The Ring

Audain’s $2-million gift a boon to visual arts

Fri, 2009-05-01 13:00

A picture of Michael Audain
Audain. Photo: UVic Photo Services

Visual Arts students at the University of Victoria will benefit from a $2-million gift from BC art philanthropist Michael Audain and the Audain Foundation. The gift will establish the Audain Professorship in Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest, bringing a distinguished practicing artist to teach in UVic’s Department of Visual Arts.

The Faculty of Fine Arts recognized the gift at a naming ceremony in the Visual Arts Building on April 17. The main public gathering and exhibition space in the building was named the Audain Gallery and Atrium.

“The generosity of Michael Audain will have a tremendous impact on our ability to attract the most promising students to our visual arts program,” says UVic President David Turpin. “It will support our goals to advance the study, teaching and exhibition of contemporary and traditional art of the Pacific Northwest and also strengthen all of UVic’s arts education programs.”

“As a former UVic student in the early 1960’s, back when it was called Victoria College, I have marveled at how UVic has become one of our country’s top universities. At the same time it is good to know that UVic respects its roots by widening educational opportunities for First Nations students, and that the arts continue to play a prominent role in campus life,” says Audain.

Audain, great grandson of James Dunsmuir, attended Victoria College from 1959 to 1960 and is the chairman of Polygon Homes Ltd. A philanthropist and businessman, Audain is the chairman of the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts in British Columbia and chair of the National Gallery of Canada. He is a generous supporter of visual arts and culture in BC and throughout Canada, with a specific interest in Aboriginal and contemporary art. Audain is dedicated to raising awareness of Canada’s artists and is an avid art collector.

“This wonderful gift will provide our students the opportunity to work side-by-side with some of Canada’s most outstanding contemporary artists,” says Dean of Fine Arts Dr. Sarah Blackstone. “These opportunities will enrich our learning environment immeasurably.”

This generous gift will help foster UVic’s commitment to to providing all visual arts students with the very best training in contemporary art practice. In particular, the Audain Professorship will help foster the artistic talent of UVic’s Aboriginal students in an environment that honors their artistic traditions.