Hans Henkell has a passion for opera and giving. He has been a dedicated donor to the arts since 1991 and has generously donated to a range of projects on the ACF. His love of German and Australian cultural identity has been the motivator to him supporting the artistic ventures of ACF artists. We spoke to Hans about what inspires his generosity.
First things first, do you prefer to read a book or watch a film?
I enjoy both but my preference is to watch a film.
You have generously made a number of donations through the ACF.What would you say to encourage others to support artists?
Artists enrich our cultural landscape by offering their unique perspective on the society we live in and the world around us. They can open our eyes to possibilities we have, often not even thought of, and create a connection to ideas, people and our environment. Supporting artists in their creative process enable them to share their stories with us all and move and inspire us.
What spurred you initially to donate to the arts? What was the first donation that you made?
I started donating to the arts in 1991 (yes, 26 years ago – and have donated every year since). In 1991 I was “shoulder-tipped“ to give to Opera Foundation Australia – the German Operatic Award. I enjoyed the process and the involvement and have widened this exposure ever since.
What do you like most about donating through the ACF?
The ACF is an extremely good platform for bringing together donors and artists with their projects, for providing advice and support and contributing to collaboration between artists, business and philanthropists. Of course, the ability to donate to artists (who do not have charitable tax status) via ACF is THE driver for using the ACF as a vehicle.
What particular artist or project makes you want to shout about it from the rooftops?
My particular interest lies with the More than Opera Ltd (MTO), German-Australian Opera Grant (GAOG) which is an initiative co-supported by MYO, the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden and administered by myself and my company HENKELL BROTHERS.
The aim of GAOG is to promote emerging Australian opera singers in the early stage of their professional career and provide an opportunity for them to launch an international career. Each year one opera singer is chosen to join the ensemble of the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden as a junior solo singer, which provides invaluable experience working in the professional environment of an A-grade German opera house.
GAOG has been running since 2003 and has launched the international careers of 15 opera singers so far. This initiative contributes greatly to the cultural landscape in Australia and Germany and is something I am particularly proud of.
Tell us about your donation strategy. What projects do you choose to focus on and why?
The art of the operatic voice has fascinated me since my childhood, so this has been my focus on the projects I support. Artists and companies that produce opera are the first to catch my attention. Due to my German heritage and background, I have a deep love for projects that promote deeper cultural understanding between Germany, the country of my birth, and Australia, my adopted homeland.
Finally, finish this sentence: donating to the arts is…
…part of my personal makeup and something I would encourage everyone to do.