2016 Recipients - John and Jo Gow

The Arts Foundation Award for Patronage acknowledges significant philanthropic contributions to the arts. Arranged by FHE Galleries, recipients receive a work of art from renowned jeweller and sculptor, Chris Charteris, as a symbol of recognition.

John and Jo Gow’s love of nature began when they owned a home in Wellington originally built by Leonard Cockayne, who is regarded as New Zealand’s greatest botanist. They were regular visitors to Wellington’s Otari-Wilton bush reserve inspired by Cockayne.

The couple have always had a passion for theatre, which saw them run a successful business financing musical theatre productions throughout the world including Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and many others.

They subsequently brought their love of nature and arts together with the formation of the Connells Bay Sculpture Park in 1993, installing the first sculpture in 1998 and opening to the public in 2003. John and Jo find great joy in working alongside artists, as their ideas and thoughts often align to their own. Guiding visitors through the sculpture park gives them the opportunity to share the artists’ experiences with people interested in the arts and nature.

The focus of their philanthropy, which is channelled through the Connells Bay Sculpture Trust, is in theatre and visual arts. The main organisations that have benefitted from their philanthropy include Auckland Art Gallery and its Foundation, Auckland’s Artspace, Auckland Arts Festival, Indian Ink, Len Lye Foundation, Q Theatre, Silo Theatre, Sculpture on the Gulf, Tautai Trust, The Big Idea (TBI) and the NZ Venice Biennale Patrons Group.

John and Jo have also contributed funding towards numerous artists’ books and projects. Several key projects include facilitating the Phil Price Fulcrum sculpture exhibition in 2008, enabling Darryn George to participate at a Venice Biennale collateral project in 2013 and initiating the International Sculpture Symposium in Auckland in 2013.

John and Jo enjoy taking a leadership role in philanthropy by frequently offering leveraged or matched funding opportunities to encourage organisations to succeed in their fundraising, and individuals to share the enjoyment of funding arts and theatre projects. They wish to acknowledge and thank those who have supported them in the past and to encourage others to join them on future projects.

Award for Patronage recipients are given $20,000 to distribute to artists or arts organisations of their choice to celebrate the occasion of the award. All recipients to date have chosen to donate $20,000 of their own so they can give away $40,000. They have also all chosen to split the $40,000 into four donations of $10,000 each to four artists, organisations or arts projects.

John and Jo selected the following organisations to receive support on the occasion of their award.