gilles

NIDA Student Fund