Vale Richard Pratt
30 April 2009 at 3:55 pm
It is with great sadness that the Not for Profit and Corporate sector mourns the passing of one of Australia’s great philanthropists Richard Pratt.
Known in Victoria as the cardboard king, Richard Pratt’s Visy Packaging Company was a regular in the business news. However his philanthropic efforts, both personally and under the umbrella of the Pratt Foundation are legendary in the Not for Profit Sector.
Billionaire Pratt, a former Polish immigrant has died from advanced prostate cancer, aged 74. His wife Jeanne Pratt is also known for her incredible philanthropy in the arts sector.
Victorian Premier John Brumby hailed the Pratt Foundation saying it had had poured tens of millions of dollars into projects all over Australia.
The Premier says Pratt is a great story of a migrant who made good and built up a huge business and in the process helped build a stronger community as well.
The Pratt Foundation was established in 1978 by Richard and Jeanne Pratt with the shared vision of supporting charitable enterprises and adding value to philanthropy. The Foundation is now one of the largest private sources of philanthropy in Australia.
The Pratt’s daughter Heloise Waislitz, the Chair of The Pratt Foundation says involvement in philanthropy brings great responsibilities. But it is also a great privilege to be involved in activities which are aimed at enriching the communities in which we live.
The Pratt Foundation has shifted from being predominately re-active to submissions to being predominately pro-active in its choice of projects.
Richard Pratt also gave time and money and used his influence with Australia’s business leaders to win corporate sponsorship for the arts.
Terry Campbell AO, Chairman of the Australia Business Arts Foundation, AbaF, says Mr Pratt provided leadership and opened doors of senior business people to establish AbaF.
AbaF has generated direct private sector support for the arts worth close to $25 million.
Campbell says more importantly, AbaF has contributed to a shift in thinking among leaders of corporate Australia. There is a greater understanding of the mutual benefits to be gained through business-arts relationships.
Jane Haley, AbaF’s CEO, paid tribute to Richard Pratt’s contribution saying one of this would have happened without Richard driving the foundation to take up the challenge of increasing private sector support for the arts.
Pratt was AbaF’s founder, first chairman and remained its patron until his death. AbaF grew out of the Australia Foundation for Culture and Humanities, which Mr Pratt believed should take a lead role in promoting private sector support for the arts.
In line with his philosophy that ‘the best managers look for ways to make things happen’, Mr Pratt chaired the organisation, donated $3 million and brought together a highly influential cross section of cultural and business leaders to shape the foundation’s direction.
He changed the foundation’s emphasis from promoting corporate philanthropy to promoting corporate sponsorship. This gave rise to the foundation’s business case approach, partnerships between business and the arts, in which both parties brought assets to the table and exchanged benefits.
In August 2000, 50 business leaders attended the inaugural national councillors’ forum when the Prime Minister launched the new Australia Business Arts Foundation.
Since then, a steady flow of leaders have joined the AbaF council to advocate for private sector support for the arts.