Joan Chalmers (1928 – 2016)

I have always believed that art should be at the cutting edge of social change and that it is the artist’s duty to speak to the ills and injustices of our society…. Without the arts, this world would be a poorer place, and I would be a pauper…. I never tire of the work. And … I will continue to serve the arts and the artists of this country for as long as they will have me. It’s in my blood.
– Joan Chalmers, interview with Betty Ann Jordan

Margaret Joan Chalmers, Canadian philanthropist and champion of the arts, passed away December 5th, 2016. She was 88.

A tireless advocate of the arts, Joan was integral as a founding board member of the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, as well as the Ontario Crafts Council and the Canadian Crafts Council, among others.

In 1972, she and her parents, Floyd and Jean Chalmers, founded the annual Chalmers Awards for artists in dance, theatre, crafts, film, the visual arts and music, an award that helped countless artists achieve their goals.

Her philanthropy was recognized many times, including promotion to Companion of the Order of Canada (1992), recipient of the Order of Ontario (1994), and the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts in the Outstanding Contribution category (2001).

“Joan was a founding member of the board of the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund. She was integral to the development of the Fund, now in its 17th year,” said John McKellar, OCAF Chair.  “Joan was a trailblazer in every sense of the word and we were honoured to have been able to work with her on OCAF in its early years. We will miss her wit, wisdom and generosity very much.”

On her 70th birthday in 1998, Joan announced that she would provide 20 arts groups with a total of $1 million in funding.

A memorial for family and close friends will be announced soon.  In lieu of flowers or donations, Joan wished to be remembered by  supporting the arts – give what you can to your favourite artist or arts organization. Attend concerts, performances and exhibitions.  Participate and give.