Guide to fundraising for organ restoration

In the past 30 years, a large number of successful organ restorations have been carried out throughout Australia, ranging in size from the colossus in the Sydney Town Hall, to small chamber organs with but a handful of stops. The raising of funds for these projects was carried out in many instances with assistance from government agencies or through financial incentives such as tax-deductibility for restoration appeals.

Before initiating an appeal for the restoration of an organ, it is essential that the services of an experienced organ consultant be obtained. The consultant can carry out an assessment of the state of an instrument, make recommendations for the work required, and suggest suitable organbuilders who might be approached for the preparation of quotations. The consultant will also prepare a statement of significance for the instrument, assist in the evaluation of quotations and recommend the most appropriate organbuilder for the work. A number of OHTA councillors, including Kelvin Hastie, Ray Holland and John Maidment, have acted as consultants for major organ restoration projects.

Any scheme of restoration which is developed should conform with the NSW Heritage/OHTA Pipe organ conservation and maintenance guide. This will ensure that the project allies with current restoration philosophy and is thus eligible for financial assistance.

If a restoration appeal is desired, focussing upon the wider community, tax-deductibility may be obtained either through the Organ Historical Trust of Australia which is listed on the Australian Government’s Register of Cultural Organisations. In order to qualify, instruments must be of heritage significance; classification by the National Trust of Australia can be helpful. Once such appeals are approved, donations are channelled via OHTA and receipts are issued to donors which may be utilised for the purpose of tax deductions.

Organs must be in public venues, but schools would be able to access support through their own tax-deductible building campaigns, such as the instrument at Scotch College, Hawthorn, Victoria.

Once an appeal is set up, it is possible to approach corporate donors and charitable trusts for donations. Philanthropy Australia can advise on how and whom to approach. The restoration of many of Australia’s historic organs has been liberally assisted by charitable trusts. Details of such trusts may be found in the Directory of Funders. However, it is usually a requirement that funds are made available via organisations listed on the Federal Government Register of Cultural Organisations.

Government assistance is also available in several states. In New South Wales, the Heritage Office has made grants totalling many hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two decades for the restoration of pipe organs. The Heritage Office website has valuable information on funding for heritage projects together with heritage assistance through other sources.

Heritage Victoria also makes grants towards the restoration of registered historic pipe organs. The instruments must either be included on the Heritage Victoria register in advance (nominations for significant instruments can be made), or the building in which they are sited must be registered.