Michael M. Koerner
2015 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts
Michael Koerner is one of Canada’s most influential and dedicated patrons of the arts. In a philanthropic career spanning 50 years, he has supported individual artists and new and established companies across the country (notably through The Koerner Foundation, which he established in 1985), and has tirelessly advocated the vital role of the arts in the lives of Canadians.
Born in Prague, Czech Republic, Michael Koerner was educated at Cheltenham, England and in Vancouver. He holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BSc in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of which he is a life trustee.
The organizations he has supported include The Royal Conservatory of Music, Art Gallery of Ontario, Shaw Festival, Soulpepper Theatre and The Banff Centre. He was instrumental in the creation of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
, published in English and French. He also supports medical research focusing on brain functionality and hearing, at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, at Sunnybrook Hospital and at UBC.
He has a particularly close connection to The Royal Conservatory. Most notably, The Koerner Foundation provided funding for Koerner Hall, a spectacular 1,135 seat concert venue designed to showcase the talents of Conservatory students and attract leading performers from around the world. Opened in 2009, the Hall has won praise for its superb acoustics, warm atmosphere and architectural beauty, and has brought great joy to artists and audiences alike. As well, Michael and Sonja Koerner donated their collection of antique musical instruments, which are displayed in the building’s atrium. In 2011, Mr. Koerner was installed as the Conservatory’s first chancellor.
“I’m interested in helping people create
art,” he says. “You can’t have performing arts without creativity, so the first thing one should support is creativity.”
Michael Koerner is a Member of the Order of Canada (1984). Other distinctions include the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals, Canadian Conference of the Arts Award, Edmund C. Bovey Award (Business for the Arts) and an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University.