He is also a philanthropic supporter of the museum. “We [Mordant and wife Catriona] support all the organisations we are actively involved with,” he says.
The appointment rounds out an already full dance card. Mordant also serves on the executive committee of the Tate’s international council in the United Kingdom and the leadership council of New York’s New Museum.
At home he continues to chair the board of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, where Catriona is also involved with the museum’s foundation. He is also the Australian commissioner for the Venice Biennale, a role he clearly relishes. He has been particularly active in the campaign for the redevelopment of the Australian Pavilion, which will open next year with an exhibition of Fiona Hall’s work.
He sees the Australian Pavilion as a successful example of private and public sector partnerships, something he believes we will see more and more of. “I think philanthropy is critical across the community here and globally. Governments can’t be expected to be the sole funder of everything,” he says.
He argues that the challenge for art organisations in this environment is one of communication. “Institutions – and that is more broad than just museums – need to be able to clearly enunciate their position in the community,” he says. This not only means talking about “their reason to exist and their vision”. Just as important is the ability to explain “governance and funding models and engage with potential private sector supporters in the broadest sense possible”. It is no wonder that museums are looking for philanthropists with business skills like Mordant’s to help them negotiate these sorts of new challenges.