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Exploring Philanthropy

“Exploring Philanthropy” is on display in the Templeman Gallery – from May to October 2022. 

The exhibition introduces themes in the history and practice of philanthropy and shows original archive material from across our collections in Special Collections and Archives – including publications by Charles Dickens, illustrations from Punch magazine, and a selection of items from the UK Philanthropy Archive collections.

Black and white cartoon showing poorly dressed people in an art gallery looking at pictures of wealthy and richly dressed people

The first ‘cartoon’ in Punch Magazine, dated 1843, titled Substance and Shadow – or “The poor ask for bread, and the philanthropy of the State accords – an exhibition”

The History of Philanthropy; Satire and Philanthropy

The sections on the ‘History of Philanthropy; and ‘Satire and Philanthropy’ take you on a whistle stop tour of philanthropy from earliest examples of giving into current perceptions of philanthropy and philanthropists.

Featured in this section is an edition of Punch; or, The London Charivari, from 1843, which established the term ‘cartoon’ as we now know it – referring to a humorous illustration or pictorial satire. The cartoon, by John Leech, titled “Cartoon – No 1 – Substance and Shadow” depicts the picture gallery in Westminster Hall and shows poor and ragged children and adults visiting the gallery. The people do not look like they are enjoying the experience of looking upon pictures of ‘high society’ with lives and experiences so different from their own. Leech is satirising the insensitivity of government spending on an exhibition when poverty was such a huge problem.

Highlights from the UK Philanthropy Archive collections

In our wall cases we show off records, documents and images from the UK Philanthropy Archive collections of Dame Stephanie Shirley, Amanda Sebestyen and the Marc Fitch Fund.

Dame Stephanie Shirley started her charitable foundation – the Shirley Foundation  – in the late 1990s with the intention of giving away most of her money made through her software company – Freelance Programmers. The exhibition includes items that reflect her life, career and philanthropy including items from her early career in programming; cards representing the number of speeches she has given about women, management, IT and autism; documents showing the type of projects she funded through her Foundation; and awards presented to her throughout her life for contributions to philanthropy and IT.

Commemorative envelope showing stamps relating to the Kindertransport

This commemorative cover (collectable envelope) from the archive collection of Dame Stephanie Shirley was released in 1999 on the 60th Anniversary of the Kindertransport. It was designed by Stanley Kacher and has a special Liverpool Street postmark. Dame Stephanie arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied refugee on the Kindertransport in 1939. A key motivation for her work ethic and philanthropy was to give back to the country that had saved her life. “I decided to make mine a life worth saving… and then I just got on with it.” (Dame Stephanie Shirley).

Amanda Sebestyen is a writer, editor and campaigner with a focus on human rights, women rights, refugees, and asylum seekers. Her archive papers reflect her family settlement, set up by her father in 1968; and archives relating to Amanda’s participation as a founding member of the Network for Social Change. The exhibition includes some documents relating to the early days of the Network for Social Change, Amanda’s focus on ethical investment, and her support for the Edmund Rice Centre, and projects including ANTaR – Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation – and their Sea of Hands project. ANTaR is a national advocacy organisation dedicated to the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

selection of documents and postcards of the Sea of Hands project

The Sea of Hands project was designed to engage Australians with rights and reconciliation issues. Originally launched in 1997, thousands of hands in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were installed in front of Parliament House in what was then the largest public art installation in Australia. Sea of Hands has become an annual campaign and the installation travels the country raising awareness about identities, cultures and history.

The Marc Fitch Fund was created in 1956 by Marc Felix Brudenell Fitch (1908-1994), a historian and philanthropist. Marc used his wealth from the family firm – the food manufacturer Fitch & Son, to fund scholarly and archaeological causes and publishing in the areas of local history, genealogy and heraldry. The exhibition shows a selection of archive papers of the Marc Fitch Fund including an example of the minutes of Trustee Meetings including the planned objects of the Fund, photographs of the first Trustees, and the beautiful Coat of Arms awarded to the fund in 1979.

 

Rolled document - a coat of arms - in a red box with gold wax seals and blur ribbons

The Marc Fitch Fund was awarded its own Coat of Arms by the College of Arms in 1979, in recognition of Marc Fitch’s generosity to scholarship in heraldry, genealogy and other disciplines.   

How does philanthropy work? 

The exhibition explores how philanthropy works and operates – with panels describing different types of philanthropic methods such as private giving, networks and giving circles, and trusts and foundations. The panels explore how some trusts are funded with endowments, and others chose to spend out their assets in a set time period. The exhibition also explores how the philanthropic sector is looking at the power dynamics associated with holding and giving money and how philanthropists are approaching these issues.

The History of Fundraising, and Fundraising in Theatre and Comedy 

At the end of the exhibition we look at the another side of the philanthropy triangle – those who make the ask for funding, describing early charity appeals, and how fundraisers have harnessed the power of celebrity. We showcase some examples from our theatre and comedy archive collections that illustrate where performance has been used as a vehicle for fundraising over many centuries – from playbills advertising benefit performances in the 18th century to stand-up comedy fundraising events in the last few decades.

Theatre playbill with text describing a performance of A Cure for the Heart Ache in 1823 at the Theatre Royal in Ulverston

This playbill advertises a performance of ‘A Cure for the Heart Ache’ in 1823 at the Theatre Royal in Ulverston. The performance was for the benefit of George Bailey’s ‘unhappy situation’, with the profits going to his wife and seven children.
Reference: POS/ULV R/0594874