12.11.2020Working Together: Melbourne Prize Trust

1/ How does your organisation contribute to the wellbeing of society?

Melbourne and Victoria have built up a reputation as the arts and cultural capital of Australia. This strategy was developed during a major economic downturn in the early 90s. It is well-known that a vibrant arts and cultural sectors plays an important role in the wellbeing of a community and contributes to a dynamic creative sector.

Recognising this in the early 2000’s, the annual Melbourne Prize was founded by Simon Warrender to provide opportunities to writers, musicians and sculptors to recognise and reward artistic excellence and talent, inspire creative development and importantly enrich public life.

By actively supporting these three arts sectors, the annual Melbourne Prize provides significant opportunities for local artists to be recognised amongst their peers, in the arts sector and in the public domain. In turn, the public can further enjoy the abundant talent we have in Victoria. The Civic Choice Award directly engages the public also on the prize program.

The annual Melbourne Prize demonstrates the importance of recognising and rewarding artistic excellence, which sends out a positive message to the community. The strong support received from cross-sector partnerships reinforces the notion that arts and culture are valued in our community.

Melbourne and Victoria is a community that is engaged with the arts at all levels and the annual Melbourne Prize, being named after the city, reinforces the importance of the creative sector and its role in the community and its wellbeing.


2/ Prior to COVID-19, did your organisation collaborate with a NFP / private organisation to deliver a positive social outcome? How did you collaborate and what did you achieve together?

The annual Melbourne Prize is supported by a broad range of cross-sector partnerships, both from the commercial and NFP sectors.

The program is primarily supported through grant funding from government, private patrons and NFP charitable organisations such as philanthropic organisations. Many of these organisations have a primary goal of supporting the development of arts organisations, with the understanding that the arts play an important role in a healthy community.

The collaboration between the annual Melbourne Prize and NFP sector was undertaken in several ways before COVID-19. There are a number of NFP philanthropic organisations that support the prize program each year, which is the main type of collaboration in which the annual Melbourne Prize is involved. Other examples include the NFP arts organisations in the literary, music and sculpture sectors that assist the annual Melbourne Prize by promoting it throughout their respective sectors. Combined, these initiatives are a core part of the annual Melbourne Prize operations and enable it to be offered each year.

Cross-sector partnerships with the NFP sector, such as those undertaken with the annual Melbourne Prize, are important to sustain the operations of many organisations that provide positive benefits to the community. The NFP sector understands and, in many cases, has as their primary objective the goal of collaborating to provide social benefit – the annual Melbourne Prize is an outstanding example of this success.

  • Through private and public sector support, the annual Melbourne Prize objectives are to recognise and reward excellence and talent, inspire creative development and enrich public life.
  • The NFP partnerships which support the annual Melbourne Prize are practical examples of how collaboration can provide a positive social benefit in the arts and cultural sector.
  • The NFP sector understands the operations of small arts organisations and are ideal partnerships to fulfil their community investment objectives.
  • The support of the Federal Government in providing tax-deductible status to the annual Melbourne Prize empowers the program to sustain itself and provide positive social outcomes in the arts.
  • As an NFP, the annual Melbourne Prize has successfully been collaborating to achieve its objectives since its inception in 2005. This model underpins the sustainability of the organisation.
  • The annual Melbourne Prize seeks to promote the objectives of the private and public sector partners with whom it collaborates.

3/ Have you and your partner organisation increased collaborative efforts in the wake of COVID-19? What measures have you taken? Please describe.

The annual Melbourne Prize has maintained a strong level of collaboration following the COVID-19 pandemic. The organisations and individuals that support the program have been more willing to assist with funding, goods and services that have assisted in running the annual Melbourne Prize this year.

Being in the arts sectors, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, the NFP sector, in particular the philanthropic charitable organisations, have understood the challenges this environment has placed on the arts. The measures undertaken to provide support in all forms, including funding, goods and services, have provided a lifeline to many organisations in the sector.

The annual Melbourne Prize has increased its effort to collaborate with the NFP sector during this time. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been an increased need to bring together arts organisations to discuss the current and future issues facing the sector, and arrive at measure that will allow the sector to emerge from the crisis and return to sustainable operations.

The Committee for Melbourne’s NFP Taskforce and Arts & Cultural Taskforce are excellent examples of how collaboration involving NFPs can have tangible community-benefit outcomes in times such these. The annual Melbourne Prize is privileged to have been invited to participate in both.

The Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2020 changed its focus this year as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. To relieve the financial burden on entrants to make a work for public exhibition, the main prize is awarded this year for a body of work. The support of the many partners and patrons made it possible for the program to continue in this challenging environment – an example of goodwill and collaboration.

4/ Why will Melbourne be a better city if more NFP and private organisations collaborate in the post-pandemic period

The need for community assistance will be amplified in a post-COVID environment. The knowledge the NFP sector has of where this need exists and how it can be satisfied will be even more critical in these times and can contribute significantly to collaborations with private organisations where the common objective is to see positive community investment and outcomes.

Collaboration between private organisations and the NFP sector can deliver outcomes that can leverage financial and other support measures in a post-COVID environment.

A city that recognises the critical role the NFP sector plays, at all level of society, is better placed to take advantage of and collaborate with these organisations that can channel assistance directly to where it is needed. In a post-COVID environment, a holistic and non-fragmented approach to providing community assistance will be central in ensuring effective and efficient outcomes.

For more information on the annual Melbourne Prize please contact Simon Warrender at shwarrender@melbourneprizetrust.org – please visit www.melbourneprize.org

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