Dinner in support of Queensland Arts Philanthropists
Graeme and I welcome you all most warmly to Fernberg this evening and I begin, as always, by acknowledging the First Australians who once cared for the land where Government House now stands, and their continuing cultures and traditions.
Tonight, we are celebrating custodians of a different kind – the Queenslanders who, through their generous philanthropy, have enabled the Arts ecosystem in our State to survive and thrive, despite three years of cancelled events, closed venues and crowd restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those impacts have threatened the very survival of artists and arts organisations everywhere and have been compounded by the effect on supporters of arts and culture. The result has been a significant decline not only in donations but in volunteering and in-kind support.
In Australia, this impact has been particularly severe for smaller organisations. Research in 2020 by Creative Partnerships Australia showed that, across the country, arts organisations with an annual turnover of less than $50,000 experienced a decline of 41 per cent in private sector support.
It has been truly devastating, but, in a classic example of the adage that ‘it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’, there is actually a positive side to this story.
The COVID years have taught organisations and their Boards that, if they are to raise private sector support, they need dedicated, well-resourced staff with fundraising skills and knowledge, as well as the confidence to engage directly with potential donors.
They have also learnt that Boards need to do more than just discuss and approve fundraising strategies; they need to actively promote effective giving and participate in making direct, personal approaches.
I referred earlier to the Arts ‘ecosystem’. It’s a term that I prefer to ‘industry’ because, it is a living, interdependent system that needs careful and appropriate nurture.
Like all ecosystems, with that care, the Arts will rebound and fundraising activities will return – indeed this is already happening. In Queensland, this is thanks in no small part to the exceptional donors here tonight who are such committed custodians of that ecosystem.
As the Patron, or Joint Patron with Graeme, for many Queensland Arts organisations, I am delighted that you have been able to join us so that we can acknowledge that contribution and thank you, personally, on behalf of all Queenslanders, for the support you have given – and continue to give.