Philanthropic funder networks in the arts . . . .


image: Tony Fankhauser

Hello ozphilanthropy readers,

It’s been a while since I have posted here, because I have been taking a very long study break, to do a PhD by Practice at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne.

I have been looking at the topic of institutional philanthropic funders – that is, trusts and foundations as opposed to individual donors – and the arts sector. In particular, whether the development of networks amongst foundations leads to a form of influence or “curation” of the arts.

As I am just about midway through the research, having completed more than 30 interviews online during Melbourne’s lockdowns, I recently presented draft findings for ANZTRS, Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research and was subsequently invited by Philanthropy Australia to write a short piece on where my work is up to.

You can read that here

I look forward to your comments, and to giving you more updates on what conclusions I uncover.

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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2 Responses to Philanthropic funder networks in the arts . . . .

  1. Alexandra Williamson says:

    Great to see the blog back – and to read about your research. The concept of ‘curation’ is fascinating, and to my mind a much better description of what foundations and philanthropic funders may do than ‘framing’.

    • Thanks Alex,
      yes – it’s a very nuanced and subtle form of “curation”. For example, no funder is going to come out and say – unless you put on Swan Lake I don’t want to support you.

      But imagine if a theatre company might have been thinking about doing one of two plays, one of which was an adaptation of Grenville’s Secret River – and an institutional philanthropic funder with whom they have a good relationship says – Oh, I loved that book, it resonated so strongly with us and my experience of coming to Australia as a migrant – so if you were going to do an adaptation of that, we could certainly find some way to support it. Obviously the theatre company will do the play which is more likely to receive the financial support.

      or – a major art gallery might have had a change in artistic director, and the previous one was very big on building up the European collection and Old Masters – it’s quite possible that the previous supporters may not be quite so interested in the new direction which has an emphasis on contemporary Australian artists – and so the gallery might risk losing them. It seems that inevitably the gallery will find a way to bring new donors and philanthropic funders who find an alignment with contemporary art which aligns with the foundations’ goals of supporting new work and local artists.

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