The Balnaves Foundation pledges $420,000 to arts reporting project with Guardian Australia


Elika Roohi


The Balnaves Foundation has announced an AUD$420,000 (USD$302,000) grant over three years to the Guardian Civic Journalism Trust, which will allow Guardian Australia to commence an in-depth arts reporting project and educational outcomes for University of Melbourne students for more than three years.

‘The Balnaves Foundation have a strong commitment to the arts industry in Australia and agree with Guardian Australia that the diverse arts industry vitally needs in-depth analysis more than ever before,’ said Head of Partnerships & Philanthropy at Guardian Australia Susie Bayes.

Guardian Australia’s arts desk has always been committed to covering, critiquing and celebrating the arts in Australia, including publishing award winning work.

The new grant will fund a dedicated series, Australian arts in focus, and will allow further investigations into the issues affecting these industries, in particular the impact of COVID-19. The grant will also allow Guardian Australia to hire a dedicated arts reporter and expand its freelance contributor base.

‘Whilst it’s still early days, it’s very encouraging to see increased philanthropic support for public interest journalism in Australia. Developments over the last couple of years have been very positive, with initiatives such as The Balnaves Foundation support for The Guardian and the establishment of the Judith Neilson Institute,’ said Krystian Seibert, Industry Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology.

‘I expect that there will be more growth in this area in the years to come,’ he continued. ‘And it’s also significant that philanthropy is supporting research and advocacy work on the future of public interest journalism more broadly in Australia, through funding of the Public Interest Journalism Initiative.’

Media funding by The Balnaves Foundation

This is the second project of its kind from The Balnaves Foundation. In 2018, the Foundation funded a two-year grant to the Guardian Civic Journalism Trust to launch an Indigenous affairs reporting and educational project. Investigations from the project have now won two Walkley Awards, a prestigious recognition for Australian journalists.

‘We are proud to have supported the Guardian’s independent Indigenous reporting for the last two years and have witnessed the impact their important journalism can have’, said Hamish Balnaves, Chief Executive of The Balnaves Foundation. ‘We know that investigative journalism allows important stories to be told and debated and our diverse arts industry vitally needs this in-depth analysis more than ever before.’

Guardian Australia Editor, Lenore Taylor said: ‘The Balnaves Foundation has enabled us to conduct editorially independent investigations on Indigenous issues that have been widely recognised for their excellence. We look forward to a similar outcome from the new arts reporting project.’

According to Guardian Australia, all reporting will be editorially independent and will clearly identify the support provided by The Balnaves Foundation.

Guardian staffing cuts

Facing a projected loss of £25 million in revenue as the effects of the coronavirus hit the media industry, the Guardian announced recently that it planned to cut up to 180 jobs across advertising, Guardian Jobs, marketing roles, Guardian Live events, and editorial.

According to Bayes, the announcement of staffing cuts was based on the global position of the Guardian, and so far, the Australian arm of the media organisation has ‘performed comparatively well.’

Nonetheless, Guardian Australia is ‘certainly not immune to the impact of the global budget shortfall’ Bayes said. But so far, ‘the restructure has impacted our commercial structure only and no editorial roles are now at risk.’

The funding for the arts reporting project was agreed before the recent staffing cuts announcements, and according to Bayes, it remains a crucial priority for Australia.

The Balnaves Foundation

The Balnaves Foundation was founded by Neil Balnaves AO in 2006. It funds organisations in education, medicine and the arts, as well as young people, the disadvantaged, and Indigenous Australians.

For more on this topic, see Alliance magazine’s December 2017 special feature on philanthropy and the media.

Elika Roohi is the Digital Editor at Alliance magazine.

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