As far as corporate fundraising events go the Prime Minister’s Olympic Dinner is one of the biggest.
Report by Trevor Connell
1278 guests attended the event including 95 current and past Olympians including 33 gold medallists ranging from Ian Browne OAM (Cycling) and Dawn Fraser AO (Swimming) who won gold at the 1956 Melbourne Games, through to the latest medal recipient, Jarrad Tallent who was presented with his medal for the 50Km walk in London on the day before this event.
Peter Jones’ philosophy in producing an event like this is simple. This event is attended by the cream of the corporate world that pay $30,000 per table and if you want them to come back again in four years’ time then you have to give them a night to remember.
That means great food and wine, great networking opportunities and outstanding entertainment.
First the food and wine – Executive Chef Peter Haycroft oversees the catering and he is determined to ensure that a restaurant quality meal is served from the MCEC’s vast kitchens. Peter describes the choice of food and the delivery process in the video below.
The wines were sponsored by Treasury Wine Estates and their Fine Wine Director, George Samios told the guests about the special wines he sourced for this event from the Wolf Blass White Label collection.
Each table was paid for by a corporation – the likes of Qantas, Telstra, American Express, ANZ bank, Australia Post, Coca-Cola Amital and Westpac. These corporates hosted clients, politicians, business leaders and an Olympian. That provides for serious networking.
Speeches were kept to a minimum – obviously the Prime Minister had a bit to say. Other speakers included the PMOC Chairman, David Thodey and John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee.
The opening ceremony of the night saw Rio Olympic torches carried in by Natalie Cook, Dawn Fraser, Catherine Freeman and Ian Thorpe, who then ceremonially lit the PMOC logo. This was accompanied by poet Rupert McCall (who talks about the process in the video below).
33 Olympic Gold Medallists were welcomed to the stage and joined by Jemma Rix who sang “Heroes Live Forever” (from the 2000 Sydney Olympics) accompanied by the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and the orchestra of the Australian National Academy of Music.
The legendary sports commentator, Bruce McAvaney interviewed Jarad Tallent and Belinda Hocking.
Then a Rio medley featuring the orchestra, choir and band who were backing Bonnie Anderson and Cyrus Villanueva who were accompanied on stage by dancers and drummers. Big finale, then main course.
Are you getting the drift of this event now? So where to from there?
The feature act of the night was billed as Australian Olympic Rock. The choir, the orchestra and a rock band backing …. Ross Wilson – Eagle Rock; Jimmy Barnes – Khe Sanh; Jessica Mauboy – My Island Home; Russell Morris – The Real Thing; Dami Im – Sound of Silence; Jimmy Barnes – Working Class Man; John Farnham – You’re the Voice.
Then the finale, Farnham opens Long Way to the Top and is joined by all the others.
Meanwhile, the front of the stage featured the most amazing mosh pit ever seen as corporate heavyweights were joined by the likes of Julie Bishop, Dawn Fraser and Catherine Freeman.
Then to finish it off an hour of dancing to the Chong Lim Band.
The goal of the event was to raise $2.5M to help cover the athletes’ costs to get to Rio – they raised $2.8M helped by the fact that all the feature acts performed for no fee.
I spoke to a number of people during the evening and on the production side all were singing the praises of the professionalism and creativity of the Peter Jones and Chong Lim (music director) and of the PJSE team. Meanwhile, Glen Wheatley (Farnham’s manager) described Peter Jones as the best he had worked with and David Thodey (PMOD Chairman) called him the best in the business.
The event involved 312 performers and 58 crew scroll down for full production credits and behind the scenes video interviews.
The client – Victorian Olympic Council, David Thodey chairman
Venue – Plenary at MCEC
Peter Jones, Executive Producer
Emma Hedin, Event Producer
Sue Pearson, Event Manager
Lori Montalto, Event Coordinator
Deborah Stuckey, Volunteer and gift distribution coordinator
Kristy Foulcher, Olympians and VIP/Dignitaries Coordinator
Olivia Dal Bo, F&B coordinator
Martin Featherston, ShowUp – Technical Director
Tim Newman – Production Designer
Toby Harding, Offset Dice – Vision Design and Production (graphics)
Grant Walsh – FOH Engineer
Laurence Winston – Camera Director
Ade Barnard – Production Manager
Lighting – Resolution X
Audio – Alpha Audio
Screens, video, cameras – Mediatec
Draping – Active Draping
Extra Staging – Geckco
George Hanna, Fiona Schneider, Julie-Ann Willems, Celia Welch, Annie Reid, Helen Papadomanolakis, Kirsty Moody, Ben Langan, Rebecca Scott
Farai Chigwedere, Event Planner
Darren Southurst, Plenary Manager
Jeffery Harris, Team Leader – Planning
Peter Haycroft, Executive Chef
Solution RED – design and supply of centre pieces, florals and signage, Andrew Balnaves, Creative Director
Event Essentials – media wall and red carpet
Greenevent – plants
Musical Director, Chong Lim
Chong Lim Band
Choir conductor, Andrew Wailes
Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, Andrew K Wailes, Music Director
Australian National Academy of Music Orchestra, Nick Bailey, General Manager
Alana Scanlan Dancers
Choreographer, Alana Scanlan
Brazilian Drummers, PAN International
Pipers of Distinction
Tiani Page, sand artist
Ron Murray, didgeridoo player
MC, Hamish McLachlan
Bruce McAvaney, interviewer
Jemma Rix – Anthem, Heroes Live Forever
Bonnie Anderson & Cyrus Villanueva – Rio tribute
Rupert McCall – poet
Feature segment – Ross Wilson, Russell Morris, Jessica Mauboy, Jimmy Barnes, Dami Im, John Farnham
Vicki Jones, Andrew Hobbs
Video interviews by Trevor Connell with photography by Vicki Jones, Andrew Hobbs and Trevor Connell