Finding the best creative partnerships

The Creative Partnerships Awards are looking for exemplary marriages between the cultural, philanthropic and business sectors.
Finding the best creative partnerships

Junction Arts Festival. Confetti by Big One Little One. Photo: Tom L. Griffiths.

Private support for the arts has almost doubled in the past decade, increasing 98% to $221m in Australia. This support accounts for approximately 10% of all arts funding in Australia.

The Creative Partnerships Awards are a key way to celebrate what is going right in these relationships and to help others emulate the success.

This year arts and cultural organisations, businesses, artists and those working in the philanthropic sector have the opportunity to nominate exemplary individuals who support and champion the arts.


Fiona Menzies, CEO of Creative Partnerships Australia said the awards not only celebrate the good that is being done but also contribute to a cultural shift that values giving.

Find out more about the 2017 Creative Partnerships Awards

‘We know that by [celebrating] we encourage other people to do the same thing. So when people see someone be recognised, it is inspiring and might even give them ideas for things they haven’t done before.

‘It also gives philanthropy a level of prestige that other people might want to follow.’

Rewarding leaders

The awards were reintroduced this year after a short break and now have a new focus: leadership.  There are awards for Arts Leadership, Business Leadership, Emerging Philanthropy Leadership and Philanthropy Leadership.

‘What we’ve done is focus on leadership because it’s the idea that these people are not only being effective philanthropists themselves, but they are encouraging other people to do the same thing,’ said Menzies.

2017 is the first time the broader arts and cultural sector, as well as those working in the business and philanthropic sectors, can nominate. ‘We want to open the nominations up to everyone. We don’t know everything that everyone is doing so we want people to help us identify people who are doing really good things in their area.’

Peter Wilson, Chair of Playwriting Australia and member of Belvoir Theatre Company’s board, was awarded the Emerging Philanthropy Leadership Award in 2016. Menzies said he was an example of the two-way value that creative partnerships provide. 

Know someone who gives? Nominate them here.

‘A lot of philanthropists say that they get more out of it than the people who are receiving their support. Peter is one of those. He says that he gets as much as the organisations do because he really enjoys having that engagement with the organisations, the staff, and the artists,’ said Menzies.

‘His own philanthropy is very thoughtful, particularly because he takes the lead from the arts organisation. He engages with them and finds out what they need, and is then able to direct his assistance in that way. And I think he is quite personally engaged with the organisations that he supports.’

Creative Partnerships Award winners on supporting the arts from Creative Partnerships Australia on Vimeo.

What makes a partnership work long-term?

Menzies said a good partnership is one where there are benefits to both parties. ‘The way to achieve that is through ongoing conversation,’ she said.

‘All the people we speak to where there is a longstanding partnership joke and say it is “like marriage”. It is about that constant communication and readjusting.’

‘A lot of the long-term partnerships I know have been tweaked year on year. And I think that is just through really trying to understand each other and communicating.

‘One of the things I always say to people in arts organisations, and I would say the same to supporters too, is communication is as much about listening as it is talking. And if you listen and therefore understand what the other party wants out of it, you are more likely to have a partnership that will become long-term.’

‘My tip would be that it takes time. Be patient, but also put the effort in to building a relationship over time,’ said Menzies.

To find out more about the Creative Partnerships Awards or to nominate someone who has made an exceptional contribution to your sector through advocacy and leadership, visit

Brooke Boland

Tuesday 8 November, 2016

About the author

Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW.