Jack Neary AM, OBE, Mary Lopez AM and Bruce Harris were the founders and inspirational driving force behind the formation of the Talent Development Project.
Jack pioneered bringing international talent to Australia including Harry Secombe, the von Trappe family, Cliff Richard, Petula Clark, Bob Crosby and the Bobcats, Jack Benny and old-time screen hero and great singer, Nelson Eddy. It was, however, his signing of The Beatles for an Australian tour a year before they became famous, that earned his place as a premier figure in the Australian entertainment industry.
The 1970’s Jack developed a major new Sydney venue as a replacement for the Rushcutters Bay Stadium. The result of his hard work was The Sydney Entertainment Centre.
In 1983, before the venue officially opened, the Centre invited an audience of 8,000 government school children to test the Centre’s acoustics in a huge choral and instrumental concert. The talent impressed Jack so much that he was inspired to create an event, with professional production and direction, to showcase the talent of children in NSW public schools. With Bruce Harris as Executive Producer and Mary Lopez as Producer and Director, the annual Schools Spectacular, raised its curtain for the first time in October 1984 to thunderous applause.
It was because of the amazing success of the Schools Spectacular that Jack and Mary developed the idea of the TDP; a program their combined contacts from the world of show business would share their experience with the headline acts from the Schools Spectacular.
Again, with Bruce Harris and Mary Lopez by his side, Jack’s vision for this extraordinary project was realised in 1991. Almost 30 years later, the Talent Development Project now operates out of Waterloo Studios, and is recognised as the most successful youth training and development program in the music and entertainment industry in Australia. To say the world is the TDP graduates stage would be an understatement. TDP graduates have made their mark hosting TV shows, starring in Broadway productions, international opera’s, releasing award winning albums,playing for sold out audiences and writing smash hit songs for Hollywood movies.
Mary created and developed the TDP unique training program. Using her combined educational and entertainment experience she drew up the TDP syllabus. It remains basically true it’s original procedures, topics and holistic approach, but always moves with the times by reacting to current industry trends.
Sadly, Jack passed away in 2000. His huge legacy lives on in the greatly enriched lives and careers of countless wonderfully talented young Australians. Mary retired at the end of 2017, but is still a member of the TDP Board.