18 December 2012back

Welsh Philanthropist Honoured

The Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy celebrates the impact of givers to the arts

Five individuals from across the UK have been presented with medals for Arts Philanthropy by HRH The Prince of Wales.  Among them is Mathew Prichard who has been tirelessly supporting the arts in Wales for over 4 decades. 

Rachel Jones, Chief Executive of Arts & Business Cymru, said:

“I am absolutely delighted that the invaluable contribution made by Mathew to Wales’ cultural life is being celebrated.  He was the recipient of the first A&B Cymru Award for Arts Philanthropy in 2012 and it is wonderful to see his incredible support being recognised on a UK level.  Such generous benefactors are crucial in helping to sustain Wales’ vibrant arts scene, and this recognition will, I am certain, inspire others to follow his example.  Nobody needs to give money or time, and it is essential that we honour those that do.”

The initiative is organised by Arts & Business in England and the 5 honourees in 2012 are:
•        Sir Terence Conran
•        Sir Peter Moores CBE, DL
•        Mr Mathew Prichard, CBE, DL
•        Sir Gerald Elliot & Lady Elliot
•        The Lady Rayne

Arts & Business invited nominations from arts bodies the length and breadth of the UK to collate a first wave of potential recipients. The honourees, who could be UK or foreign nationals, receive their medal in recognition of philanthropic support of cultural activities in the United Kingdom or of UK artists or organisations presented overseas.  From the nominations received, a group predominantly made up of the Prince of Wales’ “Arts Cluster Group” drew up a shortlist of twenty philanthropists to go forward to a final judging panel of artists, who selected the five recipients.  This panel includes Sir Ronald Harwood (writer), Dame Monica Mason (The Royal Ballet Director) and Christopher Le Brun (Artist) and Colin Tweedy (Vice-President Arts & Business). The medals have been presented every year since 2008.

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Arts & Business Cymru says...

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Spokesperson in Wales:
Rachel Jones, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Cymru
029 2030 3023
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Mr Mathew Prichard, CBE, DL
 It isn’t widely known, but whenever someone buys an Agatha Christie novel, or watches Poirot on TV, or books a ticket to see The Mousetrap, they are making a vital contribution to the arts in Wales. This isn’t widely known because Mathew Prichard, Christie’s grandson who manages and partly owns her literary estate, is a modest man. But then, to give a fair account of everything he’s done for Welsh arts over the past four decades, you’d need a megaphone.

You’d need a long time as well, because when you gather them together, the organisations who rushed to nominate Mathew for this award are almost too numerous to list. There’s Welsh National Opera, National Museum Wales, Atlantic College and St Donat’s Arts Centre, Wales Millennium Centre, the Artes Mundi prize, Sinfonia Cymru chamber orchestra, the Gregynog [GRE-gunnog] classical music festival, Chapter visual and performing arts centre, and the Sherman Cymru theatre.

And even these make up just a sample of the arts and education groups who have benefited from Mathew’s charitable trust, Colwinston, and from him personally. Nor is it only money he’s donated. Among other posts, he has been president of the National Museum Wales and chairman of the Arts Council of Wales. At the moment, he is deputy chairman of the Welsh National Opera.

Time and again, people speak not only of his generosity, but also of his steadfastness, despite the risks. This means so much because it can be difficult to generate interest for a project far from London, let alone secure longterm funding, but Mathew’s loyalty has allowed many organisations to grow strong enough to bring in other donors. Thanks to him, Sinfonia Cymru and the Gregynog festival are now revenue-funded by the Arts Council of Wales, and Gregynog has been recognised by the Welsh government as a Signature Event.

Even so, not every risk comes off. One of the most remarkable features of Mathew’s giving has been his ability to absorb disappointments, and carry on. Plans for an opera house in Cardiff Bay designed by Zaha Hadid, which he supported, were never fulfilled. The Centre for Visual Arts in Cardiff suffered following the introduction of free entry to the city’s other museums, and eventually closed down. “He has had more than ample reason, to be honest, to pick up his bat and walk away from Wales,” says Geraint Talfan Davies, chairman of Welsh National Opera. “But he’s never done that. He’s stuck by the arts in Wales through thick and thin. He is someone with a real passion for what he does.”

This year marked the 60th anniversary of The Mousetrap’s opening night, and the 50th birthday of Atlantic College, where teenagers of all backgrounds come from around the world to share a first-class education. In celebration, Mathew has agreed to fund the refurbishment of the college library. It is his greatest joy, he says, that his grandmother’s genius for telling stories is still helping other artists to do great things - and helping audiences to find them.