Farewell to a Visionary Leader — 15.08.16

Arts Foundation Founding Trustee and the consultant to Creative New Zealand, who established the Arts Foundation in 1998, Sir Ronald Scott has died. He was 88.

Aue! Kua tuaina te totara whakarangiura o te wao tapu a Tane a, ko tona raratanga kua tae atu ki nga topito katoa o te ao! Te maruaio a te iti, te tokomaunga o te rahi haere, haere, haere atu ra!


Sir Ron was an inspirational leader and great friend to us all at the Arts Foundation. A deep love of the arts and a genuine belief in its importance to society motivated him to found the Arts Foundation with Richard Cathie, Brian Stevenson, Gisela Carr and the Founding Trustees and Governors.
Ron was also well known and loved in sporting circles and received his knighthood for chairing the Christchurch Games Organising Committee for the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch. He also served as the Chairman of the Hillary Commission and among many other things was instrumental in the establishment of Lotto.
Richard Cathie, Founding Chair of the Arts Foundation, was a great friend of Sir Ron’s. Richard said, “Sir Ronald was an inspiration to us all. He combined huge energy with a deep knowledge of how to get things done. Above all, he was a pleasure to be with. He was a great New Zealander and we will all miss him."
Ros Burdon was the second Chair of the Arts Foundation and also had a close working relationship with Ron, “He was the best advocate the Arts Foundation could possibly have. He believed completely in what the Foundation was doing and spread the word wherever he went and he went everywhere…He made a lasting difference to all the organisations to which he belonged and those of us who worked with him will never forget his imaginative spirit, determination and focus." 

Gisella Carr said, “Sir Ronald Scott was a magical man, charismatic and wonderful fun. Our close and joyful working relationship spanned twenty years and three organisations. We were especially proud of our collaboration in the establishment of the Arts Foundation and its subsequent successes." 

To work with Ron was to experience a masterclass in leadership. He had superb management skills. For instance, his management team were so on top of the detail in the lead up to the 1974 Commonwealth Games that Ron’s primary instruction for the final months was simply, “let’s focus on polishing the event.”
Sir Eion Edgar was also a Founding Trustee of the Arts Foundation and said, “Ron was a truly inspirational person, and without his continuous drive, initiatives and outstanding leadership, New Zealand would be a much poorer place." 

Founding Arts Foundation Governor and recipient of the Award for Patronage, Gillian, Lady Deane said, “What a charming, clever and creative friend he was. He had an amazing capacity for networking and finding interesting and imaginative solutions to lead organisations forward. He had such personality and life-there was only one of him."
Ron was immense fun to work with. He was always at the centre of any mischief making. Angela Busby, Founding Administrator of the Arts Foundation, remembers Ron coercing Sir Miles Warren to hide in an alley with her so they could jump out and give Richard Cathie a fright late one night in Auckland.
Ron’s ideas were rich, full of possibilities and always focused on changing the nation. A true visionary, he was very important to the development of the Arts Foundation Executive Director, Simon Bowden. A great mentor for Simon and a constant inspiration, Simon says, “Ron’s ability to think strategically was critical to the development of the Arts Foundation, but it was his love of people, life and the arts that created the life-force of the Foundation. It was infectious and will be sorely missed."
The Arts Foundation sends its heartfelt condolences to Ron’s wife Beverly and their family. A private family service will be held for Ron in Christchurch. Arts Foundation Chairman, Garth Gallaway, has asked the Foundation office to plan a memorial service to celebrate Sir Ron, for which an announcement will be made in due course. Messages can be left for the family here

Image credit: Photo taken at the Wellington home of Patrons of the Arts Foundation, Michael and Lesley Shanahan, 2009.
Opening words by Derek Lardelli, Trustee of the Arts Foundation.