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A philanthropic fund established to honor the life of respected Melbourne businessman Don Macfarlane who, throughout his life, took immense pleasure in the arts.

The Macfarlane Fund, established on his passing by Don Macfarlane’s wife Helen and daughter, Victorian entrepreneur and businesswoman Melissa Macfarlane, honors these long-term plans.

The Macfarlane Fund’s primary focus is to offer financial support across the career span of artists, with three main funding streams developed at graduate, mid-career and senior levels.

Managed by a Board, with decisions made through a separate Advisory Committee made up of members of the national visual arts community, the Fund will also strive to foster relationships between recipients, and in time form an actively connected and nurturing alumni of artists.  

Underpinning its development is a rigorous approach to decision-making, and a commitment to being flexible, effective and responsive to artistic practice and initiatives in a way that challenges established modes of giving.

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The first initiative to be launched by the Macfarlane Fund is the Don Macfarlane Prize, a most generous $50,000 award to be given annually to a senior Australian artist, in recognition of their unwavering, agenda-setting arts practice, ongoing cultural contribution and leadership, and commitment to mentorship.

“Throughout his later years, my father recognized there were significant gaps in the philanthropic and funding sector, especially for artists who may have had a long and enduring career but had missed out on grants and prizes along the way, primarily because many were designed around supporting emerging and young artists,” said Melissa Macfarlane.   

“This is the prize that most represents his ethos – it’s for artists who have taken risks, made breakthroughs and inspired other artists, and also maintained a commitment to mentoring others. He would be especially thrilled to know we have established the Macfarlane Fund in his name, to support and help artists of this caliber, and at a senior level.”

The Don Macfarlane Prize

The Biennial Commissions are an Award to be developed in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, specifically designed for mid-career artists.  

Every second year for a period of six years, a group of Australian artists will be invited by the ACCA curatorial team to make a large-scale new work that will be shown in this prestigious and nationally recognized gallery.

The inaugural Biennial Commission recipients was be announced in November, 2017 and ran from 15 December 2018 to 24 March 2019

The second Biennial Commision ran from 5 December 2020 to 14 March 2021

The Biennial Commissions
The Kyneton Residency
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A self-contained, live in, studio space for recent graduates. Space includes participation a group show at Stockroom and access to Kyneton's art hive.

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From time to time  a discretionary fund is available for one-off donations for special projects considered to be worthy or important.

Other Projects
Our Board


Melissa’s first love is art, she studied art history at Latrobe, then went into the work force via marketing, ended up managing bands and then studied interior design, followed by fine art. She met her husband and opened a cocktail bar, then 3 gastro pubs, then a vintage furniture and design store in Kyneton.  More recently she opened a vintage store in  Portland Oregon. In a twisted covid outcome, she has harnessed her entrepreneurial spirit and opened a licensed department store that houses all of her interests; vintage furniture, interior design, exotic liquor, cocktails and #daydrinking.



Matt's professional background is in advising on technology, communications, regulations and the law.  He has held executive positions across energy, aviation and telecoms industries. He is currently a non-executive director of Eco-markets Australia Ltd, the auDA Administration Ltd, and is Principal of HealyAdvisory.  His interests in the creative sectors is longstanding and includes as a co-founder of WestSpace Gallery.  In addition to his involvement with The Macfarlane Fund, Matt is also a Trustee of McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park.



Deborah Ratliff is a writer, former curator and educator with extensive experience working in both commercial galleries and major public arts institutions in Australia and the UK.


Previous Board appointments

Castlemaine Art Museum



She is currently working on a collection of short stories 



Angela Rutherford has over 20 years’ experience working with multi-generational families, providing leadership and direction across the design and delivery of financial outcomes as well as strategies for managing family dynamics and guidance for succession planning and transfer of wealth.
Prior to joining Mutual Trust in 2019, Angela was the long-term Managing Director of a prominent philanthropic Melbourne family.  Services offered to the family were designed to meet the varied needs and expectations of the family members interests including financial, legal, wealth management, philanthropic pursuits and other personal interests.  
Angela is currently a Partner of Family Office at Mutual Trust, an organisation which looks after the needs of successful Australian families to preserve their wealth for future generations and assists with succession planning, education and philanthropy.
Angela is a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.



Based in Kyneton, Gemma is an arts professional with extensive experience in event delivery and organisation management gained over 20 years in Australia, Scotland and Aotearoa New Zealand.


In her current role as General Manager at the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres (VAPAC), Gemma works alongside the Executive Director managing a small team to implement and monitor the organisation's strategic objectives and on the planning, production and delivery of VAPAC's projects and events including Australia's leading state-based performing arts market Showcase Victoria, and a suite of membership development initiatives and industry partnerships.



Chris has worked in the screen industries for over 25 years. From 2002 - 2014 he was a producer and researcher at ABC International in Adelaide and then Sydney, with a particular focus on arts programming including documentaries and series that broadcast across the Asia Pacific region. Chris has been with Film Victoria since 2017, developing their talent investment with a particular focus on diversity and inclusion.



Sam is a lifelong  lover of, and dabbler in, the arts. In year 12 he applied to the Victorian College of the Arts’ Sculpture School and, alternatively,  Melbourne Law School. How did that go? He’s now a barrister whose career favourite matter to date was the ‘Case of the Fake Rupert Bunny’. He brings his broad legal experience of 25 years, and passion for the arts, to the Board. 



Brad Spolding is the Artistic Director of The SUBSTATION, a multi-art space presenting a curated program of contemporary, experimental art in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Over the past five years, under Brad's programming, The SUBSTATION has established itself as a leading presenter of contemporary experimental arts practice, facilitating the creation and presentation of new work by some of the best local, national and international artists.

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