Leo Schofield is a prominent figure in Australian public life.
Although always closely involved with major arts and cultural organisations, he never actually worked in this field until August 1993 when he was appointed Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts. The three subsequent Melbourne Festivals, planned and implemented under Mr. Schofield's direction, were outstanding artistic and commercial successes. They generated national and international media interest and exceptional community and corporate support.
Returning to his home city of Sydney, Mr. Schofield was appointed Director of the Sydney Festival, organising four highly successful annual festivals between 1998 and 2001. He was also the Artistic Director of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival and the Sydney 2000 Paralympics Arts Festival. Mr. Schofield has also served as Artistic Director of Sydney's renowned New Year's Eve celebrations for 2002, 2003 and in 2004 when this internationally acclaimed spectacle was honoured by the Australian Tourism Commission as the most outstanding special event of the year. His most recent success in the entertainment and cultural fields was in 2005 when he acted as Creative Director for the first-ever visit to Australia by the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This event drew a crowd of over one hundred and fifty thousand spectators over five sold-out performances.
Prior to organising and directing these landmark cultural events, Mr. Schofield spent twenty-five years in the advertising and communications industry, mostly in Australia but with stints in London and New York. He was Creative Director of several of the country's largest agencies before setting up his own communications consultancy.
During this time, Mr. Schofield developed a parallel career as journalist and broadcaster. For over a decade his weekly column in The Sydney Morning Herald was one of the most widely read in the country. This readership expanded even further with his appointment as a columnist with The Sunday Telegraph, Australia's biggest-selling newspaper. He now writes for a variety of ACP magazines. He is Editor-at-Large for Gourmet Traveller and travels widely writing on destinations and food for that magazine.
Mr. Schofield has been associated with numerous charitable, conservation and environmental causes. He has served on the Centennial Park Trust and on a number of NSW Government heritage advisory committees. A past member of the Executive of the National Trust of Australia (NSW), he was also Chairman of the Committee of Review - Commonwealth Owned Heritage Properties.
Over the years he has also worked with many arts organisations, often in a fund-raising capacity, serving for nine years as a Trustee of the Powerhouse Museum for Sydney and as a member for the Federal Government's Cultural Advisory Panel with input into the Creative Nation policy. He has been co-Chairman of the Dame Joan Hammond Foundation, a member of the Advisory Panel for the Victorian Government's Victoria Commissions initiative, and a Trustee of Melbourne's Old Treasury Building.
As journalist and broadcaster, Mr. Schofield accompanied the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on its 1988 Bicentennial Tour of the United States and a further link with the orchestra was forged in February 1996 when the SSO became an independent subsidiary of the ABC and Mr. Schofield was appointed inaugural Chairman of the Board. He retired from this position in May 2000, but retains strong links with the Orchestra.
Mr. Schofield spent seven years as Creative Director of Ovation, Australia's only dedicated arts channel on subscriber television, presenting their opera and music programs. He also hosted In Conversation with Leo Schofield, a new series of over one hundred interviews with leading Australian and international personalities in the performing and visual arts, including conductors Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Simone Young, theatre director Robert Lepage, violinist Nigel Kennedy, actor Geoffrey Rush, the late Luciano Pavarotti, the inimitable Andre Rieu and composers Tan Dun and Lalo Schriffin. In June 2009 he recorded interviews in London and Vienna with leading opera stars Rolando Villazon, Renée Fleming and Rene Pape and in Brussels with the popular entertainer Helmut Lotti.
In partnership with Ian McRae, the former General Manager of the Australian Ballet, Mr. Schofield continued his association with the performing arts by bringing to Australia for the very first time, the world-famous Paris Opera Ballet. Performing in Sydney in June 2007, the company attracted sold out houses and massive public and critical enthusiasm. Mr. Schofield was also Creative Director for the second visit to Australia of the famed Edinburgh Military Tattoo when it returned to Sydney in February 2010.
With Mr. McRae he co-presented the return visit of the Paris Opera Ballet to Brisbane for an exclusive season in 2009 and the first-ever visit of the National Ballet of Cuba in Australia. This company also performed exclusively in Brisbane.
Mr. Schofield and Mr. McRae have recently entered into an agreement with the Queensland Government and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to source and secure other international events for exclusive seasons in Brisbane.
Known as the QPAC International Series and dedicated to bringing the best of the world's performing arts companies to Brisbane for exclusive seasons, the series was inaugurated with the first ever visit to Australia of the three major state-funded companies from Hamburg.
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and one renowned for its cultural institutions. The exclusive Hamburg Season in Brisbane marked the first time in over thirty years that the Hamburg State Opera and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hamburg Ballet have appeared together in the same city.
Renowned Australian conductor Simone Young directed the orchestra and the opera and Brisbane-born conductor Simon Hewett led the Queensland Symphony Orchestra for the performances by the celebrated Hamburg Ballet.
In another Australian first and Brisbane exclusive, the artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier, regarded as one of the world's finest living choreographers, accompanied his troupe of dancers to Brisbane.
In June of 2000, Mr. Schofield was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Sydney and Melbourne Festivals, to conservation and heritage and to fundraising for the arts. In January 2001, Mr. Schofield was granted one of the French Government's most prestigious honours when he was created a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2009 was elevated to the rank of Officier. In October 2001, the University of New South Wales awarded him a doctorate of Arts and Letters, honoris causa. He is also a recipient of the Federal Government's Centenary Medal.
Mr. Schofield continues to consult to business and the arts. His hobbies are reading, listening to music, and gardening and his best-selling book, The Garden at Bronte, a record of his restoration of the garden at historic Bronte House in Sydney, was published by Penguin / Viking in 2002. In August 2004 it was awarded the Horticultural Media Association's Golden Laurel for the most outstanding gardening book published in Australia in 2004. In early 2005, he was appointed to the board of Trustees of the Sydney Opera House and in 2008 he was invited to join the Board of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.
In February 2005, Mr. Schofield acquired Dysart House at Kempton in Tasmania. He is currently restoring this important historic building and currently divides his time between Tasmania and Brisbane. He is also working on a memoir and a book on Tasmania and now contributes an additional weekly column on life there to the Saturday edition of The Mercury.
Both Mr. Schofield and Mr. McRae are committed to continuing their association with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre over the next three years.