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Magnum Foundation & The Atlantic Philanthropies Present: “Laying Foundations for Change”

Two years ago, The Atlantic Philanthropies approached the Magnum Foundation with a unique challenge. Atlantic is a limited life foundation, and it operated anonymously for much of its existence. With its doors soon closing, Atlantic asked the MF to help make accessible the lessons Atlantic had learned about capital giving and to give visual form to the “giving while living” philosophy of Atlantic’s founder.  

Together, the Magnum Foundation and Atlantic developed a plan that would help document the impact of Atlantic’s more than $2.5 billion of charitable capital investments on five continents. Part of that plan involved supporting regional photographic communities. By engaging 25 emerging photographers from South Africa, Vietnam, Northern Ireland and the United States to work with - and alongside - established mentors, the Magnum Foundation and Atlantic sought to make a human capital investment in regional photographic talent that mirrored Atlantic’s long history of philanthropic support in the areas of education, health, youth, and aging.

  The Climate Façade, a unique ventilation system at the Engineering Building, NUI Galway, Republic of Ireland. (Photo: Donovan Wylie / Magnum Photos)

The Climate Façade, a unique ventilation system at the Engineering Building, NUI Galway, Republic of Ireland. (Photo: Donovan Wylie / Magnum Photos)

  Augustine Leudar conducts research on complex electronic signals in plants and spatial audio at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo: Andrew Rankin / Magnum Foundation)

Augustine Leudar conducts research on complex electronic signals in plants and spatial audio at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo: Andrew Rankin / Magnum Foundation)

The resulting two-volume book, Laying Foundations for Change, functions as a starting point for important conversations about effective philanthropic practices. Over the course of the year, a series of events will be held around the world to enable members of the philanthropic community to engage with the issues presented. An online version of the book is downloadable for free on the project website, layingfoundationsforchange.org.  Individual visual stories produced during the making of the book will also be told in greater depth online in the coming months.

At the Magnum Foundation, we continue to experiment with how photography can serve the goal of generating positive social change. Laying Foundations for Change represents a major undertaking in that regard, and constitutes a powerful argument for photography’s ability to tell different kinds of socially oriented stories in a compelling and engaging way.

Katerina Voegtle