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Sarah Billinghurst


Inducted 2010

Receives this award in recognition of her contribution to the Arts as an administrator both nationally and internationally.

Sarah’s career as an artistic administrator began in the 1970s when she moved to the United States having completed her Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Political Science at Victoria University. Starting with voluntary work for the San Francisco Opera Company this soon led to permanent employment and eventually to the position of Artistic Administrator. Her skill and professionalism were sought after and in 1994 she moved to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York where she is Assistant Manager, Artistic with responsibility for all aspects of the 32 week annual Opera season amongst other activities.

Her career has brought her in contact not only with major opera artists such as Domingo, Pavorotti and Kiri Te Kanawa but also with the major opera companies of the world. A good business sense, organization and tact are cornerstones of her work as she is often in the position of dealing with emergencies and people and with “great and fragile egos”

Her responsibilities with the Met have also allowed her to extend the company’s performance to audiences beyond New York through the use of digital technology allowing broadcasts and high definition screenings of operas in cinemas throughout the world and New Zealand.

She returns to New Zealand often where she is on the Board of Kia Ora Foundation, a non profit organization which funds scholarships for educational purposes for New Zealand students. She is also continues to support opera in New Zealand through Wanganui Opera. She has maintained her interest in Marsden recognizes that her love of opera started at school with regular outings to concerts and opera performances in Wellington.

Full of energy she feels that chance and good fortune have led her to just the right career, both for her interests and her temperament, and she is totally absorbed, fulfilled and happy in its pursuit.