THERE are nine members that make up the SAM Foundation board, with each of them having their own rhyme and reason to wanting to see the new SAM built for the local community. The Adviser caught up with committee member, great nephew of Sir Andrew Fairley and Sir Andrew Fairley Foundation chair, Andrew Fairley AM for the second of a nine part series where we hear from those who perhaps have the deepest connection with the project.
Andrew said, “The original Shepparton gallery was established with a grant from SPC in 1936 when Sir Andrew Fairley was the chairman and CEO of SPC. He clearly took the view at that time that culture and the capacity of the community to appreciate that culture created an important part of building a stronger community and stronger society. He was a great supporter of the gallery and collection in his lifetime.
“When he died, he left his money to create the Sir Andrew Fairley Foundation, which has given many grants for SAM’s construction, extension and the purchasing of many additional works, including one of John Perceval’s angels. So with that background it was pretty logical for the Fairley Foundation and me to want to be involved in the SAM Foundation and assist in raising money.
“Shepparton as a community has been challenged in a number of ways on an economic and social level. I am a big believer, as was Sir Andrew, in fostering a sense of outreach to bring communities together.
“The Sir Andrew Fairley Foundation turned 50 in 2015, and we were looking for a grant opportunity to celebrate the event and so we offered up a $500,000 grant towards the building of SAM.
“Shepparton holds a very dear place in my heart. I am an avid supporter of building strength and resilience into the Shepparton community and this is a fantastic way to do it.
“When you are trying to bring people together, you need a series of initiatives and places to do it. Arts and culture are an effective medium to do that. Particularly with Aboriginal people, who have a strong appreciation for arts and culture. We need to ensure we have a place to build respect for their culture and the new SAM is the perfect place for us to do that.
“Another benefit to Shepparton is what I refer to as the ‘Mona effect.’ We have the opportunity to create something so iconic that people will come to Shepparton to appreciate it and identify Shepparton with an outstanding tourism experience. This will enhance visitor opportunities for the city, which is enormously important.
“The new SAM is such a good news story for Shepparton and it predicates the view that Shepparton’s time is really coming.”