Rich Lister Terry Snow’s $20M Gift Transforms Canberra Grammar School with Snow Concert Hall

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In a remarkable act of philanthropy, Rich Lister Terry Snow’s $20 million gift breathes new life into education and culture, reshaping Canberra Grammar School with the awe-inspiring Snow Concert Hall.

Terry Snow, a prominent 79-year-old Rich Lister and the owner of Canberra Airport has made a significant philanthropic gesture, donating a staggering $20 million to Canberra Grammar School. The generous gift aims to construct the magnificent Snow Concert Hall, a world-class venue hosting acclaimed international performances. Despite criticism for supporting a private school, Terry Snow remains resolute in his decision and is pleased with the outcome.

Criticism Met with Gratitude

The announcement of Terry Snow’s remarkable donation in 2019 drew praise and criticism. While many appreciated his substantial contribution, the Australian Education Union’s branch in the Australian Capital Territory raised concerns about the inequity between private and public schools. Undeterred, Terry Snow focused on the positive impact his donation would have on education and music within the community.

In a recent statement, he expressed his gratitude, saying, “There’s been a bit of criticism about me giving money to a private school, but I think we have to have a high-water mark in whatever we do.” He firmly believes in the power of setting ambitious standards, drawing inspiration from prestigious institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard.

Investing in Education and Culture

Terry Snow’s $20 million donation to Canberra Grammar School has not only facilitated the construction of the Snow Concert Hall but has also provided 15 scholarships for First Nations students, promoting diversity and inclusivity in education.

The Snow Concert Hall, designed by Cox Architecture with impeccable acoustics by Marshall Day Acoustics, has already proven its worth as it welcomed world-renowned Australian flautist Ana de la Vega, Hall’s inaugural artistic director, and the esteemed pianist Piers Lane for captivating performances.

A Musical Marvel in the Heart of Canberra

The Snow Concert Hall is set to host its first name from outside the classical music circles – the renowned American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his 15-piece Jazz At Lincoln Centre Orchestra. 

The concerts, scheduled for August, will also include a masterclass for talented music students from Canberra Grammar and beyond. Marsalis decided to have Canberra on his Australian tour schedule from glowing word-of-mouth reviews about the hall’s exceptional acoustics.

Ana de la Vega expressed her enthusiasm for the upcoming performances, stating, “We’ve got the honeypot, and the bees will come.”

A Transformative Legacy

Terry Snow’s philanthropic contributions to Canberra Grammar School extend beyond the Snow Concert Hall. In 2013, he donated $8 million to his alma mater, funding establishing an “Asian century” studies centre. This earlier gift played a vital role in the school’s transformation, as it became co-educational in 2016, allowing girls to attend for the first time.

Mr Snow remarked, “It was the headmaster’s decision – and maybe the school board’s too, I wasn’t there – but it was the right one.” 

He emphasised that his donations were not conditional on the school’s decision to become co-educational. Still, he acknowledged that having girls around would have enriched his experience at Canberra Grammar School.

A Changing Landscape of Philanthropy

Terry Snow’s recent act of benevolence signifies a growing trend among philanthropists who are increasingly focusing on supporting private schools. With the uncertainty surrounding government funding and rising education fees, private institutions are seeking alternative avenues of financial support to enhance their facilities and educational offerings.

Mr Snow predicted that more philanthropists might choose to contribute to private schools in the future, highlighting the importance of community engagement in education.

A Personal Contribution

Unlike his other philanthropic endeavours, Terry Snow’s contributions to Canberra Grammar School have been made directly from him and not through his charitable vehicles, the Snow Foundation and the Snow Medical Foundation. 

These foundations, established with his brother George, have significantly impacted various causes, with the Snow Foundation’s corpus now amounting to $145 million and the Snow Medical Foundation providing over $100 million in support to medical research teams.

As the Snow Concert Hall continues to host world-class performances and foster a thriving cultural community, Terry Snow’s generous gift stands as a testament to the transformative power of philanthropy in education and the arts.


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