Terry Whitehead with the Arts Club’s Artistic Managing Director, Bill Millerd.
- How did you first become involved with the Arts Club?
I moved to Vancouver in 2005 to join the Arts Club as the first Director of Development. I recall being so impressed with the company for multiple reasons: reputation for artistic excellence; entrepreneurial vision of the leadership team; the passionate donors and corporate partners; and the loyal and long-serving staff who had been with the company for many years. There was (and still is!) something very special about the Arts Club and the people involved.
I enjoyed my tenure as an employee and when I left the company to pursue a new career in executive search, it was a very difficult decision. I have been a subscriber, a member of the ADC, and a corporate partner ever since.
- Why do you think it’s important to support the arts philanthropically?
The arts can impact us every day throughout our lives. Artists tell our stories, record our histories, share our culture, and force us to engage in challenging discussions about life and society. Often, artistic expression can simply entertain us and bring people together when we need it most. For those in a position to do so, supporting the arts as a donor is important to ensure future generations enjoy this shared experience. Canadian artists—playwrights, actors, directors, painters, novelists, musicians, filmmakers—are world renowned, and supporting these artists and the institutions that promote them is critical to telling the world about Canada.
- Are there any outreach or education programs that are particularly close to your heart?
I am particularly proud of LEAP. When I was on staff, I approached Bill Millerd, Howard Jang, and Rachel Ditor about creating a program to encourage youth to get interested in playwriting. I had worked with a similar program at another theatre company earlier in my career and had witnessed the power of engaging young people in telling stories relevant to them in the form of one-act plays. Students worked with professional playwrights who helped them develop a one-act play that would then later be read at a staged reading in front of family and friends. At the time, the Arts Club was focused on developing new programs to reach younger people, so this idea really fit.
I attend as many LEAP readings as possible every March, and I am amazed by the poignancy, the humour, and the insightful intelligence from these high school playwrights. This program remains a highlight of my career in fundraising.
- I know you support the Arts Club on an annual basis as an ADC member, but why a legacy gift?
I am proud to pledge a legacy gift to the Arts Club, although I’m hopeful I don’t honour that pledge for a long, long time! Again, I think it is important to help ensure the Arts Club thrives and continues to present the high quality of work for future generations. It’s also a way to say thank you to an organization that has been so important to me. Without the Arts Club and the talented people involved, there would be a deep void in my life.
- Given your involvement with the Arts Club, is there anything you have learned about the Arts Club that you think would surprise our patrons?
I’m not sure that after 51 years of operation there are many surprises! One thing people might not realize or appreciate about the Arts Club is just how business savvy the leaders are—the dedicated members of the Board, Bill Millerd, former Board Chair Stan Hamilton, Executive Director Peter Cathie White, and his predecessor, Howard Jang, just to name a few. There is an enormous amount of business acumen and creative problem solving that can be directly attributed to these individuals and many others over the years. Not-for-profit organizations have limited resources and have to steward them carefully and creatively to survive and grow. I think a lot of leaders in the for-profit sector can learn a few things from arts administrators!
- Lastly, what are you most looking forward to this season?
I look forward to another great season of theatre and the ADC events. One show, Disgraced, was high on my list of anticipated plays to see and the opening night performance in September was fantastic. I love theatre that is dramatic, intelligent, and challenges audiences. Going for a glass of wine after a play like Disgraced and debating the themes and ideas is always fun.
I also look to have another shot at the annual croquet championship next summer at the donor appreciation event. My team came in second this past summer, amid great controversy! We will return next year…
Terry Whitehead is the Managing Partner at Alexander Whitehead Executive Search, an Arts Club legacy donor, and a member of the Artistic Director’s Circle.
October is Planned Giving Month! If you are interested in attending a planned giving seminar on October 28 or 31, please email kmackenzie[at]artsclub.com or visit our website for details.