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Philanthropists changing the face of Australia recognised in top awards


23 July 2019 at 8:29 am
Maggie Coggan
Art dealer and philanthropist Phillip Bacon AM has taken home this year’s top Australian Philanthropy Award for his contributions to the arts. 


Maggie Coggan | 23 July 2019 at 8:29 am


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Philanthropists changing the face of Australia recognised in top awards
23 July 2019 at 8:29 am

Art dealer and philanthropist Phillip Bacon AM has taken home this year’s top Australian Philanthropy Award for his contributions to the arts. 

Bacon, a director at Opera Australia, was acknowledged for lending considerable support to developing local works by Opera Australia such as The Eternity Man and Whitely, supporting the careers of emerging Australian artists, and helping to preserve and promote Australia’s art history. 

He was among a number of recipients recognised for their contribution at the annual awards night, hosted at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Monday. 

He said he felt privileged to be a part of helping others achieve often life-changing work. 

“We all give, or enable others to give so that the great work of our artists and performers, our researchers and doctors, our teachers and scientists can continue,” Bacon said.

“For me, the arts are at the centre of my world. I believe utterly in their importance and know how bereft we would all be if art stopped being made, music wasn’t heard, plays weren’t performed, little girls stopped being taken to the ballet by their grandmothers, and the Sydney Opera House became a museum because opera could no longer be afforded.”       

He told Pro Bono News he hoped the profile he gained by winning would alert people’s attention to the importance of funding the arts. 

“Government funding for all those sorts of things is declining, and they all have to start looking for other sources of income so they can keep doing what they do, and I think that’s important,” he said. 

Bacon added that recognising the efforts of the philanthropic community was vital to build momentum and demonstrate the importance of their work.  

“If [philanthropy is not acknowledged], everything is under the radar. I think we used to be a lot quieter, but that’s changing…and it’s good it is,” he said.  

Awards were presented across seven categories: Leading Philanthropist, Best Large Grant, Best Small Grant, Environmental Philanthropy Award, Gender Wise Philanthropy Award, Indigenous Philanthropy Award, and the International Philanthropy Award.

Australian Philanthropy Awards chair, Jenny Wheatley, said this year’s awards attracted a record number of nominations. 

“These nominations reflect philanthropy’s increasing impact and visibility,” Wheatley said.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all recipients. I hope you encourage others to contribute to an innovative, influential and high performing philanthropic sector.”

See below for the full list of winners:

  • Best Large Grant: Dusseldorp Forum, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, and Maranguka Backbone Community Organisation, Bourke for Maranguka’s Justice Reinvestment Strategy.
  • Best Small Grant: Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Barcoo Way Committee for the Barcoo Way project.
  • Environmental Philanthropy Award: Melliodora Fund (and six other sub funds of the Australian Communities Foundation, plus 10 other funders since 2014) for The Change Agency Community Organising Fellowship.
  • Gender Wise Philanthropy Award: Atlassian Foundation International for Room to Read Australia.
  • Indigenous Philanthropy Award: Klein Family Foundation and Karrkad Kanjdji Trust for the Warddeken Daluk Ranger Program.
  • International Philanthropy Award: Eve Kantor and Mark Wootton, the Kantor Family through the Poola and Dara Foundations for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Australia.

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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