Grassroots community and arts organisation 107 Projects has officially opened the Joynton Avenue Creative Centre in the Sydney suburb of Green Square, which was funded through a $100,000 grant from Sydney Airport.
The Sydney Community Foundation managed the grants on behalf of Sydney Airport, distributing $150,000 raised through the annual Bid for Good auction, where unclaimed lost property and luggage is sold off to raise money for charity.
The Joynton Avenue Creative Centre has opened during a major urban renewal program that has seen the previously industrial suburb of Green Square rapidly transform into a residential area, as new apartments are constructed and old warehouses are transformed into fashionable lofts.
Located in a heritage-listed building that previously served as the South Sydney Hospital’s nurses quarters, the centre will act as a community hub for the area’s new local residents, providing studios for artists and meeting spaces for local not-for-profits.
Owned by the City of Sydney, 107 Projects will manage the facility along with its existing co-working space in Redfern and provide a range of programs and activities designed to strengthen and engage the growing local community.
Alongside the community arts centre, which was the major recipient of the grant round, five other Sydney-based charities each received a $10,000 donation from the proceeds of the auction:
- Dress for Success to complete a new Boutique Fit out for its Marrickville studio
- Orana to renovate its social enterprise cafe in Jannali
- Royal Hospital for Women Foundation to continue running its Malabar Midwives empowering Indigenous women and mothers program
- 2Connect Youth & Community for its Thrive Youth Employment Hub in Rockdale
- Asylum Seekers Centre for its Work Readiness Program in Newtown
Why an international airport has a local focus
Speaking at a recent event to launch the arts centre, Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said that while he sees “a lot of really weird and wacky things” at the airport, which is used by around 150,000 people each day, it is the things people leave behind that amaze him.
“I think the most interesting thing we do each year is the lost property auction, because I can’t believe the things that people leave behind. It really is quite extraordinary,” Culbert said.
“You can understand people leaving their laptop in the back of the seat, or whatever, but the things that people leave behind – like large original artworks, large musical instruments like oboes, and this year someone left behind an electric stove and a whole set of pots and pans.
“I asked myself who’s taking an electric stove, and pots and pans, to the airport? And then who’s forgetting it?
“But their misfortune is our good fortune, and each year we run the [lost property] auction where we raise a lot of money for charity. We’re very proud of the money we raise, and we look to invest that money back into the local community.”
According to Culbert, the airport’s central location, 8 km from the Sydney CBD, has played an important role in guiding his company’s philanthropic focus.
“When we live so close to the CBD in such a built-up urban area, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that. And that responsibility is to be a really good neighbour and partner to everyone who lives and works in the area,” he said.
“That’s why with our charity efforts, we look to invest into local projects, local charities, and into the local community. These are all really good grassroots projects that are helping and investing in the future of the local community. People who are underprivileged, diverse groups, indigenous groups, they’re the people who need our help and we’re making sure our money goes towards those projects.”
Bringing a community foundation on board
Sydney Airport’s grantmaking partner, Sydney Community Foundation, was established 14 years ago.
“We started as a traditional philanthropic fund in the model of the UK and US community foundations, where many of them are very large and successful. The idea was adopted by the City of Sydney and the Myer Foundation,” Sydney Community Foundation marketing and partnerships manager Loredana Fyffe says.
The impetus for the Foundation originally came from some major Melbourne philanthropists who were receiving numerous funding requests from Sydney charities. Recognising that Sydney did not have its own community foundation, they provided the seed funding for its launch.
Since its formation, the Sydney Community Foundation has established the Sydney Women’s Fund and moved to a place-based philanthropy model focused on belonging, education and employment pathways, enabling independence and transforming place.
“Transforming place is a key focus of ours, and that’s why we’re excited about this project. It’s a big investment in growing our community in Sydney. As this area grows vertically it’s really interesting to see what roots are set down,” Fyffe says.
For years Sydney Airport had been selling items left behind at the airport through Pickles Auctions and handling the grantmaking themselves.
When they decided it was time to find a grantmaking partner, the Sydney Community Foundation’s place-based philanthropy model was a key factor in securing the partnership .
“In essence, we have been a consultant on good giving locally around Sydney. That’s our area of expertise, because we know who’s doing work on the ground,” says Fyffe, adding that the Foundation has demonstrated its ability to stay in a place for a sustained period of time and really make a change.
“They came to us for that help and expertise to give well in the precinct surrounding Sydney Airport, and for advice about how to do that with impact and sustainability.”
Why an airport invests in the arts
According to Fyffe, Sydney Airport had a number of criteria when it began its grantmaking partnership with the Sydney Community Foundation.
One was funding arts and culture, in particular something that would add to Sydney as a destination. “They wanted to focus on a world-class facility that people all over the world could come to,” says Fyffe.
But Sydney Community Foundation did not expect to fulfill this criteria and their own funding preference.
“A piece of research we did when we started our place-based philanthropy looked at the state of funding for people who are really struggling in our city. Still a majority of money was going to the larger charities – it wasn’t really getting into the little neighbourhood centres and grassroots – so we preferentially support them.
“When we got this grant application, because we encouraged them to do one large impact grant to have a great effect with the money and a series of smaller grants at the $10,000 level, we didn’t expect something in the local airport catchment to come up,” Fyffe says. “We expected something like the Opera House, and we’re really excited that outside that core CBD there’s something that’s been built and held onto for the Green Square community.
“Being able to fund this through Sydney Airport, through the lost property auction, is a real opportunity for the Sydney Community Foundation to show some leadership about what can be achieved when we partner with corporates, philanthropists and governments to embed programs for social cohesion.”
For more information about the Sydney Community Foundation, visit the website.