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The world’s a stage for latest Lake Mac Freeman of the City

Mercia Buck at Warners Bay Theatre, which she helped establish

The arts have always been there for Mercia Buck OAM, and Mercia Buck has always been there for the arts.


The woman instrumental in establishing Warners Bay Theatre, founding Opera Hunter and organising countless arts performances across the Hunter Region over the past 40 years was recognised on Tuesday night with a Lake Macquarie Freeman of the City award.

Ms Buck, who served as a Lake Macquarie Councillor from 1991 to 2008, is the ninth person in the city’s history to receive the accolade.

She is only the second woman in a list of recipients dating back to 1985, and the first since former Lady Mayoress Ellen Kilpatrick and Don Caldwell, the city’s first Town Planner, were added in 2008.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser, who presented the award at a ceremony at the Multi-Arts Pavilion, mima, on Tuesday evening, said Ms Buck’s contribution to the city’s arts was without peer.

“Creative arts in our region are so much richer thanks to Mercia’s tireless dedication, but her devotion to our community extends far beyond that,” Cr Fraser said.

“She led the way as a strong female voice in local government at a time when it was a very male-dominated arena. I am among many people who have always looked to her for inspiration.”

Other achievements cited during Tuesday night’s presentation included Ms Buck’s founding of the Lake Macquarie Music Society and Lake Macquarie Eisteddfod, and her long role as a teacher, lecturer and arts administrator.

Ms Buck said the award was “absolutely overwhelming”.

“It’s a tribute not just to me, but to all the people who have responded to all of the initiatives we’ve taken in trying to develop the industry,” she said.

“You can’t do anything on your own – you’re relying on all the people who share the same passion.”

Despite more than four decades of hard work supporting the arts, Ms Buck shows no signs of letting up.

“The arts – music or acting or whatever – they’re just in your blood. It’s the reason for breathing, it’s the reason for getting up in the morning,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter what happens in life – all the hard things and all the tragedies – you’ve always got this thing that you love to come back to.”


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