Back Your Own Horse

NAVA strongly supports ambitious philanthropy that encourages artists to share in that ambition – extending it further than its friends, supporters and funders could possibly have imagined. 

Philanthropy is the deep and abiding generosity towards all people. Its Greek meaning is the love for humanity. While patronage, sponsorship or investment tend to have specific aims and outcomes in mind, philanthropy is a graciousness, an open gesture. 

Melbourne's long history of Myer, Gandel, Besen and other family philanthropy enriches not only the arts but all social spheres. As part of that family tradition, we recognise that the Ian Potter Foundation deliberates carefully over their interpretation of the late Sir Ian's values. Angelica Mesiti's The Calling, and Daniel Crooks' Phantom Ride, have each been the beneficiaries of the $100,000 Ian Potter Moving Image Commissions, presented by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) as the only Ian Potter Foundation area of arts philanthropy that is not judged by the trustees themselves. Their choice to withdraw visible but not financial support for soda_jerk's TERROR NULLIUS has been met with concern and alarm all over Australia. 

At last night's NAVA talk Who's Afraid of Australian Artists? with Simon Hunt, Sara Saleh and Alex Seton at Verge Gallery as part of Art Month Sydney, we discussed the work of each of the artists as well as the timely news of TERROR NULLIUS - particularly given Simon's presence, as he'd been an advisor on the project and was the only one among us who'd seen it. We were interested in the responses to the Foundation's withdrawal, especially those talking about censorship. While the Foundation's response has called far more attention to TERROR NULLIUS than a simple launch would've achieved, the consequences for artists and for other philanthropists may not be so simple. 

Creative ambition ignites our minds and changes our world. Artists whose work is made and shown through philanthropic support expect to enter into a relationship of mutual generosity and trust. To have someone on their side, no matter what. To back their own horse. 

NAVA encourages artists to keep engaging with the Ian Potter Foundation, keep applying for their grants, and keep offering their trustees a diverse view of contemporary arts today. 

On the work itself, I very much look forward to seeing TERROR NULLIUS, and will have more to say after visiting ACMI this weekend.