‘Philanthropy is not just money’ – Hannah Rothschild

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A retired estate agent who helped a music academy find a new home – and then gave the organisation £37,500 to help them buy it – has won the individual Achates Philanthropy Prize.

Nick Thomlinson was the head of Knight Frank until he retired, and a friend who is also a trustee of World Heart Beat Music Academy in South West London, which gives grassroots music education programmes to children from all backgrounds, suggested he help the academy negotiate a new home in Nine Elms. “I’d never thought of doing anything like this before, but once I met the team I rather got drawn in” he said at the awards events last night at Rich Mix. “We’ve managed to get their building against a lot of competition and raised the £2m needed”.


Main image by James Allan shows  Nick Thomlinson, centre, with Sal Goldsmith and Sahana Gero of World Heart Beat Music Academy.

Above: Hannah Rothschild

The award was presented by Hannah Rothschild, the writer, film-maker and member of the banking family who stood down this year as the first female chair of the National Gallery trustees. A dedicated arts philanthropist herself, she said that money was not enough in a philanthropic act, particularly in dark times for public funding. “Anyone can be a philanthropist: it isn’t only giving money - it’s about contributing your time, skills and passion” she said. “Success is often based on partnerships, and all of the nominees celebrated tonight represent the exciting outcomes of people, groups and companies working together. They range in size and complexity, but they are all inspirational. 

“This generosity has never been more important: in times of darkness, philanthropists are in the business of giving light”.

The Achates Philanthropy Prizes are awarded for first time donors to arts projects, one for a corporate philanthropist and the other for an individual. The prizes are the initiative of the Achates Philanthropy Foundation which was created in 2016 to support innovation in the cultural sector and the development of models enabling organisational resilience. Each winning organisation receives £5,000.

Winner of the corporate prize was Candoco Dance, the professional company the combines non-disabled and disabled dancers, and the sports clothing manufacturers ASOS. Together they have created the Candoco Dance Company Training Intensive, a two week residential course for 15 disabled and non-disabled dancers aged 18 to 30, involving both cash support and the provision of sports clothing. “Through this partnership we have been able to reach a wider and more diverse audience in Candoco’s work and connect with 15 incredible young artists” said Jo Royce, Candoco’s executive director.

The nature and standard of philanthropy is changing, said the prize’s founder Caroline McCormick.  “Culture belongs to and is the responsibility of us all. If a gift of money is one of the manifestations of a successful relationship, then the Achates Philanthropy Prize is a barometer of how well arts organisations are working with their audiences” she said. 

“2019 is the fourth year of the prize, and I can genuinely say that the ground is shifting. We saw a 65% increase in nominations this year - covering every art form, organisational scale and geographical region - but most importantly we saw the highest quality of nominations to date. So to those of you who won tonight as well as all of those who were shortlisted – congratulations and thank you - you are exemplars to the sector and are building a campaign for real change in the arts.” 

Also shortlisted for the individual philanthropy award were: Oxford-based Arts & Health South West; Lighthouse in Poole, Dorset; The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham; and the Young Vic in London. For the corporate prize, the runners up were: Contact, Yorkshire; English National Opera, London; Hay Festival Foundation in Breconshire; and HOME, Manchester.  

This year Achates has introduced a new bursary scheme in which a team of Achates specialist “ambassadors” give five UK arts organisations masterclasses in developing their fundraising. The first five are Hackney Shed, Northern Ireland Opera, Square Chapel Arts Centre, Streatham Space and Writing West Midlands.

The awards are sponsored by Achates Philanthropy Ltd, BOP Consulting and Spektrix.




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