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Surprise $500,000 gift for the arts

Media release
Embargoed until 5.30pm Monday, 29 November 2010

Surprise $500,000 gift for the arts

Sir Eion Edgar, a well known philanthropist for sport, health and public facilities announced that his family is donating $500,000 to the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. His surprise announcement was made on the occasion of the Foundation’s AGM and Sir Eion’s retirement as a Founding Trustee.

Sir Eion said “I believe the arts are a vital and integral part of our society. I also believe strongly in the vision of the Arts Foundation, which is to encourage private patronage for the arts and to celebrate and support our hard working artists”.

Chairman of the Arts Foundation, Ros Burdon, who is also retiring from the Foundation, was overwhelmed by the donation. “It is the most significant donation received by the Foundation since its inception ten years ago,” she said. “We are hugely grateful to the Edgar family for making this commitment. It demonstrates confidence in the Arts Foundation, its mission and its people”.

The Arts Foundation is entering its second decade. It has established prestigious awards for artists and an endowment fund of $6 million. The Edgar family donation will be invested in the endowment fund as a donation of $100,000 a year for five years. The use of income generated from this donation is under consideration by the Arts Foundation and an announcement will be made about it in 2011.

The Foundation celebrates New Zealand artists across all disciplines. Its most prestigious Award is the Icon Award, which is an honorary award limited to 20 outstanding recipients. It also produces the Laureate Awards for established artists. Five are awarded $50,000 each annually, and the biennial New Generation Awards, which support five early career artists at $25,000 each. The New Generation Awards are a partnership with Freemasons New Zealand and will be announced on December 13 this year. Other projects such as a residency, award for arts patrons and an award for photography are also managed by the Foundation.

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The Arts Foundation is a specialist in private giving to the arts. It works in partnership with donors to construct programmes to support the arts and is developing new tools to grow philanthropic support. It also accepts legacies for the arts and currently has $15 million promised to it.

Chairman elect, Fran Ricketts, praised the Edgar family for their bold commitment to the arts and said it comes at a perfect time. “For the arts to reach its potential in New Zealand we need support from the private sector. For this to be effective it must come from leaders like Eion and Jan Edgar so that we can encourage participation from many people at other levels. We are very grateful to the Edgar family for this leadership donation and hope it inspires others to give to the arts”.

The Edgar family donation will benefit from the 2008 lifting of the rebate cap on charitable donations. 100% of the Edgar family donation is now deductible resulting in a potential rebate of $165,000. “The lifting of the rebate cap certainly makes it easier to give,” said Sir Eion. “I hope others will take advantage of this and consider donating to the arts, or increasing their donations,” he added.

For more information on the Arts Foundation, donating to the arts and the artists celebrated by the Foundation go to:


About Sir Eion Edgar:

Sir Eion Edgar KNZM, CNZM (Queenstown) is a high-profile businessman and has been a committed Trustee since the inception of the Arts Foundation as well as a Founding Patron. Sir Eion has helped unite the business sector to the Foundation, contributing his advice on sponsorship and patronage. He is a former: Chancellor of the University of Otago, Chairman of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, Director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and President of the New Zealand Olympic Committee. With a major interest in sport, Sir Eion is currently, lead donor to Dunedin’s Edgar Centre, Trustee of the Halberg Trust and Chairman of the Winter Games New Zealand Trust. He is Chairman of national investment advisor company Forsyth Barr (who was Principal Sponsor of the Arts Foundation for seven years and who sponsor the Laureate Awards).

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