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Art & money



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The worlds of art and finance often make for uncomfortable bedfellows. Throughout history, artists from every discipline have depended on the financial support of the state and from private patrons, in the form of philanthropic donations. Can art survive without philanthropy, and should it? If an artistic individual or organisation is to benefit from an injection of funds from without, must they become beholden to the whims and beliefs of their benefactor, particularly if the funding comes from corporate sponsorship whose ideals may not match that of the arts organisation?

In this edition of the Art & us series, Rebecca Coates, curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, is joined by Philanthropy Australia CEO Louise Walsh, Australia Council and Creative Partnerships Australia board member Rupert Myer, and Clemenger BBDO Chief Executive Peter Biggs.

As they look back over the history of patronage and scrutinise the ethics behind artistic philanthropy, they look at whether it’s possible for the worlds of money and art to co-exist without the interests of one seeping into the other. Or is there a method for financially supporting the arts without compromise?

This event is part of Give it up for Margaret: A month of philanthropic inspiration. More details visit please

Art & us

The nature and meaning of art has been hotly debated for centuries, but in this new series for 2014, the Wheeler Centre explores the impact of art in a variety of contexts. We look at how artistic practice fits in to the many diverse aspects of everyday life, as well as how its context has a direct effect on the realms of inspiration and creation.


Simon Abrahams

Simon Abrahams is a strategic arts and cultural leader, dynamic programmer and experienced producer whose work has been recognised nationally and internationally. He is Chair of Theatre Network Victoria, and a freelance arts consultant and performer. Previously, Simon served as the Wheeler Centre’... Read more

Louise Walsh

Louise Walsh brings extensive corporate, government, not for profit and philanthropic leadership experience to her role as CEO of Philanthropy Australia. A former corporate lawyer with Allens Arthur Robinson, Louise worked on Sydney’s Olympic Bid, and corporate partnerships for the 2000 Olympic Ga... Read more

Rebecca Coates

Rebecca Coates is an independent curator and writer, and associate curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. She lectures in Art History and Art Curatorship at the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. In 2013 she was awarded a PhD in Art History from the Univers... Read more

Rupert Myer

Rupert Myer is the chair of the Australia Council for the Arts. He serves as a member of the Felton Bequests’ Committee and as a board member of Jawun – Indigenous Corporate Partnerships, Creative Partnerships Australia, The Myer Foundation, The Australian International Cultural Foundation and T... Read more

Peter Biggs

Peter Biggs CNZM is Chief Executive of Assignment Group. He was formerly the Chief Executive of Clemenger BBDO/Melbourne, one of the top five agencies in the world (The GUNN Report 2014), Campaign Brief’s Australian Agency of the Year for a record five years in a row and Asia Pacific’s Most Effe... Read more


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