Have you ever considered donating to the arts? Self-confessed arts junkie and Sydney Festival Philanthropy Manager Marita Supplee, talks us through the Festival’s philanthropy program.

What is the philanthropy program and why does Sydney Festival accept donations?

Sydney Festival is a non-profit organisation – we receive some core funding from the NSW Government and the City of Sydney for which we are extremely grateful but this represents only about a third of the total funding. Corporate sponsorship, private support, catering income and ticket sales make up the remainder. Private giving has played an increasing role in enabling us to sustain an array of artistic and community programs and my appointment in this position was testament to the Festival’s commitment to developing this area.

How long have you managed the program and what do you love most about your job?

Over the relatively short time I’ve been here (two Festivals under my belt), it has been a pleasure and a privilege to take on the role of the Festival’s Philanthropy Manager. Creating opportunities for donors to meet with the Festival Director and artists in a fun, social context and seeing first-hand the difference it makes to our donor’s experience and engagement with the Festival is very satisfying. Of course being able to celebrate with them after the Festival and reflect on everything we’ve achieved together is also very special. I’ve even once been told “We don’t give you enough, you have made us feel like true VIP’s!” which is testament to the strength of the program.

How would you describe a typical Sydney Festival donor?

The donors are as diverse as the Festival itself and their motivations are equally different. We have donors as young as 12 who give together with their cousins through a family foundation. They support our free programs and find that their annual involvement is a great way to connect as an extended family. Others with ages ranging from 30 to well into their 80’s might support traditional arts organizations but particularly enjoy being pushed out of their comfort zones by our programming during Festival time. I know everyone enjoys the sense of inclusion, comradery and diversity the Philanthropy Program provides.


“My husband and I would like to thank you for making our experience at  Sydney Festival so very special and memorable. We will reflect upon the special opportunities and invitations you extended to us for the rest of the year.” – jenny solomon

Aside from a healthy dose of the warm-and-fuzzies, what do donors receive in return for their generosity?

Donors receive a unique opportunity to get closer to the Festival and its artists with exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences resulting in conversations and friendships that continue throughout the Festival and across the years.
This year we have expanded the offering to donors with an overseas tour. Our 2016 journey travels to the UK’s best summer arts festivals, culminating in six nights at the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe Festival where we will be joined by Sydney Festival Director, Wesley Enoch. Donors will be taken behind the scenes, meeting performers and directors, attending rehearsals and enjoy private receptions.


“Sydney Festival brings diversity and amazement to us. It’s our only opportunity to participate in building a city, experiencing edgy performances, or taking a flying fox ride!” – penelope seidler am

I’m interested, but not really sure where to start. How much should I donate?

All donations are gratefully received and can be made easily online or by contacting me directly. The Philanthropy Program commences with Festival Lover gifts from $1,000. Festival Lovers enjoy access to a pre-sale period, personalised ticketing concierge and an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Festival by way of the Festival Love Letter which comes directly from the Festival Director.
Donors who support at increasing levels also enjoy bespoke events in the lead up to the Festival and the opportunity to connect with the Festival Director and Festival artists throughout January.

I’ve found that all donors appreciate the deeper understanding and engagement with the Festival’s projects and the opportunities to meet like-minded people and expand their networks. All in a fun and social environment!


“To us, Sydney Festival sets the rhythm of Sydney in the summer. The wide variety of innovative artists and events provides a vitality that connects people and community. It stretches our imaginations and stimulates our creativity. This wonderful festival totally lifts our spirits. Such cultural experiences enrich Sydney – making it an even better place to be.” – Rhae Shaw


Join us in celebrating in 2017!

The program offers various levels of support with a variety of benefits including priority booking, VIP access and exclusive event invitations. Get in before the end of the financial year with a tax-deductible donation.

Visit sydneyfestival.org.au/support or contact Marita on 02 8248 6510 or marita.supplee@sydneyfestival.org.au for further details.