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Dennis Wolanski




Dennis Wolanski OAM (1917-1992)

The Wolanski Foundation Project serves as a memorial to Dennis Wolanski's drive, generosity and creative energy.

Born in Poland, Dennis Wolanski survived the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation before migrating to Australia via Paris in 1950.

Having acquired skills as a shirt designer and cutter in Paris, he landed a job in Sydney with Club Shirts. His inventive spirit bore fruit when he designed the Lido clip-on tie. This created an entrepreneurial chain reaction - finding a factory for the ties pushed Dennis into property development, which compounded his business success and opened up time for artistic pursuits.

His interest in sculpture blossomed from the 1970s, when he exhibited in many mixed shows and was commissioned to create works for public spaces and buildings both in Australia and abroad. His Angled Wheels of Fortune is sited at Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross, Sydney. He exhibited in the 18th International Exhibition of Sculpture at Milan's Museo d'Arte Moderna in 1988. He was Vice-President of the Society of Sculptors and Associates for a number of years.

In 1973, philanthropic interests were released when he provided funds to help established the Dennis Wolanski Library and Archives of the Performing Arts, serving Sydney Opera House management and staff, the entertainment industry and the general public. As a member and, later, Chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust Library Sub-committee, he guided the development of the library until his death in 1992.

For his services to the arts, he was honoured, in 1988, by the Australian Government with a medal in the general division of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Phillip Wolanski, AM


Phillip is Managing Director of Denwol, a private property development and investment company, and balances his business commitments with interests in the arts, football and other endeavours.

He served on the Sydney Opera House Trust's Library Subcommittee for a number of years before becoming its Chairman in 1992, following the death of his father, until 1997.

"After the closure of the library by the Sydney Opera House Trust in 1997, I was keen to find some way of commemorating my father's contribution to the arts, particularly in supporting the documentation of the performing arts and the provision of information services to the general public. I hope the Wolanski Foundation Project will carry on the work of the Dennis Wolanski Library and Archives of the Performing Arts - with the same end in sight but through different means."

The Wolanski family provided financial support for Opera House digitisation programs in 2011 and for the restoration of the film Autopsy on a Dream, a collaboration of the Sydney Opera House and Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in 2013.

Phillip was appointed to the Sydney Opera House Trust in 2014.

He was a board member of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts from 2001 to 2007 and has provided financial support for development of the NIDA/SBW Foundation performing arts collection and other NIDA projects.

He has been a director of Football Federation Australia since 2003 and Head of Delegation for the national team since 2004. In 2006, he retired as a Board Member and Vice-President of Hakoah Club after serving for 9 years.


He is member of the Governing Committee of the Temora Aviation Museum, a public museum devoted to the preservation of military aircraft of historical significance to Australia and honouring the pilots who have risked their lives flying in the defence of Australia.

Phillip was honoured as a Member (AM) in the general division of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours, June 2008, for service to the community through executive roles and contributions to a range of arts, sporting and cultural organisations, particularly the National Institute of Dramatic Art

Paul Bentley


In addition to his role as director of the Wolanski Foundation Project, Paul manages a portfolio of services to other organisations. As director of Paul Bentley & Associates, he has provided consulting services on information management and the arts to a range of clients including the NSW Department of Housing, Flinders University (for the AusStage performing arts gateway project), Inspire Press, Social Change Online, Catholic Education Office, Goethe-Institut and the National Institute of Dramatic Art. From 2006-2012, he also served as executive officer of Museums Australia (NSW).


His writing commitments include feature articles for Thomson Reuters' Online Currents, Australia's journal for users of online services, and he has contributed to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Companion to Theatre in Australia and Australians: a Historical Library. He is member of University of Technology Sydney Information and Knowledge Management Advisory Board.


As a manager at the Sydney Opera House 1973-1997, he was responsible for the Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts 1973-1997, TheatreWorks performing arts museum project 1986-1995, Information and Communications Project 1991-1993, and several exhibitions about the House - The Building of the Century Exhibition 1988-1989, Unseen Utzon Exhibition 1994-95 and Sydney Opera House Travelling Exhibition, which was presented at the Kennedy Center Festival Australia and venues in Europe and Asia, 1994-1995. Previous experience included stints at the State Library of New South Wales, Lake Macquarie Shire Library and Newcastle Public Library.


He has been involved in the development of a number of professional associations including Museums Australia (NSW Branch Executive Officer, 2006-2012; consultancy on future directions and records management, 2015; Performing Arts Heritage Network treasurer, 2013), Arts Libraries Society / Australia and New Zealand (Australasian and NSW chair 2002-2004), NSW Knowledge Management Forum (committee member 2003-2007), Australian Library and Information Association Information Specialists and Australasian Information Online conference national committees 2000-2003, International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (NSW chair 1981-1998, Australian Vice-President 1983-1984), Museums Arts and Humanities Group (co-founder.1974-1977), the Orchestras of Australia Network (Database committee 1995-1998), Library Association of Australia Special Libraries Section (NSW Committee, various years); Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services (NSW State Committee 1983-1984); International Association of Sound Archives (Convener, 1990 International Conference Committee). 



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Page last updated: 23 February 2015