Celebrating the philanthropists who keep the arts in Australia alive


The precarious actuality of Australia’s arts ecology is a key driver of personal giving, in accordance with philanthropist Maureen Wheeler AO.

‘For those who become involved with the humanities on any degree, you quickly realise simply how tenuous the entire enterprise could be. It’s perhaps from one efficiency to the subsequent, or it could be one season to the subsequent or one grant to the subsequent. However none of it’s one thing you can be completely sure will proceed to be out there, if there aren’t folks ready to place cash into it,’ stated Wheeler.


Collectively along with her husband Tony Wheeler AO, the Wheelers have performed a pivotal function in arts philanthropy in Melbourne over a few years, spearheading the creation of the Wheeler Centre in addition to supporting Opera Australia to convey The Ring Cycle to Melbourne.

They’ve additionally supported the likes of Melbourne Theatre Firm, Melbourne Pageant, Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Fringe and Purple Sew Actor’s Theatre.

This week, the Wheelers’ devoted assist of the humanities sector was recognised via the presentation of the Philanthropy Management Award, one in all a collection of honours offered by Artistic Partnerships Australia as a part of the 2020 Artistic Partnerships Awards.

Different recipients included WA’s Alexandra Burt, patron of personal giving on the West Australian Ballet and winner of the Rising Philanthropist Award; S. Baillieu Myer AC and Sarah Myer, who along with Woman Primrose Potter AC have been collectively offered with the Arts Visionary Award; and Telstra’s Andy Penn, the recipient of the Enterprise Management Award.

The Arts Management Award was offered to Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield AO, the Co-Creative Administrators of Adelaide Pageant.

Healy stated she was ‘satisfied,’ to obtain the award. ‘It was fully sudden, completely out of the blue,’ she informed ArtsHub.


The significance of personal giving in Australia was acknowledged by the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Security and the Arts, who stated: ‘The Artistic Partnerships Australia Awards are an vital alternative to recognise the generosity, advocacy and management of philanthropists who champion arts in Australia … On behalf of the Morrison Authorities, I want to prolong my gratitude and congratulations to all of the Award recipients.’

Artistic Partnerships Australia’s CEO, Fiona Menzies, stated that the Awards recognise recipients who assist develop the humanities for everybody.

‘Yearly it’s humbling to see what number of passionate supporters of the humanities there are, and this yr is not any exception,’ stated Menzies.

‘This yr’s Award recipients all have a deep understanding of how arts and tradition are an integral a part of folks’s lives and their contributions are each about supporting excellence and making certain that each one Australians can entry and benefit from the arts. In every case, they aren’t solely beneficiant supporters themselves, however are champions for the humanities and encourage others to affix them,’ she added.


For Healy, the Artistic Partnerships Awards play a key function in encouraging further philanthropy via their recognition of the significance of personal giving – giving that may begin with a modest donation with the potential to develop over time.

‘I don’t assume there’s as nice an consciousness, maybe, of the breadth of giving on this nation. And it may be a tiny reward that’s steadily given yearly which will – and in lots of, many circumstances has – led to a bequest on the finish of life,’ stated Healy.

Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy, Adelaide Pageant’s Co-Creative Administrators and the recipients of the 2020 Arts Management Award. Photograph credit score: Shane Reid.

The significance of small, common donations can’t be understated, she continued. ‘It’s a validation of what that firm and people artists are creating. And I feel that there’s a type of, “we consider in you” facet to giving that’s as vital if you obtain a $20 donation as it’s if you obtain one thing a lot bigger.

‘Somebody is saying, “I hear what you’re attempting to do, and it resonates with me, and I need to assist.” It has an unimaginable energy to it that’s very affirming and really shifting,’ Healy stated.

The worth of standard giving was additionally careworn by Maureen Wheeler, who famous: ‘It’s the continued giving, the continuity of it, much more than the quantity of it that basically makes a distinction … Supporting one thing that you simply love is vital, but it surely’s additionally vital that it’s steady.’


In line with Wheeler, philanthropy is ‘pushed by ardour, undoubtedly,’ however she stated the top performs simply as nice a job as the center in figuring out the place to present and which corporations to assist.

‘An organisation I like very a lot is Purple Sew; I feel they do nice work. And after I first began going to them, I wished to assist them to maintain doing what they do. However I feel your head is available in when, in some unspecified time in the future you assume, “is that this going to final? Alone, I can’t preserve this factor going, so are there sufficient individuals who additionally find it irresistible?” And so your coronary heart takes you there, however then your head type of says, “Nicely, after a few years, if it’s not working, what when?”

‘However with one thing like Purple Sew that’s gone on and on, persistently turning out nice work, you then assume “Yeah, that is undoubtedly one thing that I’m comfortable to be concerned with on a larger degree,”’ Wheeler stated.


The long-term assist of philanthropic donors can prolong nicely past their monetary assist of your inventive imaginative and prescient, Healy famous.

‘Actually good relationships are a lot greater than that. As a result of your donors usually are not simply keen about what you do: they turn out to be your ambassadors, they offer you suggestions, they usually supply their very own networks. It’s this actually rewarding relationship that in some circumstances has gone over a long time,’ she stated.

Within the Wheelers’ case, their philanthropy started way back, through the a few years they ran the journey publishing home, Lonely Planet.

‘We now have been concerned in philanthropy for a protracted, very long time, via the Lonely Planet Basis, which was arrange for tasks in creating nations – and that was about clear water or hospitals for youngsters. And the explanation you do issues like that, I feel, is since you see that actual want and also you’re in a position to do one thing about it,’ Maureen Wheeler defined.

The Austraklian Ballet’s David McAllister, co-winner of the Arts Visionary Award Woman Primrose Potter AC, and Minister for the Arts the Hon Paul Fletcher. Photograph credit score: Rob Blackburn.

‘The humanities for me is a little bit bit totally different,’ she continued, referencing latest feedback made by fellow Artistic Partnerships Award recipient Woman Potter (who stated ‘For those who don’t assist what you such as you gained’t have it… that’s all the time been my mantra.’)

‘I feel Woman Potter put it very nicely. For those who care about one thing, you then take care of it, you set cash into it, you do no matter it takes to maintain it going. As a result of should you don’t, it is probably not there [in the future],’ Wheeler stated.

‘I feel that by conserving issues going, attempting to guarantee that the opera and theatre and dance – no matter it’s that you simply’re keen about – should you might help to assist it, you then’re serving to to perpetuate it, and alongside the way in which, maybe you’re convincing different folks of how a lot the humanities contribute to our lives,’ she concluded.

Be taught extra concerning the recipients of the 2020 Creative Partnerships Awards.


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