New Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale given green light following excellent public and private support

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by anonymous on Friday 19 April 2013.

New Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale given green light following excellent public and private support image

Minister for the Arts, The Hon Tony Burke MP has announced that public and private support for the new Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has exceeded $6 million after he confirmed the Australian Government will contribute $1 million through the Australia Council towards this landmark project.

At a special reception hosted by the Australia Council in Sydney today, Chair Mr Rupert Myer AM praised key supporters of the much-anticipated redevelopment project and confirmed total pledges now exceeded $6 million. Mr Myer said, “The generous support received for the new Australian Pavilion ensures it is firmly on track to open as planned at the 56th International Art Exhibition in 2015. It promises to be a stunning and distinctive addition to the Venice Biennale landscape and an important addition to Australia’s cultural infrastructure.”

Addressing today’s reception, Mr Burke acknowledged assembled donors to the project and congratulated the architect for the new Pavilion, Denton Corker Marshall. Mr Burke said, “Australia’s creative and philanthropic community has once again shown a willingness to support iconic works that symbolise Australia’s artistic creativity on a global stage. The Australian Government is pleased to partner with the many generous private supporters who have contributed to help this vision become a reality. ”

The private fundraising efforts for the new pavilion have been led by Australian Commissioner for the 2013 and 2015 Venice Biennales, Simon Mordant AM. Following an initial pledge of $1 million, the Mordant family increased its commitment to $2 million after seeing the selected design for the Pavilion.

Significant contributions have also been pledged by the Belgiorno-Nettis family, as well as Allan Myers AO QC and Maria Myers AO, Andrew and Cathy Cameron, the Nelson Meers Foundation and an anonymous donor.

The project has also captivated the attention of some of our most celebrated global artistic achievers with noteworthy support received from Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, as well as Rachel Griffiths and her husband and visual artist Andrew Taylor, each of whom have been involved in opening previous Biennales in Venice for Australia.

“I gratefully acknowledge the donors for their outstanding generosity and philanthropic leadership for the Pavilion redevelopment project,” said Mr Myer. “In particular, special thanks must go to Simon and Catriona Mordant. Their dedication and commitment to the arts in Australia is unrivalled and the success of this project is testament to their tireless commitment to fostering international interest in Australian artists.”

Mr Mordant responded by saying, “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone and a clear indication that we are full steam ahead to open the new Pavilion as anticipated in 2015. I am sure I speak for all donors when I say I am thrilled and proud to see this extraordinary vision close to being realised. The overwhelmingly positive response from the Federal Government, philanthropic and creative communities reflects a deep commitment to the Venice Pavilion and the excitement that surrounds the dynamic new design. Venice is the most important contemporary art and architecture exposition globally and Australia will be the focus of the world when this new Pavilion opens in 2015.”

The new Australian Pavilion, designed by Denton Corker Marshall, will be the first 21st century building in the historic Biennale Gardens. Application and development approvals are being progressed in Italy with the assistance of the authorities in the city of Venice and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The first breaking of ground on the project is currently scheduled to commence in December, with capital works expected to take approximately twelve months.

Guests at today’s announcement were also provided with a copy of a new publication, which celebrates the existing Australian Pavilion as designed by Australian architect Philip Cox. The publication includes details of each short listed and the winning designs for the new Pavilion. The book was co-published by the Australia Council and Australian Institute of Architects, honouring the contribution the existing Pavilion has made to the arts and architecture.

Key donors to date:

Significant donors to date include: the Mordant family, the Belgiorno-Nettis family, together with Allan Myers AO QC and Maria Myers AO, Andrew and Cathy Cameron, Nelson Meers Foundation, and one anonymous and; Sir Ron Brierley, Denton Corker Marshall, Adrian and Michela Fini, Gandel Philanthropy, Annabel and Rupert Myer AM, and Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull.

The Australia Council also acknowledges generous donations from:

Geoff Ainsworth, Lesley Alway and Paul Hewison, Charlene and Graham Bradley AM, Karilyn Brown, Paul and Samantha Cross, Fiorella and Phillip de Boos-Smith, Dr Paul Eliadis, Terry and Lynn Fern, Neilma Gantner, GrantPirrie family, Ginny and Leslie Green, Rachel Griffiths and Andrew Taylor, Julian and Stephanie Grose, Doug Hall AM, Mark Henry, Janet Holmes à Court AC, Carolyn Kay and Simon Swaney, Kathy Keele, Elizabeth and Colin Laverty OAM, Amanda and Andrew Love, Mark and Louise Nelson, Anna and Morry Schwartz, Penelope Seidler AM, Vivienne Sharpe, Upton Blanchett family, and Brian Zulaikha.

Project history:

Following a feasibility study funded by the Australia Council and the Mordant family, The Australia Council announced the intended redevelopment of the Australian Pavilion in June 2011. The Australian Pavilion is positioned within the Biennale Gardens (Giardini della Biennale) in Venice. Almost 100 countries exhibit in Venice and Australia has one of 29 pavilions within the Biennale Gardens, all built at different periods. The current Australian Pavilion was designed by Australian architect Philip Cox and opened in 1988. The new Pavilion, to be designed by architects Denton Corker Marshall, will be the first 21st century building in the historic Biennale Gardens.

The Venice Biennale:

The Venice Biennale is considered the most important and prestigious event on the international contemporary arts calendar, and is the oldest and largest established biennale in the world. Australia has been consistently represented at the Venice Biennale for more than three decades, through the financial support and management of the Australia Council. The Biennale is a significant opportunity to present the best of Australia’s contemporary visual art to international curators, collectors and media. It opens doors for the Australian artists and for Australian art generally. More than 30,000 of the world’s leading curators, collectors, critics and media attend the three-day Vernissage period and more than 440,000 people visit the Biennale over six months.

The Architects:

Denton Corker Marshall’s credits include such landmark buildings as the Melbourne Museum, Museum of Sydney, Australian Embassies in Tokyo and Beijing, and the Stonehenge Visitor Centre in the United Kingdom. The new pavilion will be completed for the opening of the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, in 2015.

The Selection Panel:

The selection of the architect for the new Australian Pavilion involved a two-stage process managed by the Australia Council, and endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects. The selection panel for the redevelopment project comprised: Ms Lesley Alway (Director, Asialink, Arts; former Director, Heide Museum of Modern Art), Mr Luca Belgiorno-Nettis AM (Joint Managing Director of Transfield Holdings; Chair, Biennale of Sydney), Mr Doug Hall AM (Australian Commissioner, Venice Biennale 2011; former Director, Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art, 1987-2007), Ms Kathy Keele (former CEO, Australia Council for the Arts), Mr Simon Mordant AM (Australian Commissioner, Venice Biennale 2013 and 2015; Chair, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia), Mrs Penelope Seidler AM (Director, Harry Seidler and Associates; Board of Directors, Biennale of Sydney), the late Mr James Strong AO (former Chair, Australia Council) and Mr Brian Zulaikha (former President, Australian Institute of Architects and Director, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects).