Beyond the transactional: Awards honouring leadership for the arts

The Creative Partnership Australia Awards celebrates nine recipients who bring together business, philanthropy and the arts.

‘It’s a two way-conversation – an engaged partnership and more than just about raising funding for the arts. The kind of relationship that moves beyond the transactional and into something more meaningful, rich and extended over time,’ said CEO Fiona Menzies about the recipients of the Creative Partnership Awards.

She continued: ‘All these awards are really aimed at identifying people who are showing leadership because there are obviously a lot of people who give generously and what the awards are not about is who’s given the most money.’

It’s really about people who encourage others to do what they’re doing. So they use their own giving, I guess, as leadership to encourage and inspire others to follow suit.

Fioina Menzies, CEO Creative Partnerships Australia

‘We have the Emerging Philanthropy Leadership Award, the Philanthropy Leadership Award and the Business Leadership Award. The Arts Leadership Award is a little bit different because it’s really about somebody who works in the sector, and how they’ve embraced working with these partnerships with donors and businesses, to support their own vision,’ Menzies told ArtsHub.

‘But again, it’s about someone who has been able to make that case for support to prospective donors and not just about obtaining donors in the first place, but maintaining them as well and really building that culture of support for their organisation. And building a sort of community of supporters.’

As well as the four core awards, Menzies points out that there is another prize, which was only introduced a few years ago called the Arts Visionary awards.

‘We look for people who’ve made a significant contribution over a period of time but sort of done something new and different. This year it’s going to Ulrike Klein, which is a really good thing for South Australia and for classical music, which is Ulrike’s field of interest.’

As for the other awards recipients, the Philanthropy Leadership Award was won by the Neilson Foundation (Kerr, Paris and Beau Neilson). Collectively, the family ‘has done so much for Sydney’s performance arts, in particular the expansion of Griffin theatre’ continued Menzies. 

Paul Taylor (who is also jointly honoured with the Philanthropy Leadership award) is ‘one of those people who really listens to the organisations he advocates for and draws in others as well to the cause’ while John Albrecht, the recipient of the Business Leadership Award, ‘elevates artists with intellectual disability to a professional realm with Arts Project Australia’. 

Other recipients include Helen and Melissa Macfarlane, who took out the Emerging Philanthropy Leadership Award. They have set up a fund to help artists with a program of residencies, exhibitions, commissions. Barbara Moore is the winner of the Arts Leadership Award. She’s presently the CEO of the Biennale of Sydney but started out as an enthusiastic fundraiser for the Biennale.

Menzies is buoyed by the experience of being at the helm of Creative Partnerships for nine years: ‘Every year, we get a really amazing array of people nominated to the awards, and I know when you’re in the midst of fundraising, it always feels like hard work. But it’s also good when we do this reflection annually and see just how many people there are out there doing amazing things, partnering with the arts, and donating to the arts, so it’s one of my favourite parts of the year.’ 

Find out more about the Creative Partnership Awards

Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on