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DONATE, people! Lisa Bates MNZM on why she gives to the arts

In this new series, we're shining a light on our generous giving community – inviting our Kotahi whānau across the country to tell us how and why they give to the arts.

Tell us a bit about you?

Lisa Bates MNZM, residing in Parnell Auckland. Passionate arts lover! Chair McCahon House Trust, Trustee Mackelvie Society & Friends of St David’s. Right now I am in love with the New Zealand Choral Federation who are hosting the World Choir Games in Auckland 2024 – the Olympic games of singing right here in Tāmaki Makaurau!

Why do you give to the arts?

Without time and money the arts are strangled. Already way too many artists holding things together just to deliver. If we are lucky to have some abundance then why not pass it on. Time is also a gift – the best not for profit occupation on the planet is working with colleagues at board level to catapult projects into the cultural sector. Money too – arts can’t do it without this – thank you to all my fabulous friends and acquaintances who GIVE $$$ to the arts.

How do you give?

DONATE people, if you connect with the entity or the work, step up and back it – you can’t take the dollars with you. Buy tickets endlessly for shows – even if you can’t go – give them away. Perform random acts of kindness. My favourite project right now is the pop-up McCahon House shop. ED Viv Stone and I get to spend the odd weekend playing shop in the garage of one of our terrific supporters. We sit for a few hours on a Saturday drinking coffee and chatting with passers by, receiving visitors and sharing the love. Look at this beautiful Shane Cotton 2020 Waterfall print we are selling, all in SUPPORT OF THE ARTS (also pictured; Judy Millar 2004 untitled and Emily Karaka Kauri Ora series 2021). Did you know Judy Millar was the first McCahon Artist-in-residence? Followed quickly by Fiona Pardington, Lisa Reihana, Andrew McLeod, Imogen Taylor, Jess Johnson and, and, and…..

What was the first creative experience that turned the light on for you?

When the NZSO visited my school HEART EMOJI x 4. Never had I heard or seen such exquisite beauty. Orchestras must visit their community – this is how we can turn on the light in someone else's unknown darkness. Concert programme! How else would any young person in New Zealand be exposed to classical music for free 24/7. We mustn’t lose this taonga – there are plenty of contemporary stations but only one RNZ Concert. Favourite work I never ever tire of my Louise Henderson from the Elements, Air & Water series painted around the time I was born. A critic in Belgium where they were exhibited with Milan Mrkusich works (1965) described them as “retaining a sense of changing and fleeting landscape where water, sky, land and light all merge in a single breath” (quote from Louise Henderson From Life). This is my painting bliss. I’m sure it is Milford Sounds…… but who would know! That’s the beautiful thing about an UNTITLED work right?


1. The pop-up McCahon House shop, in the garage of a terrific McCahon House supporter.

2. Executive Director McCahon House Viv Stone in front of the gorgeous Shane Cotton “Waterfall” edition.

3. Louise Henderson from the 'Elements – air & water' series