All the Queen's Men
Images by Bryony Jackson

Give it up for Margaret – A Festival of Arts Philanthropy

Melbourne (Kulin Nations)

Born on 2nd May 1914, Margaret Lawrence was a woman with diverse skills and talents. She was the reigning queen of the TV show Quizmaster, she amassed one of Australia’s most extensive collections of Australian studio ceramics, and she was an avid Carlton Football Club fan.


Give it up for Margaret: A month of philanthropic inspiration was a chance to celebrate Margaret Lawrence’s life and acknowledge her great philanthropic efforts.

Partnering with The Victorian College of the Arts, the Margaret Lawrence Bequest and over 20 subsidiary organisations, All The Queens Men directed and produced this diverse festival which included exhibitions, public forums, in-camera discussions and keynote presentations by international leaders and specialists. In celebration of Margaret Lawrence’s own philanthropic efforts, Give it up for Margaret aimed to inspire broader discourse and encourage further arts philanthropy.

Give it up for Margaret was a month-long festival of events that had two broad aims: firstly, to celebrate the life of Margaret Lawrence and, secondly, to open up a discussion around innovative philanthropy, particularly as it pertains to the art sector.

Festival archive can be viewed HERE.

The Margaret Lawrence Bequest, one of Australia’s first Prescribed Private Funds, was set up a few years before Margaret Lawrence’s death in 2004. It continues to support many projects for the advancement of women, education and the arts.


Celebrating Margaret

Margaret Lawrence was a private person and consequently many people – including beneficiaries of her trust – have not heard of her. One of the objectives of the festival was to increase Margaret Lawrence’s profile in Australian public life. The centenary of her birth in 2014 offered a perfect occasion to celebrate her life and her great philanthropic efforts.

Outcomes of the festival dedicated to this aim included:

  • publishing about Margaret’s life and work, including this web archive;
  • The Margaret Lawrence Oration at Myer’s Mural Hall, an evening featuring performances by beneficiaries of Margaret’s philanthropy and a keynote by Barry Jones – Margaret’s great rival in the Quizmaster stakes (sadly, they never got to have a show-down).
  • Margaret at the movies, a presentation of movies on Federation Square’s Big Screen made by beneficiaries of Margaret’s philanthropy.

In line with Margaret’s great love of the form, the festival also had an exciting focus on ceramics:

  • key works from Margaret’s collection were exhibited in Terra firma: The inquisitive collector at Chapter House Lane gallery;
  • the work of contemporary ceramic artists was explored in Assembly: Contemporary ceramics at the Victorian College of the Arts’ Margaret Lawrence Gallery;
  • the festival celebrated the 2014 Shepparton Art Museum’s Indigenous Ceramic Art Award;
  • the National Gallery of Victoria hosted the panel Free form or fine form exploring different practices in contemporary ceramics; and
  • the festival provided a catalyst for conservation work on Margaret Lawrence’s collection of studio ceramics, held by the Victorian College of the Arts.

Inspiring innovative philanthropy

Rather than place the focus solely on Margaret and her bequest, the festival also aimed to open up a public discussion around arts philanthropy with the aim of inspiring more giving – whether that gift be $5 or $5-million. Events throughout the festival surveyed the past, present and desired future of arts philanthropy, placing particular focus on innovations in the field.

Outcomes against this aim included:

Creative Team

Festival Director: Tristan Meecham

Festival Curator: Phip Murray

Festival Producer: Bec Reid

Thanks: Frankie Airey, Caitriona Fay Alex Furman, Jaclyn Birtchnell, Megan Dench , Alison Leach, Steven Wyld, Vikki McInnes, Scott Miles, Michelle Irving, Liz Gillies, Dr Jody Evans, Alexandra Gartmann 

Collaborators: Aphids Events Inc, Chapter House Lane, Creative Partnerships Australia, Federation Square, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund, Melbourne Business School – AP Social Impact Leadership Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Next Wave Festival Inc, Perpetual, Reichstein Foundation, Shepparton Art Gallery, Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company, St Martin’s Youth Leadership Centre, The Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Wheeler Centre, Wellsprings for Women

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