Thursday, April 2, 2015

Rhianna Walcott // talks philanthropy and contemporary art with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia

MCA Young Ambassador Rhianna Walcott, photograph: Elena Chamberlain
In addition to her role as Artereal Gallery's Manager and Curator, Rhianna Walcott is a strong advocate for philanthropy within the arts. This month, she was interviewed by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, about her role as an MCA Young Ambassador Committee Member, the crucial role philanthropy plays in the arts, the artists on her wish-list and upcoming exhibitions and events in her diary. 

The MCA Young Ambassador Program  gives members a chance to not only provide vital support to the MCA, but also exclusive access to twice-monthly events, openings, curatorial talks and tours and visits around Sydney's visual arts scene. 

Read the full interview below or here

"As a long-standing supporter of the Young Ambassador program, can you tell us what motivated you to get involved?

For me personally, working in the arts, I feel passionately about supporting the industry as much as possible. So aside from the opportunity to meet new people and the appeal of the events themselves, the main motivation for me in joining the Young Ambassador program was the idea that it would allow me to give something meaningful back to the arts.

What has been your most memorable experience of the program?

It’s difficult to say! I have had some amazing experiences with the MCA Young Ambassadors over the last four years. Morning tea with Tracey Emin at Amanda Love’s house would be a definite highlight though. Also, the opportunity to hear Simon Mordant speak about his experiences as both an art collector and a philanthropist and Liz Ann Macgregor’s curatorial tour for Anish Kapoor’s exhibition and studio visits with amazing artists such as Alex Seton and Hayden Fowler were also highlights.

As a committee Member you’ve always been a strong advocate for the philanthropic aspects of the program – can you tell us why it is so important to you to support the MCA in this way?

As an arts institution the MCA has always been committed to working with and supporting the careers of Australian artists. By offering philanthropic support to the MCA, I feel that I am playing a small role in assisting the MCA to continue to nurture, grow and develop this legacy whilst also supporting the broader contemporary art scene within Australia. 

A common misconception amongst younger people is they assume supporting the arts is beyond their means. You don’t need to be amongst Australia’s wealthiest in order to contribute in a meaningful way. That is why I find it so exciting to be part of the MCA Young Ambassadors and to witness the ways in which the program has grown and supported the MCA. For example seeing the MCA Young Ambassadors fundraise for, and acquire a work by Hayden Fowler for the MCA’s permanent collection at MCA Social 2013, was something I was really proud to be a part of.

Have you any advice for other Young Ambassadors who want to widen their perspective on giving or ways they too can support the arts?

Aside from offering philanthropic support to institutions like the MCA, I think the best way you can support the arts is by actually collecting art. Working so closely with such a broad cross-section of contemporary artists, I have seen how much it means to them when they find out a work has been acquired by a collector – the encouragement, validation and recognition which it provides is so important – particularly for emerging artists.

Collecting art is also so much easier these days – whether you start by acquiring work from one of the grad shows or via an online art platform such as Ocula or through developing a relationship with a commercial art gallery – collecting is such an exciting and rewarding journey and something that can very quickly become addictive!

Being surrounded by fabulous art daily in Artereal must be very tempting – are there any artists on your collecting wish-list at moment?

I have to exercise a lot of self-restraint. I’ve recently acquired a work by Liam Benson (who has been at the top of my wish list for a very long time) – so next on the list would be a number of younger artists such as Louise Zhang, Tully Arnot and Michael Staniak. Also Juz Kitson and Rebecca Baumann - both Primavera alumni!

Looking ahead in 2015, what’s on your not-to-be-missed list in visual art and cultural activities in Sydney?

I am really looking forward to Sydney Contemporary and the satellite art fair Spring 1883 – both in September this year. I am also intrigued to see Jodie Whalen’s new performance based work which will be at Campbelltown Arts Centre later this year. I’m also really excited about Ry David Bradley’s upcoming exhibition at Artereal Gallery this November. And then there is Sydney Film Festival which is coming up in June!"

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