Walter Carsen (1912-2012)

2000 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

Walter Carsen is one of the most beloved patrons on the Canadian arts scene today. He has provided more than a quarter-century of loyal and dedicated support of the performing and visual arts in Canada, and his legendary generosity and good will have earned him the affectionate nickname "Care Bear."

Mr. Carsen's philanthropy is unmatched in the history of The National Ballet of Canada. Since he first underwrote The Taming of the Shrew in 1992, marking the first time in the history of the arts in Canada that a complete production had been funded by a single individual or corporation, he has personally financed several more productions, and for the upcoming season he will be the Canadian producer of the company's new production of Stravinsky's The Firebird, choreographed by James Kudelka and co-produced with The American Ballet Theater and the Houston Ballet. In 1995 he sponsored The National Ballet School's Artist-in-Residence Program, and in 1996 his lead gift of $1.5 million spearheaded the campaign for the creation of the company's new home, The Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada. In April 2000 he made a $500,000 matching gift to The National Ballet, launching a one-million-dollar fundraising campaign entitled Inspired by Walter Carsen.

In addition to his unprecedented support for The National Ballet, Walter Carsen is a loyal and dedicated benefactor of the Shaw Festival, the Art Galleries of Ontario, Hamilton and Windsor, the Desrosiers Dance Theatre, and countless other cultural projects.

An avid art collector, he has donated over 150 pieces to the Art Gallery of Ontario and made gifts to other institutions across Canada and around the world.

Walter Carsen was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994.