Multicultural Arts Victoria receives visionary bequest of $350,000

Visionary couple bequeath significant gift to Australia’s preeminent multicultural arts organisation in recognition of its vital work.

Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) acknowledges the generosity of Beverley Shelton (nee Hart) and her late husband Martin Schonthal whose bequest supports numerous young and emerging artists from refugee backgrounds to forward their artistic careers in Australia.

MAV would also like to thank Paul Montgomery, the estate’s executor and dear friend of Beverley for fulfilling the estate’s vision.

“MAV feels very honoured to have been chosen as recipient of the bequest and looks forward through this generous donation to support our many talented artists to realise their dreams! It is an extraordinary legacy to leave- inspiring artists from refugee backgrounds to believe that a new artistic life in Australia is possible!”
– Jill Morgan AM, CEO, MAV

Victoria’s refugee communities boast an incredible diversity of cultures and extraordinary artistic talent. Many refugees, having fled their homelands due to conflict, upheaval and fear of persecution, were successful, renowned artists in their homelands but now face significant barriers that inhibit their cultural practice and participation.

As the only organisation of its kind in Victoria; and as the peak arts body for multicultural communities, MAV has an obligation to provide advocacy, pathways, networks and opportunities for skills and leadership development for Victoria’s refugee artists and communities. The bequest from the Estate of Beverley Shelton and her late Husband, Martin Shonthal will enable MAV to continue to address these objectives and provide platforms for the expression and exploration of diversity through artistic practice, enabling people to connect across cultures, to feel represented and to learn about each other in a creative and expressive way. This in turn contributes to a sense of unity, trust, belonging, acceptance and tolerance within the community and to social stability and harmony.

For more than four decades MAV has championed the cultural connections that have shaped the broader social fabric of Victoria. More than simply art for art’s sake, MAV promotes intercultural dialogue, brings cultures together and increases cultural literacy. MAV’s innovative work not only improves respect for human rights, but increases Victoria’s economy and social capital through cultural tourism, employment pathways and improved social cohesion.

About Beverley and Martin
Beverley was a woman of action who was “front of house” at Fanny’s Restaurant in Lonsdale Street. In the 70’s and 80’s Fanny’s was an institution in Melbourne’s formal dining scene. Beverley handled the table bookings and book keeping and was close to the Staleys who owned the business. Beverley also had a love of fine dining herself and was an excellent and innovative cook. She met Martin in the early seventies and provided significant input into his fashion importing business, which also operated in central Melbourne, from Block Arcade. Beverley was quite the seamstress in her own right, making many of her own clothes and hand making lampshades for a local supplier.

Martin was a refugee who came to Melbourne as a ‘boat person’ during the Second World War. He fled Germany to England. His parents and most of his family were subsequently killed in Hitler’s Germany. The British interned him as an enemy alien because of his German origins and then loaded him onto the now iconic ship The Dunera. He was sent to Australia without his consent. Upon arrival he was interned at various camps in Hay and Tatura. He was however, most positive about the conditions of his internment and complimentary about his fair treatment. Post war many of these European Jews, known as the Dunera Boys, made major contributions to business, education, culture and the arts in Australia. They were exceedingly grateful for the manner in which they were received by the government and the opportunities that were afforded them. Martin started out retraining as a food technologist/industrial chemist developing frozen food processes and diabetic products for Australian consumers. In the sixties, he shifted to the fashion industry where he imported men’s, women’s and children’s fashions, distributing them to small boutiques Australia wide. He loved Australia and often talked about the goodwill and support his new homeland and its people provided him.

Bequests are a vital part of ensuring the financial sustainability of Multicultural Arts Victoria. As a not-for-profit organisation, MAV relies on the generosity of individuals to ensure the success of its programs and initiatives. A bequest to MAV is an effective way of ensuring that refugees and artists from diverse communities have a voice.

If you would like to make a bequest or discuss making a contribution to MAV, please contact the CEO or Treasurer on +61 9188 3681