The vision of Peter and Jane Raffin of building a fund to provide ongoing financial support and encourage activities in the arts, became a reality in 1984 when the Orange Regional Arts Foundation was established.
The Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen attended a formal dinner in Orange to officially launch the appeal. Over the past 30 years, with the generosity of the community, the fund has continued to build, as have the Arts facilities. Orange now has a Regional Gallery, Library, Theatre, Conservatorium and a Museum due to open in 2016. We now live in a rich cultural community and the role of ORAF continues in reviewing submissions and allocating substantial funds to assist these facilities in their endeavours.
Peter and Jane Raffin
Raffo (Peter Raffin) is the key; but needing a forward, when John Young became the Theatre Manager in the new Civic Centre Theatre Complex in 1976, he asked if screens and lighting were installed in the forum, would I manage an exhibition program for the city. With our kids all at school, I jumped at the idea, realising a large community group interested in the visual arts existed already.
And as Newcastle Regional Gallery at that time was the “Jewel in the Crown” in NSW, Andy Fergusson, the Director welcomed a request from Orange for me to spend a fortnight in his gallery to observe the inside working of a Regional Gallery – where it immediately became blatantly obvious that the COMMUNITY GROUPS connected to the gallery were it’s very life blood.
So in 1977 Orange had a vibrant “Friends” with Fred Dobbin as it’s 1st President; “Volunteer Guides”, Mitchell College giving lectures free gratis; and an “Advisory Committee to Council” with yet another bunch of “switched on” Orange people. And - all this with no real gallery.
Nearly ten years later, when we made a perfect nuisance of ourselves in the forum, the resulting Library/Gallery Building was taking shape, the time was right for the development of a FOUNDATION. AND, as the Orange Festival of Arts: 1965 - 1989, with it’s charter “to bring the best of the arts to the country” was the catalyst to all the arts development in the city, it seemed appropriate for it to support ALL professional arts, not just the gallery.
Peter Raffin, at that time was a member of the Kings School Council and an inaugural member of their Foundation. But going back to when I married him in 1955 he was on 17 Community Committees; some I didn’t know, but Chamber of Commerce, Junior Legacy, Olympic Pool, Apex Board, Tech. College Committee, Rugby Union, Cricket Club were some, and later he started a Building Society, helped create Trinity Pre-School, develop the Squash Club, then Councilor on Orange Council incl. Chair of the Finance Committee. (Any wonder I know the wrong Raffin received the OAM).
As a vibrant rumour was circulating the town re Raffo “pushing drugs” – he decided he’d had enough and resigned from all – taking his interests to the city of Sydney. But when I asked him please, could he help me set up a Foundation, he reluctantly agreed; and in my ignorance I thought that if I went with him that I would be able to ask people to contribute – too. But Oh So Wrong; people give to people, and I was right behind the eight ball.
So it is thanks to Raffo, that as the bricks at mortar were taking shape that the seeds were sown – and may we both congratulate all the very special people who are taking it further, and making Orange an even more wonderful place to be, AND to live.
- Jane Raffin