Blacktown Arts Centre renamed to honour Leo Kelly OAM

Published on 06 December 2017

plaque unveiling Kelly family Mayor Bali.jpg

The award-winning Blacktown Arts Centre was re-named The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre on Saturday, 2 December 2017.

The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre commemorates former Mayor Leo Kelly OAM’s decades of commitment to creating one of Sydney’s best local artistic showpieces.

Leo’s wife, Janet, helped unveil the new name and said that the entire Kelly family was honoured that Leo Kelly was to be commemorated in this way.

“Leo didn’t like a lot of fuss.  He had a word for it: “stuffwittery”; and I know he would now be demanding: “What’s all this stuffwittery about?”

“We are deeply honoured that his legacy will continue through the great love of his public life: the promotion, betterment and encouragement of the Arts,” Mrs Kelly said.

Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali MP said the unwavering commitment of the late Councillor and former Mayor Leo Kelly OAM to the arts in Blacktown has been properly recognised.

“Leo’s contribution to the Arts in Blacktown changed the way the faculty was presented in western Sydney and his initiatives and decisions leave us with a continuing legacy,” Mayor Bali said.

“He was a fierce advocate for artists and played an instrumental role in establishing Blacktown Arts Centre.

“At the time, his opponents in Council wanted to create a carpark instead.  There is no doubt that what is now The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre has done more for Western Sydney than a local carpark ever would have achieved.”

Former Blacktown councillor and federal member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland, also paid tribute.

“Leo Kelly OAM was a passionate supporter of the arts, and an especially ardent supporter of the arts in Western Sydney,” she said.

“He was passionate about showcasing Australian art in Western Sydney and promoting Western Sydney artists across Australia.


“He was instrumental in founding the Blacktown Arts Centre and it is a fitting tribute to his legacy that the centre be renamed in his honour.”

The renaming ceremony took place at the opening of the 2017 Blacktown City Art Prize, which Leo Kelly initiated 22 years ago.

Councillor Kelly had the foresight to recognise that the people of Blacktown – and Western Sydney – deserved a centre of excellence for the Arts,” said Jenny Bisset, Manager Arts & Cultural Development, Blacktown City Council.

“It was his whole-hearted commitment, and advocacy that led to the establishment of Blacktown Arts Centre in 2002.

“Councillor Kelly was always respectful of artists and the artistic process, and firmly believed in the central role that the arts plays to engage and empower communities.”

Councillor Kelly was elected to Blacktown City Council in 1980 and served continuously until his passing in January 2017.

He was Mayor on three occasions from 1985 to 1987, 1990 to 1991 and 2004 to 2008.

In 2003, Councillor Kelly was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his more than 20 years of service to local government and Blacktown City.


Blacktown Arts is a recognised leader in the development of contemporary arts in Australia. We support artistic innovation and offer exciting, new experiences for audiences through an award-winning curated program of exhibitions, performances, workshops, residencies and events. We are committed to making dynamic, culturally diverse work that reflects Blacktown, its history and its communities. We place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and communities at the heart of our program to develop new work drawing on issues of local and global significance. This is how we make art.


Media Contact:

Communications Unit, Blacktown City Council
Angela Ranke – 9839 6564
Alan Gale – 9389 6409  
(phones divert to mobiles after hours)