2020 SydneySavageClubmembers

Meet the Donors - Sydney Savage Club


Published: 04/08/2020 2:00pm

If COVID-19 was all but a dream, one of our most major events of the year, the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship, would have taken place just a week ago.

In the event’s absence this year, we are taking this time to introduce you to one of the Opera Scholarship’s principal donors over the years – Sydney Savage Club (SSC).

SSC are a not-for-profit organisation and charity in NSW, providing funds to encourage talented young performers in the fields of music and theatre.

We caught up with president of the SSC, Denys Gillespie, to give this community an opportunity to  ‘e-meet’ one of our wonderful sponsors supporting events like our Opera Scholarship year to year.


Why do you believe Sydney Savage Club has been supporting organisations like Sydney Eisteddfod for so long?

Sydney Eisteddfod was always one of the biggest arts organisations in Sydney and invited the greatest number of people from all walks of life.

The principal members of SSC around Sydney Eisteddfod’s establishment were opera singers like John Germain and other famous names at the time with a singing background so that’s why we would have chosen to sponsor the Opera Scholarship out of all of the events which has continued for years now. 

How would you describe the relationship between Sydney Savage Club and Sydney Eisteddfod over the years?

Sydney Savage Club was established in 1934 so we virtually began at the same time as Sydney Eisteddfod [established in 1933].

The Savage Club in Sydney is 86 years old and Sydney Eisteddfod is 87 years old, so we have probably been associated with each other from the day we first started - so a long time!

I suspect that the original SSC members years ago wanted to support SE as it has always been an organisation with similar values and goals to ourselves.

Can you tell us A BIT about Sydney Savage Club and its history?

I think it's important to note that the SSC logo says much about its diverse aims and mission. It represents the opera, music, literature and arts worlds in one symbol which we’ve kept in place for years.

It is called the Savage Club because in the middle 1850s people involved at the very beginning were supporting all sorts of arts in that time.

People like Charles Dickens and other famous names were involved in the club in London. When they decided they wanted to name it after someone, they didn’t want to name it after someone famous so instead, they named it after a man called Richard Savage from 100 years earlier.

Richard led an interesting life, but he definitely did try and support people in the arts areas in that time.

SSC was some decades ago now, an all-male club, but it became open to ladies in the mid-90s.

Logo Sydney Savage Club

Photo - Sydney Savage Club Logo discussed in question above.

Header photo - features SSC president Denys Gillespie, Joan Carden and SSC Patron David Malouf respectively. 

This has been a difficult time for all businesses in every industry, with the entertainment and arts industry being deeply affected. How has Sydney Savage Club been going during this pandemic?

Around 50 years ago there was about 400-500 male members. Last year we had about 100 paid members.

This year it has dropped dramatically to only 30 and a bit due to Covid-19.

We would really love people to come and be involved again after this is all is over.

What do you most enjoy about Sydney Eisteddfod’s Opera Scholarship event and why?

I would have been there this year and presented the award for this Final.

What I enjoy most is just seeing fresh new people that need to be given an opportunity to excel in their passions and have worked very hard in their lives.

It is great to be able to give them a reasonable prize so they can continue training in Australia or overseas, get further scholarships as they progress towards their dream careers and to just generally support the future generations of opera singers.

Is there anything in your life as president of this club which has spurred your love and passion for the arts?

My father was a very good singer in the 50s and 60s. I married a young lady I met at a musical society. It has always been a part of my life and I have just grown up with it.

I have been the president of the Sydney Savage Club for the last five years and have loved it.


We thank Denys for speaking to us for this interview and for all that the Sydney Savage Club has done for (and continues to do for) Sydney Eisteddfod. 

We deeply value the special partnership between our two organisations which has continued  for many years now and are so thankful for the opportunities which Sydney Savage Club has enabled for our young performers every year.  

If you are able to, please consider making a donation to help Sydney Eisteddfod come back bigger and better in 2021.

Your generous support will allow us to continue to champion and celebrate our young performing artists for generations to come.