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Armstrong and Arthur Charitable Trust for Lesbians

2001 –

This essay written by Frances Kell was published online in Women together: a history of women's organisations in New Zealand in 2019.

The Armstrong and Arthur Charitable Trust for Lesbians was established in 2001 by Bea Arthur (1915–2002). It was named for Bea and her late partner of 57 years, Bette Armstrong (1909–2000). The purpose of the trust is to support lesbian communities in the Wellington region. There may be up to 10 trustees at any one time.

Bea was herself a foundation trustee, and she personally selected eight other lesbians as foundation trustees. Two of them were also members of DOODs (Dykes Out Of Debt), a group which raised funds to help lesbians and their communities in Wellington. Bette and Bea were very supportive of DOODs and enjoyed their fund-raising dances. The trust provided funds through DOODs to support Lesbian Line and the Wellington Lesbian Community Radio Programme from January 2002 to March 2006, when DOODs ceased activity.

The trust’s capital came from the original settlement by Bea, bequests from her estate and those of other Wellington lesbians, and donations. From 2005, the net income from investment of the capital was used to provide financial support for a variety of activities in the Wellington region. The prevailing investment interest rates determined the level of funding available for grants, and whether one or two funding rounds were held in any given year.

Between 2005 and 2019, the trust granted more than $150,000 to organisations, events and activities of benefit to lesbians and lesbian communities in the Wellington region. Recipients and activities included broadcast fees for Wellington Lesbian Community Radio, rent for the Lesbian Information, Library and Archives Centre (LILAC), specific production-related costs for theatre productions, art exhibitions and the Reel Queer Film Festival, and specific operating costs for community events and communications.

At the annual Wellington Rainbow or Pride events, Out In The Square and its successor, Out In The Park, information was provided about the trust and its activities, and postcards and occasional cards, featuring photos of Bette and Bea and reproductions of a few of their paintings, were sold to raise funds.

The trust is a registered charity, and its annual reports are posted on its website:

Frances Kell