The Community Foundation in Wales was delighted to honour philanthropists, both resident in Wales and from further afield, who, through their giving, have had a huge impact in the fields of arts education and the life chances of young people. The Philanthropy Reception, a highlight of Philanthropy Week 2015, demonstrated the breadth of philanthropic activity that supports and inspires some truly remarkable Welsh institutions.
Set in the stunning Davies Sisters Galleries, at the National Museum of Wales, the reception paid homage to a hugely important family of Welsh philanthropists. The granddaughters of Welsh industrialist David Davies, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies grew up in a wealthy, Calvinist household, and, from a very early age, felt impelled to make good use of their inheritance.
Passionate about the arts, the Davies sisters also recognised the vital role they could play in ensuring that the public was able to benefit and learn from their private collection. Their bestowed gift, comprising some masterly European works, has been open to the public for decades meaning that their philanthropy lives on, and its effects enrich the lives of Wales’ residents and visitors on a daily basis.
This desire to give something back to the community in which people live and work was expressed by April McMahon, Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, who recounted that students of the University often opt to start financially supporting their Alma Mater whilst studying. The habit of small, regular, initial gifts can build into the provision of excellent facilities for the benefit of future generations.
Modern day examples of gifts which keep on giving were recognised and celebrated on the evening. David Seligman, one of Wales’ eminent lawyers, alongside his late wife, Philippa, have given back to Wales in a number of ways, donating money, time and energy to the Welsh National Opera, the Wales Millennium Centre, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Theatr Sherman Cymru and the University of South Wales. David’s son Paul accepted the award on his behalf, and recalled how his parents gave much of their free time in the evenings to help these and other organisations. Paul Seligman ended his reflection on giving by saying that he hoped “that by accepting this award on behalf of my Mum and Dad, it will inspire more people to share their own time, treasure and talent with their communities.”
The Foundation was also delighted to recognise Ian Stoutzker, a major arts philanthropist with a passion for British art, and founder of Live Music Now in 1977. In 2011 Ian donated £500,000 to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in a personal tribute to his mother Dora, a music teacher from Tredegar, in Blaenau Gwent.
In a show of the global impact of Welsh philanthropy, Aberystwyth University Alumnus Peter Hancock has given back to his University in gratitude for the scholarship he was awarded 50 years ago. Peter and his partner and fellow alumna Patricia Pollard chose to endow their alma mater with £506,000 to create a major new scholarship fund. This sustainable, long-term source of funding will award scholarships to “deserving, meritorious, in-need Year 2 Honours students or equivalent in any discipline and of any nationality and who show potential to benefit society through the successful completion of their Honours Degrees or equivalent.”
As well as giving to already established organisations, to help them grow and benefit more people, philanthropy can also stimulate innovative ways of giving back to communities. Rachel Clacher, founder of the Moneypenny Foundation, shared stories of the philanthropic impact brought about by the charitable arm of leading telephone answering company Moneypenny. The Foundation successfully implemented a pilot scheme, from which five unemployed young women with a history of homelessness and criminal activity ‘graduated’, with the help of mentors and work placements, to attain full-time, meaningful employment. The Moneypenny Foundation’s work within Wrehxam, helping young unemployed people make the move “from being prisoners of circumstance to pilots of their own lives” has already made a huge difference, and will continue to grow ambitiously in the future.
The Foundation was delighted to honour this remarkable range of philanthropists united by their desire to make a difference in Wales. Each different story demonstrates the value of philanthropic giving, both to the numerous beneficiaries, and to the philanthropist themselves. Hilary Boulding, Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, collected an award on behalf of Ian Stoutzker, and suggested that the thrill for many philanthropists is that they “get back much more than they put in”.