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More spiritual infrastructure, please: Grace and Phil on why they give 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. First up? Meet Grace Hall and Phil Bain. Part of our Kotahi collective at an Arts Follower level, these two generous Wellingtonians etch out $500 a year to fuel creativity in Aotearoa... and they love it!

Tell us a bit about you?

We're Grace and Phil. We live next door to Moore Wilson's in an inner-city Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington apartment full of books, music and our very small art collection. Our jobs are very 'Wellington' – Grace is a local government policy director, and Phil's a commercial lawyer. Grace's pipe dream is to own a wine bar, Phil's is to become a full-time jeweller.

Why do you give to the arts? And in what ways?

We try and give to the arts as much as we can. As well as making a small contribution to the Arts Foundation each month (it's easy! And great!), we're frequent flyers at gigs, NZSO concerts, film festivals and arts festivals – one of the best things about living in Wellington. We've also got a very small art collection, made up mostly of ceramics and photography by New Zealand artists. And we provide moral support and occasional Uber deliveries of wine and gin to Grace's sister who dances with the Rosas company in Brussels. It's important to us to give to artists and the arts, because without a thriving arts scene in Wellington – and Aotearoa – we think life would be pretty mundane.

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

When we first met, Grace was studying art history at the University of Canterbury and was introduced to the work of Tim Veling. She became obsessed with his photographs of post-quake Christchurch and was desperate to buy one. Phil's always been more of a realist, and suggested buying a Tim Veling original probably wasn't a legitimate use of student loan course-related costs! Instead, Phil suggested on our first overseas holiday that we start a tradition of buying a ceramic, made by a local artist, in every country we visited. We've kept this up, and while Covid has disrupted overseas travel we've made a habit of buying ceramics in the small New Zealand towns we've visited too. For us this has been such an entry-level way to build up our own small collection of art, while supporting local artists too. Once we both had real jobs we did eventually buy a Tim Veling work, not long after we moved to Wellington. It's now a daily reminder for both of us of the years we spent living in post-quake Christchurch, and early years together.

What do the arts give you?

We feel like art plays a major part in shaping the places you want to live and hang out in. We've filled our home with art that connects us to people and places we've visited and experiences we've had. And as Grace always says, a city is so much more than pipes and roads – it's art and creative experiences and what her grandad calls 'spiritual infrastructure' (like galleries and libraries and public artworks and performance spaces) that make a city vibrant and fun and the kind of place you want to call home. We're all for more of this stuff!