the Melbourne Prize


The Melbourne Prize was set up by Simon Warrender in 2004 and I first wrote this post in 2010.  Each year the prize celebrates a highly distinguished person in a different field of the arts, such as literature, sculpture, and music.  In 2017 the theme is Urban Sculpture.

In 2010 Artshub had a good interview with Simon on the background of the prize and what motivated him to set it up. (but most of it is available for Artshub members only).  You can read a bit more background from Simon in the Australian Musician (2016).

Although the Melbourne Prize Trust which administers the program has tax deductible (dgr) status, it would appear that most of the support is corporate, judging by the logos on their patrons and supporters page.  I would love to know the breakdown between donations and sponsorships.  I have a feeling that sponsorships are actually more attractive to corporate supporters for their visibility in doing good citizenship and aligning themselves with an event and celebration which is growing in prestige.

Although many people say that tax deductibility is motivator for philanthropic support I believe that it can assist but is never the main reason people choose to part with their hard earned dosh.

While I think the Melbourne Prize is a good thing – anything that supports our artists and creative people with recognition and money to enable them to continue their work is – sometimes I wonder if high end awards only trot out the usual suspects.

Looking at the last few winners – for Literature in 2006 – Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas, for Music in 2007 – Paul Grabowsky and Genevieve Lacey and for Literature in 2009, Nam Le.    I don’t want to be overly controversial – but don’t we have a larger pool of writers and musicians than this?  I can’t begin to speak on urban sculpture because that is an area I really know nothing about – but it saddens me to think that a prize of this stature may be a little conservative in whom it is considering.  Disclaimer: I haven’t read the nomination requirements and what it takes to qualify.

Let me know what you think about this – perhaps we should hold our own alternative poll to their People’s Choice awards and add our own nominees.

About ozphilanthropy

#Philanthropy. #arts Posts by Sharon Nathani, PhD candidate at the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne focussing on philanthropic funders of the arts. Sharon's study is supported through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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