Over almost 140 years of the Royal South Street Society Ballarat Eisteddfod (South Street, the Comps or South Street Competitions as it has been known), few people have worked as tirelessly and affected outcomes as much as Dr Anthony (Tony) Cole & Ronald (Ron) Harrington OAM and their wives Barbara Cole and Dawn Harrington, who have always been the constant back bone and supporters of Tony and Ron’s work.

Dr Tony Cole is a passionate supporter of the arts in the city and a Life Member of the Royal South Street Society.

A passionate fan of electronics, his daughters’ participation in ballet and competition led to his initial involvement at Royal South Street Society. His first experience was to offer the use of a better sound system to the RSSS Dance Competition, as the one they were using was ‘rather awful’, Dr Cole says.

Tony Cole went on to become the Chair of his greatest passion, the Dance discipline, for 30 years, and under his watch it grew into the largest dance competition in Victoria. It would be impossible to imagine the countless hours both Tony and his wife Barbara have contributed to the Society, and they continue to provide trophies for the ballet sections, as they have done for many years.

Throughout his time, Tony designed and built a mechanism to raise and lower the rear curtain at Her Majesty’s Theatre, and his passion for technical equipment construction and maintenance is extraordinary. His work recording the performances of both the Ballarat Lyric Theatre and the Ballarat Light Opera Company on tape and video – indeed his work recording performances across Victoria – has resulted in him possessing a significant collection of theatre, musical theatre, ballet and dance.

Tony was presented with the Denis Bateman Award by the Ballarat Arts Foundation for his work and dedication to the creative life of the city in 2017.

Tony has been:

  • President of the RSSS in 1989, 1990, 1997 and 1998,
  • Chair of the Dance Committee for 30 years
  • Awarded Life Membership in 1999
  • Founding member and Chair of the Association of Eisteddfod Societies of Australia (AESA) in 1993,

Tony stood down from the Board at the 2018 AGM after 35 years of service to Royal South Street Society and has continued to volunteer his time to the Eisteddfod ever since!

In 2024, we sincerely thank Dr Anthony Cole for 40 years of service to the Royal South Street Society (2023 AGM).

Tony Cole

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