It’s hard to believe it’s already May. This month we welcome our latest group of grantees, whose applications were approved by the Board at the Foundation’s first Board meeting for 2018. It is a relatively small group of grantees this round as we reach the end of a period of reduced program area funding. Over the past two years, the Foundation has successfully managed the dual challenge of significant pre-existing multi-year commitments combined with the introduction in April 2016 of our Major Grants funding stream. This necessitated more stringent management of reduced program area budgets for a time, a situation that will change as we move into the 2019 fiscal year.
I recently reported to the Board that based on the current value of the Foundation’s corpus and taking into account approximately $52 million of forward commitments the Foundation’s five-year available funding estimate approximates $77 million. Of this total, program area budgets should receive at least two-thirds of this over the coming five years, despite the very significant amount ($43m) of existing Major Grant commitments.
Most satisfying for me when reviewing our latest group of grantees is the high quality arts organisations the Board chose to support. Despite having to temporarily manage a reduced program area budget, the Arts Committee, assisted by Louise Arkles (Arts Program Manager) and Dr Squirrel Main (Research Evaluation Manager), embraced the opportunity to consider the evidence of our past five years of Arts funding and implemented some focused and innovative funding guidelines. The result is six outstanding and diverse arts organisations are being supported with multi-year capacity building grants.
Earlier this year, I was fortunate to attend my 3rd National Questacon Invention Convention. The convention is just one part of Questacon’s Smart Skills Initiative which the Foundation supported in 2015 with a five-year, $7.8 million grant. Yet again, I was extremely impressed by the innovation and lateral thinking demonstrated by an eager group of 14-18 year old school students. This year’s convention participants focused on problem solving around the theme ‘Future Earth’. I was truly impressed by the ingenuity and creativity displayed by such a young group of students, who tackled a weighty topic with a mixture of creativity, flair and enthusiasm.
It is testament to the success of Questacon’s Smart Skills Initiative that on the last day of the Convention, delegates were able to present their prototype inventions to the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honorable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d). To see the faces of three 2017 Convention participants, who had returned as mentors to the 2018 Convention delegates, when they unexpectedly received the Governor-General’s medal was a gratifying experience. The Foundation regards the Questacon Smart Skills Initiative as a truly exemplar grant, successfully working to develop young students creative thinking and encouraging them to engage in studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Finally, I’d like to introduce a new staff member, Subhadra Mistry, our new program officer who will be supporting the program management team in the Education and Arts program areas as well as supporting The Ian Potter Cultural Trust. Please join me in welcoming Subhadra to The Ian Potter Foundation team.
Image: His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia was delighted to meet the 2018 National Questacon Invention Convention delegates seen here with Professor Graham Durant, Director of Questacon (far left) and Craig Connelly, CEO of The Ian Potter Foundation (far right).