Photos: Paul Burns
It was 1961, more than 50 years ago now, when Ian and Mercedes Stoutzker made their first gift to the arts. The recipient was the Royal College of Music, which established the Ian Stoutzker Prize for excellence in violin-playing. Just a few years before, Ian himself might have been a contender to win it. As a young man he trained at the College under Albert Sammons, before eventually choosing a new path at the London School of Economics. Perhaps no musician has ever done so much for music after choosing a new career.
Over the years Ian has supported many musical projects but he believes his greatest contribution was founding Live Music Now with Yehudi Menuhin in 1977. This pioneering idea brought music to children with special needs, and into hospices, care homes for the elderly and similar venues. At the same time, young musicians would have paid opportunities to develop their experience. Today it is the foremost musicians’ development and outreach charity in Europe and has given over 50,000 workshops and interactive performances throughout the UK. Ian remains the active founder chairman.
He has also been chairman of the Philharmomia Orchestra and later, was Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the London Symphony Orchestra. At the Royal College of Music he was made a vice president having served many years on the executive committee, and he maintains his interest in the Musicians Benevolent Fund as a member of the Advisory Council. Among his major gifts was a donation to the Royal Academy of Music to enable them to complete their acquisition of the Viotti ex Bruce Stradivarius for their collection.
More recently, in 2011, with the help of £500,000 from the Stoutzkers, the Royal Welsh College completed the Dora Stoutzker Hall, a world class venue named after Ian’s mother, a music teacher from Tredegar, South Wales, who gave him her love of music. “The hall is humming with activity, all day every day,” says the college principal, Hilary Boulding. “It is hugely loved and now affectionately known as ‘the Dora’.” In Wales the Stoutzkers also sponsor the Only Men Aloud and the Only Boys Aloud scheme that was founded by Live Music Now alumnus Tim Rhys Evans.
If it ended here, the list of their kind acts would already be long enough. Yet Ian and Mercedes have been equally generous to visual art. When Mercedes came to London from Morocco in 1958 she brought a deep love of art with her. With limited means at the time, she was able to acquire works by great British artists who were not yet fully appreciated, and over time the couple came to live surrounded by a superb collection. However, both Ian and Mercedes believe that art should be shared by as many people as possible, so in 2012 they donated nine important works to Tate, by artists such as David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Peter Doig, RB Kitaj and Rachel Whiteread, valued altogether at more than £12m. Besides their generosity, “it is their quiet grace and modesty,” says Sir Nicholas Serota, “which makes them such wonderful people to work with.”
The Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy celebrates individuals whose significant cultural philanthropy has played a crucial role in shaping and sustaining the cultural sector across the UK.
Arts & Business, part of Business in the Community, is managing this award on behalf of The Prince of Wales who is our President. This is the sixth year in a row he has presented these medals.
This year, the five honourees whose contributions have been both instrumental to the organisations they have supported, and inspirational to others are: