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After watching the impact the pandemic had on all facets of the arts, including the MSO, there has never been a better time to consider how your commitment to the arts and culture could be sustained long term. 

Every day people support causes and organisations they love through carefully thinking through their estate plans – and considering establishing philanthropic structures which can grow over time and provide an avenue for ongoing funding – it’s something we can do today or put in train for tomorrow. 

One of the most recent examples of a long-ago embedded legacy of giving included the provision of iPads for MSO musicians to eliminate the need for hardcopy scores during the pandemic. This funding was made available through The Alison Puzey Foundation as part of Equity Trustees Sector Capacity Building fund.

But many individuals have left a legacy with specific support for the arts – here’s a few examples of what that looks like today.

Ivy's wish to leave support for intending students
of The Conservatorium

Every year aspiring musicians apply to be accepting into the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne – and some of them are fortunate enough to receive some additional assistance thanks to the Ivy May Pendlebury Bursary, which was established in 1962. In June 2021, six bursaries (ranging in value from $1000 to $6000) were awarded on the recommendation of the Equity Trustees, which has managed the Bursary since it was appointed as trustee in 1985.

It was the founder’s instructions that the Bursary be awarded to intending students who ‘through no fault of their own are unable to attend because of insufficient means’ and that the trustee consult with the Conservatorium for advice on who should receive the support.

Pianos showcased in historic properties keeping
the music alive

Thanks to the Cicely and Colin Rigg Bequest (aka ‘The Rigg Bequest’), the triennial Rigg Design Prize is the highest accolade for contemporary design in Australia. But it is also responsible for the National Trust of Victoria becoming the hosts for Team of Pianists –exceptional pianists who perform at historic properties (and host an annual Piano Marathon for emerging talent). The Team perform solo and chamber recitals, concerto performances and more recently virtual performances through the COVID-19 lockdowns – but are looking forward to in person live audience recitals in August, September and October this year.

The turn of the century arts lover who backed the NGV… through to Short Black Opera

Australia’s National Indigenous opera Company has been providing enormously valuable training and performance opportunities for Indigenous musicians since 2009. 

Established by Yorta Yorta soprano, composer educator – and now MSO First Nations Creative Chair – Professor Deborah Cheetham AO, Short Black Opera was granted funding from the Felton Bequest (established in 1904 and managed by Equity Trustees) in 2020 to run their projects in Victoria, including support for the Dhungala Children’s Choir.

The Choir provides culturally appropriate training in choral music, theatre and song writing and leadership programs for children from Shepparton and Geelong in Victoria.

Alfred Felton’s Bequest became Australia’s first great philanthropic gift and it remains the most valuable bequest ever made to the arts in Australia. When it was established in 1904 with £380,000, the Felton Bequest provided the NGV with access to funds greater than those of London's National and Tate Galleries combined. Now valued at more than $55m and dividing income equally between the National Gallery of Victoria and charitable causes that support women and children, the Felton Bequest is one of Victoria’s largest and oldest philanthropic trusts.

Support for emerging artists sprung from science

In mid-2014, Joseph Sambrook and Mary-Jane Gething – who had both enjoyed distinguished careers in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology – established a private ancillary fund (PAF) managed by Equity Trustees. It is perhaps unsurprising, given their backgrounds, that the Gething-Sambrook Family Foundation was created to provide support in the areas of science (particularly focussing on gender equality) and education (focusing on supporting disadvantaged students)  – but what was a little less expected was the third area: The arts.

With the express aim of fostering young and emerging talent, it was in that first year that the Foundation supported its first scholarship – awarded to Jeremy Kleeman through the Melba Opera Trust. Jeremy, a bass baritone, went on to receive numerous awards, including as the 2019 recipient of the Australian International Opera Award, joining the prestigious Opera School at the Royal College of Music, London for the 2019/20 season. He continues to perform in Australia and the Foundation support was a modest but essential part of cementing the early career if this artist.

Everyone's legacy is different find out more

Find out more about how you can be a philanthropist with Equity Trustees.