Shane and Danielle Simpson leave bequest to UNSW Art & Design

Long-time UNSW supporter and community leader Shane Simpson and his wife, Danielle, have notified the University of a generous gift included in their will. The Simpson’s seven figure bequest to UNSW Art & Design has only two conditions attached; that it funds staff and students to study and research in New Zealand and France.  

“For us, an intellectual, cultural, creative engagement with our home countries is a productive thing and, we believe, can be a valuable thing,” Simpson says. He was born in New Zealand and his wife in France. 

Simpson says that even giving a small percent of what’s in a person’s will can make an awfully big difference to those still alive.

Simpson has enjoyed a distinguished three-decade-long association with the Arts in Australia, and was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011, for his service to the Arts and law.

He is the chair of UNSW Art & Design Advisory panel, the Bundanon Trust and the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composers' House Trust, as well as being a director of the Australian National Academy of Music, the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Luca and Anita Belgiorno-Nettis Foundation.

Simpson founded the Arts Law Centre of Australia. Previous positions in the Arts include chair of Museums NSW, NSW Film and Television Office and the Song Company, a board member of the New Zealand Film Commission, a director of the Australian Writer’s Foundation, the Dictionary of Sydney, the Music Council of Australia and the Crafts Council of Australia

Funding the Arts is not about instant results for the donor, Simpson says: “You have to fund for creativity, for focused attempt and for challenge. Trial and error is important. Not every challenge works: not every record is a hit; not every picture is successful and not every play works.”

He acknowledges that the creative industry is a high-risk business. “You hope that at the end of the day there’s a result - and it may be indirect - which enriches people and our community and makes it a better place to live,” he says.

After graduating with degrees in law from the University of Auckland, Simpson has had a substantial legal career, establishing a law practice in Sydney in 1986, Simpson Solicitors. He has lectured widely and written and edited numerous books and periodical articles, mostly all on the thorny relationship between innovation, arts practice, copyright and the legal system.

Simpson also has strong views on philanthropy. “Philanthropy doesn’t only mean making a financial donation; committing time and skill is just as important as the money. “It drives me crazy that people know someone who can help, but don’t think to say: ‘Let me make a call tomorrow and I’ll get back to you’. To me, that’s more generous than writing a cheque, or putting a name on a building,” he says.

“Too often we don’t open our phone book because we all feel a bit awkward. We’ve just got to get over it. I never mind being asked. Nor do others. And if someone says ‘no’, that’s alright – it’s your cause and it’s their money.”

Simpson hopes his contribution will foster a society that values the creative contribution of the arts guided by values of excellence, integrity, empowerment and accessibility. He believes the cultural richness of our lives enables us to be happier, more creative in the way we approach everyday problems, our relationships and our world.

To find out more about leaving a gift to UNSW in your will please contact;

Janet Hall UNSW Foundation

T: 02 9385 0532

E: j.e.hall[at][dot]au

M: UNSW Foundation, Room G18 The Chancellery, UNSW Australia, UNSW Sydney NSW 2052




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