Mary Lopez AM – Arts Initiatives – Schools Spectacular

Mary Lopez

The Schools Spectacular is the greatest example of how we can be unified and speak with one voice. Each year we witness over 3,000 young performers from across NSW, from vastly different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, who in only one full cast rehearsal go on show to the general public! A truly remarkable achievement for the teachers, students and their families, the professional technical team and NSW public education, all of whom own the magnificent Schools Spectacular!

Mary Lopez is committed to finding ways to develop and showcase talented Australians of all ages and backgrounds.

She is the founding producer and director of the Schools Spectacular, an annual production featuring more than 3,000 young singers, dancers and musicians, staged the Sydney Entertainment Centre and broadcast nationally on ABC TV. She directed this pageant for 25 years and continues to be involved as Emeritus Director. She is also the soloists’ creative consultant on new shows.

Mary has been responsible for producing and directing many major public events including An Australian Christmas at Darling Harbour, the World Indigenous People’s Conference opening and closing ceremonies, the Australia Day concert at the World Expo in Tsukuba, Japan, the Papal Welcome and Celebration for the Beatification of Mary MacKillop and Jubilee 2000 at Sydney Super Dome featuring more than 2,000 young performers.

Her passion for nurturing talented young people led her in 1991 to co-found the Talent Development Project (TDP), Australia’s most respected music industry training program, which prepares exceptionally gifted young performers for careers in the music and entertainment industry. Mary has been Artistic Director of this unique scheme since its inception.

As Artistic Director of the TDP, Mary was instrumental in creating the Bound for Broadway Scholarships in conjunction with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. These scholarships enable outstanding TDP graduates to attend music theatre workshops in New York conducted by some of Broadway’s leading names. Since 2006 more than ten TDP graduates have travelled to the USA to attend these workshops.

Mary’s success also lies in her inclusiveness. She has, through the TDP and the Schools Spectacular given Indigenous students and those with disabilities a chance to excel regardless of their circumstances.

Mary’s contribution to the performing arts was recognised in her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia. In 2007 she received the Variety Humanitarian of the Year Award and in 2010 her contribution to public education and the arts was recognised with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Western Sydney. In 2012 Mary received the prestigious Ted Albert Award for outstanding services to Australian Music and the Australian Events Award, Lifetime Achievement Award recognising her remarkable contribution to the Australian events industry over a sustained period of time.