Our Mission

The mission of the Seaborn Broughton & Walford Foundation is to promote and encourage the knowledge, understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of drama, opera, dance, mime, music, puppetry and all other forms and facets of the performing arts in all their expressions within Australia. This is made possible by providing financial and other support for a wide variety of individuals and organisations involved in Australian theatre and performing arts through the funding of grants and projects, fostering and promoting education, training, research and scholarship by preserving and making accessible the resources of the SBW Foundation Archives and Library and supporting the Griffin Theatre Company in its role of developing and staging leading new Australian writing and theatre.

  • To promote and encourage, either directly or indirectly, the knowledge, understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of drama, opera, dance, mime, music, puppetry and all other forms and facets of the performing arts and other arts in Australia including the plastic arts in so far as they may relate to the performing arts in all their expressions forms and media;
  • To promote and foster painting, sculpture, craft work, community and ethnic arts and languages, radio, films, television, literature, compilation of historical records and all areas relating to the visual arts and any other art in Australia in any way whatever and in particular, and without limiting the generality thereof to arrange exhibitions and promote productions, to encourage performance and execution, to publish and distribute material related thereto, to provide involvement through participation throughout the community, to stimulate and generate interest in any way whatever in any of the arts, to foster exchange of information by lectures, readings or any other method, to organise excursions and to provide technical, financial or other assistance in respect thereof;
  • To produce present and manage Australian and overseas performing arts, performing artists and authors so as to contribute to the arts in Australia;
  • To acquire, subsidise, build and convert buildings to or for the use of the performing arts;
  • To establish, promote, subsidise and conduct schools, lectures, courses, seminars and other forms of education in the performing arts;
  • To teach, train and instruct performing artists in Australia and elsewhere and to promote education and research in the performing arts in Australia and overseas with the aim of developing the performing arts in Australia;
  • To publish and promote in any media and otherwise support the dissemination by all means and media knowledge and information concerning the performing arts and Australian performing artists and arts organisations in particular;
  • To make grants and donations and provide limited or unlimited guarantees against loss to performing artists and performing arts organisations with a view to promoting all of any of the Foundation’s purposes;
  • To co-operate with other Foundations, Trusts, natural persons, bodies or organisations both within and outside Australia with purposes or objects in whole or part similar to the purposes of the Foundation;
    So far as the law will permit and subject to any relevant statute, rule, regulation or by-law and/or any licence issued in pursuance thereof, to solicit, receive enlist and accept subscriptions, donations, bequests or grants in money or in kind from individuals, trusts, companies, associations, societies, institutions and other organisations or authorities and from Government, semi-government and public authorities or bodies to conduct fund-raising campaigns to that end;
  • So far as the law will permit and subject to any relevant statute, rule, regulation or by-law and/or any licence issued in pursuance thereof, to solicit, receive enlist and accept subscriptions, donations, bequests or grants in money or in kind from individuals, trusts, companies, associations, societies, institutions and other organisations or authorities and from Government, semi-government and public authorities or bodies to conduct fund-raising campaigns to that end;
  • Notwithstanding anything herein before contained no funds of the Foundation however raised or arising and whether income or capital shall be used at any time for any purpose not being a purpose of this Foundation and no funds of the Foundation shall be made available in any way to any person body organisation, company or fund for any private profit to any person or for any other purpose inconsistent with the Foundation’s purposes. Provided also that no director of the trustee shall be appointed to any salaried office of the Foundation.


Dr. Rodney Frederick Marsden Seaborn AO OBE (1912-2008) was an eminent Sydney psychiatrist and a generous patron of the performing arts. He had a a lifelong love of theatre and theatre history and a keen interest in property. These interests and his philanthropic generosity intersected to create a valuable and impressive legacy. When the Stables Theatre in Kings Cross, home to the Griffin Theatre Company, went up for sale in 1986 and risked possible demolition, Dr Seaborn, then in retirement,  generously responded to a cry for help and bought it. At the same time, he established a charitable trust to benefit the performing arts, so that theatre lovers could join as Friends and assist him in his new role as a performing arts philanthropist. He named the trust the Seaborn Broughton & Walford Foundation, incorporating his family’s names, and invited his cousins Dr Peter Broughton and Leslie Walford onto the Founding Board. Several years later, he repeated this theatre rescue mission when Sydney’s oldest ‘live' theatre, the Independent in North Sydney, then empty and in serious disrepair, was was put up for sale. He established the SBW Friends of the Independent and, with the enthusiastic support of the Foundation’s Friends, the local Council and wider community, ensured that the Independent restoration project was successful and fully funded. The Theatre reopened in 1998 for the benefit of the performing arts, the community and the education of future generations. Dr Seaborn was a generous donor to the performing arts and the Foundation has encouraged worthy performing arts projects, individuals and groups by providing promotion and  financial support. His passion for theatre history was the impetus for his further significant contribution to the performing arts in Australia, the creation of a the unique Seaborn Broughton & Walford Foundtaion Archive, Library and Performing Arts Collection.





The SBW Foundation is a charitable trust managed by a Board of Directors. The current SBW Directors are:

Mr Peter Lowry OAM LLB - Chairman

Mr James R.G Bell BA LLB 

Ms Elizabeth Butcher AM

Mr Jonathan Casson BA LLB (ANU), LLM (Syd)

Mr John Clark AM

Mr Michael S. Diamond AM MBE

Mr Kevin Jackson

Mr Bill Power

The Hon. Lloyd Waddy AM, RFD, QC


Mr Adam Smith

The Board of Directors meets 4 times a year in February, May, August and November.

Applications for assistance are determined at the May and November meetings.


Ms Elizabeth Butcher AM

Mr John Clark AM

Mr Kevin Jackson

Mr Gary Simpson AM

All applications are reviewed by the SBW Grants Committee. The Committee meets prior to the June and the December SBW Board meeting to assess all applications for assistance.


Ms Carol Martin - Administrator

Mrs Georgie Davis - Assistant to Administrator

Mrs Christine Yeats - Principal Consulting Archivist

Mr Neil Pollock - Archivist

Mr Aarne Neeme - Performing Arts Consultant (Archives)

Dr Judy White AM - (Hon) Archives and Library Consultant

Dr Carolyn Lowry OAM - (Hon) Public Relations Consultant



The Foundation was inspired by Dr. Rodney Frederick Marsden Seaborn ("Dr. Seaborn") who as long as he can remember has been interested in theatre.

This interest was inculcated upon him from a very early age by frequent reminiscences of his father who himself, as a young man, had done much amateur acting. Thereafter, his interest was fostered by his mother and grandmother (Mrs Frank Broughton nee Walford) who were both theatre goers and first nighters.

In later years, after World War Two, his interest was stimulated by the "smaller theatre" which was springing up in Sydney and elsewhere and especially by some plays in which he had seen John Bell. The original Nimrod Theatre (later called the "Stables") was the venue he particularly liked, not only because of some ofthe fine performances he had seen there, but also because of the atmosphere of the theatre itself – its smallness, its intimacy and the closeness of the audience with the performers which, in some way, increased one's empathy.

Some years ago, when John Bell and others were seeking funds for the "Nimrod" he was very tempted to become involved but for various reasons did not. In recent years the Griffin Theatre Company have been leasing "The Stables Theatre" (the original Nimrod Theatre) and Dr. Seaborn has enjoyed the productions he has seen there and still liked the atmosphere of the theatre.

In November 1985 he saw in the Sydney Morning Herald an appeal by the Griffin Theatre Company to help save the Stables Theatre for theatre. The reason for this appeal was that the building was going up for auction sale and might well be lost to them as their home and, also there might be lost a theatre which was the cradle in Australia for many Australian plays and performers. The Griffin Theatre Company itself was also fully committed to an Australian emphasis in their productions.

Dr. Seaborn thought that if he could purchase the theatre he would offer it to the Griffin Company, rent free, provided they become responsible for the expenses of all outgoings and for the cost of any renovations required by the various authorities.

Dr. Seaborn went round to the Stables Theatre and saw a young man at the reception counter and obtained from him the name and telephone number of the Administrator, Bill Eggerking. He phoned him, told him of the proposition. Bill Eggerking and Penny Cook, a well known actress, a devotee and stimulating force to the Griffin and the Australian theatre generally. She was then a director of the Griffin and a daughter of Pam Lovell who was known to Dr. Seaborn.

They were enthusiastic at the proposition and arranged a meeting with their Board. At this meeting were present John Senczuk (chairman), Penny Cook, David Lynch, Lilliam Horler, Katharine Brisbane, Robert Love, Ruth Buchanan, Bill Eggerking and Dr. Seaborn.

The proposition was accepted very happily. Lilian Horler mentioned that she wore two hats, one as a director of the Griffin Theatre and another as one who wanted to see a charitable Foundation set up to promote Australian Theatre and performing arts and that perhaps, in some way, the interests of both "hats" might some day be married. Dr. Seaborn later discovered that Lilian Horler with her husband Ken Horler and John Bell and others had been the ones who had founded the original Nimrod Theatre and had found the venue (the present Stables Theatre) and named it "The Nimrod Theatre" after the street in which it was situated.

On the day appointed for the auction sale Bill Eggerking, Lilian Horler, Dr. Seaborn and Paul Dufty, his solicitor, attended the venue at Double Bay where the auction was to have been held. Unfortunately, the Stables Theatre was withdrawn from sale at the last minute by the owners, Bob Ellis and his wife, who had decided not to sell.

This was a severe disappointment to us all. However, Dr. Seaborn was able to assist the Griffin Company, who had recently lost their offices in Victoria Street, by allowing them to use as an office a small house he had recently purchased and renovated in Little Burton Street at Darlinghurst.

The seed that Lilian Horler had sown, grew and Dr. Seaborn contemplated making a grant of $500,000.00 to set up a charitable foundation for the benefit of Australian Theatre and Performing Arts, the Foundation to be named "The Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation". Each of the three names represents the name of a family of which he is part. His father was Leslie Seaborn, his mother's maiden surname was Broughton and his maternal grandmother's maiden surname was Walford.

Dr. Seaborn approached only four persons asking if they would be associated with him on the Foundation and Dr. Seaborn has been honoured by each of them accepting. Two of them are his cousins and they have a common grandparent named Walford. Dr. Seaborn has known, liked and respected each of the directors of the trustee company. His cousin, Dr. Peter Broughton, is a recently retired medical practitioner. His cousin, Leslie Walford, is a well known interior designer and decorator. Antony Larkins, Q.C. is a recently retired Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, who has been a close and good friend to Dr. Seaborn for many years. Lloyd Waddy is a barrister-at-Iaw with keen interest in theatre and as an old boy of The Kings ' School has been very active and highly regarded in furthering its activities and development.

The Foundation's solicitor and secretary is Paul Dufty, a partner in the firm of Garland Seaborn & Abbott, who has been Dr. Seaborn 's solicitor for many years and his grandfather, Jack Benecke, a consultant solicitor of Garland, Seaborn & Abbott, was a partner of Dr. Seaborn's father in that firm . Peter Kellaway is the accountant to the Foundation and has been Dr. Seaborn's accountant for many years. His family also have been associated as close friends of Dr. Seaborn's family for many years.

Each of the directors, Peter Kellaway, Paul Dufty, Penny Cook and Bill Eggerking have already given much of their valuable time and much enthusiasm in the formative period of the Foundation. Dr. Seaborn's appreciation to them may have been poorly expressed but has been very genuinely felt. Dr. Seaborn would like here to also express his appreciation to Lilian Horler, not only for the seed that she sowed but also for the advice, friendship and practical assistance that she and Ken Horler have given and which he hopes they will continue to give. In September 1986 Bill Eggerking advised that "The Stables Theatre" was again being offered for sale by Bob Ellis and his wife for  $200,000.00. The Foundation was established and purchased the theatre. The terms and conditions of any lease relating to the theatre will, of course, be decided by the Trustee. The first lessee and thereby first beneficiary of the Foundation will appropriately be the Griffin Theatre Company which will have a secure home. This will enable them to proceed with their policy of producing mostly Australian plays. The enthusiasm and warmth of the members of the Griffin Theatre Company in acquiring a "permanent and secure home" for their activities and their desire to help in furthering the Foundation has been heart warming.

For purposes of the Foundation's history it is worth recording with thanks the names of the Griffin members who have shown their enthusiasm for the Foundation, which makes one feel that the venture will eventually turn out to be very worthwhile, especially if they can continue to stimulate such enthusiasm. The names are those already mentioned and also:
1. Micahel Gow - Present Chainnan of the Griffin Board & Australian playwright
2. Peter Kingston - A Director of Griffin Theatre and Artistic Director
3. Mark Butler-A Director of Griffin Board
4. Terence Clarke - Director of Griffin Board
5. Noel Hodda - Director Griffin Board
6. Lynn Bogarde - Theatre Manager
7. Jeremy Thomson - Former Publicist
8. Judith Cruden - Present Publicist
9. Cata Kennedy - Co-ordinator
10. Mark Mitchell- Production Manager
11. Freda Hilbery - Indefatigable Voluntary Worker
12. Nick Enright - who has given much interesting history of the "Nimrod" and "Stables",

Thanks are also due to Dr. Seaborn's secretary, Mrs Phil Miller, (Assistant Secretary), to Mrs Nancy Synge (Social Secretary), Mrs Joan Birch (Treasurer) and Mr. Michael Wu, each of whom, in a variety of ways, have given much assistance.

One hopes that from now on adequate records will be kept of the Foundation's activities and when read will show that our Foundation has contributed much in benefiting the development, education and promotion of the Australian Theatre and Performing Arts.