Historic donation shows joy of giving

In the long list of cultural gifts to the nation, the $100 million donation from Lindsay and Paula Fox for the NGV Contemporary project stands as a new benchmark, and is the latest instance of the family’s philanthropy, which has covered the arts, housing, education, and medical research.

Photo details: Daytime render of winning concept design for The Fox: NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, and public green space, facing south. Render by Darcstudio.

Mr Fox AC and his family have a long-standing relationship with National Gallery of Victoria, contributing to the acquisitions of significant art and design works during recent decades. At its heart, this landmark donation reveals trucking magnate Lindsay Fox’s deep connection to the city and state he calls home.

“You look at the family, all of my children, and of my grandchildren, all of their children and their children’s children, will benefit throughout their lives here in Victoria,’’ Mr Fox said after this week’s announcement.

“It’s a contribution to a community that has given me so much in life.’’ 

The donation from the Fox family is understood to be the largest cultural gift for a capital program ever made to the Australian art museum by a living donor. Paula Fox AO is a director on the NGV Foundation Board, and the new facility will be named The Fox: NGV Contemporary.

Philanthropy Australia CEO Jack Heath described the donation as “…underlining the power of giving to make a defining contribution to how we live and experience the world around us.’’

“This donation is not just a commitment to a new cultural precinct but also an expression of the joy the Fox family feel in giving. As Lindsay Fox said: ‘You never go broke by giving.’,’’ Mr Heath said.

“It’s a reminder of the inspiration at the heart of such generosity and shows yet again philanthropy’s capacity to leave a legacy for generations of Australia,’’ he said.

Portrait of Katrina Fox, David Fox, Danny Pearson MP, Minister for Creative Industries, Janet Whiting AM, President of the Council of Trustees, NGV, Lisa Fox AC, Lindsay Fox AC, PaulaFox AO, Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV at the NGV Contemporaryfunding announcement at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Eugene Hylan.

The donation builds on the initial $20 million commitment to the project from the Ian Potter Foundation, which Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson described as the “…cornerstone of philanthropic support for the new NGV Contemporary and encouraging further philanthropic support for the project.’’

The NGV Contemporary is part of a larger $1.7 billion Victorian Government investment in redeveloping the Melbourne arts precinct. The new contemporary gallery will be in Southbank Boulevard and exhibit not only contemporary art and design from around the globe but also provide educational spaces, studios, and laboratories for art conservation.

Mr Heath said: “The Fox donation also affirms the goals at the centre of Philanthropy Australia’s blueprint to double structured giving by 2030

“Our approach highlights the opportunities to supercharge giving through a collaboration between philanthropy, not-for-profit, business and government in the years ahead.

“The NGV Contemporary is the kind of collaborative project that brings those stakeholders together for compelling community benefit,’’ he said.

Historically, there have been several large donations to Australian cultural institutions, the most well-known and enduring is the Felton Bequest at the National Gallery of Victoria, established in the name of colonial businessman Alfred Felton.

That bequest – under the management of Equity Trustees – has supported the purchase of art works valued at around $2.3 billion, according to the Felton Bequest 2021 annual report.

In November, 2019, the Art Gallery of South Australia announced a $38 million bequest from long-time philanthropists James and Diana Ramsay.

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