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Visionary donors inspired to bring art to a larger audience

Tim and Bella Church are astute art collectors and passionate supporters of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Since moving to Sydney in 2001, they have been regular visitors “to enjoy the stunning permanent collection and wonderful exhibitions from Australia and around the world”.

Bella was inspired to become a volunteer guide in 2004 after attending a series of Art Gallery Society lectures. “It’s about volunteering and giving back to the community but also about being around art and people who are passionate about art.”

Tim says he is fortunate to be on the President’s Council with Trust President David Gonski AC, Director Dr Michael Brand, Deputy Director and Director of Collections Maud Page, and Director of Development John Richardson. “I joined the Council just as the capital campaign for the Sydney Modern Project was kicking off and have witnessed first-hand the rigour, determination and love of the arts that this team has committed to the Gallery culminating in a very successful fully funded campaign to ensure the success of the project.”

Tim and Bella were inspired to support the Sydney Modern Project to bring the transformative power of art, in all its evolving forms, to a larger audience. They joined the campaign last year as Visionary donors.

We spoke about their love of art and what the Gallery’s expansion means to them.

Q: Tell us about your passion for art?

A: We both grew up in families who appreciated art and were regular attendees at galleries, museums and exhibitions. In our early 20s, this developed into weekend visits to commercial galleries to see new works, which then led to acquiring works that we could afford (not very much but meaningful for two young people just starting out in life!). The passion has continued and our tastes have changed and developed with knowledge and experiences. We love how art can make you question, think, change your mind and opinion, and inspire.

What motivated you to support the campaign for the Sydney Modern Project?

We are pleased to support the Sydney Modern Project as it will significantly improve the AGNSW’s ability to bring the love of art in many forms to larger audiences through a major expansion of exhibition space in spectacularly designed contemporary galleries.

Sydney Modern will provide the opportunity to experience more Indigenous and Western art, which needs to be seen by the widest audience. The Gallery has provided us with inspiration, joy, knowledge, challenged our assumptions and so much more, and this is our way of giving back so others can also experience what we have had the pleasure of enjoying.

What is the significance of the expansion for the Gallery’s future vision?

Art influences society by changing opinions, instilling values and translating experiences across space and time, and the new gallery will be vital in achieving this. It has the capacity to inspire, unify communities, provides spaces to promote discussion and will showcase Indigenous art and other art.

The new gallery will enhance tourism and the economy and shine the spotlight on global and local issues. It is a project that ticks all the boxes and delivers many benefits to the NSW community and beyond.

For more information about the Visionary Donor program (gifts of at least $100,000), please contact the campaign team at or 02 9225 1699.