Fashion has been in the Dowd family for three generations, their having had an association with brands such as Hickory, Maggie T, the Clothing Company, and as major suppliers of corporate apparel over many years. From speaking to Carl and Wendy Dowd it is obvious they have built their success on thorough research, treating customers with respect and understanding, providing excellent customer service and by appreciating their staff and building terrific teams.
It is therefore no surprise as MTC donors that they have chosen to be supporters of Costume and Design. They take an interest in all the costuming, understanding the difficulty of doing it well and the research and skill required. Wendy said she can’t remember being disappointed by the costumes she has seen onstage.
Carl and Wendy haven’t always been regular theatregoers, their business commitments in the clothing industry once limited their free time. They first planned their subscription as a way of catching up with their children and enjoying a meal and a show together. As their children’s lives have gathered pace, had children of their own or moved overseas, Carl and Wendy found the theatre is also a great place to catch up with friends.
‘The good thing about MTC is that it has got us going on a regular basis and understanding and enjoying, being part of it. And a lot of our friends go. We tend to see some people only there,’ Carl explains.
Their tastes often vary, with Wendy having a passion for Shakespeare, which Carl admits isn’t his piece of cake. They do agree, Wendy says, on the benefit of buying the whole season. ‘What I like is a point of difference, not too much in the one box. Because it makes you think. It’s good to be pushed a bit – otherwise it’s pointless, even though we go to enjoy it.’
They often find that the ‘gems’ are things they might not have chosen initially. While Carl prefers the more humorous pieces he, ‘enjoys to be tested a bit’. He also appreciates themes that are topical and have resonance for his own life, like one of his favourites The Other Place.
Wendy and Carl are generous philanthropists in other areas, leading to the setting up of a family foundation. ‘We felt we have been fortunate in life and if you are lucky you should spread your luck,’ Carl says. They are particularly keen to focus on giving a leg up to talented young people. ‘[The Dowd Foundation] is mainly directed at younger Australians who have got potential and could do a lot more. People who we think could go a bit further.’
The Foundation has allowed each member of the family to bring their particular skills, strengths and interests to play across a range of activities in the arts, medicine and education.
MTC has appreciated the support of the Dowd Foundation for over ten years.