It seems to me that irresolution is the most common of faults, for instance the famous verse of Publius the wit: Malum consilium est, quod mutari non potest. (Poor is the plan that cannot be changed.)”

-Montaigne

Georges & Sherif Laoun

2006 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

The family business of Georges Laoun Opticien is well known in Montreal's arts community. For over 15 years, the company has been supporting the arts through donations and sponsorships, fostering and promoting the work of local theatre, dance, and visual artists. This generous tradition—a happy combination of keen business sense and a passion for the arts—is the brainchild of the father and son team of Georges and Sherif Laoun.

Georges Laoun was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1926 and moved to Montreal in 1969. After working in business partnerships for a few years he decided to set up shop on his own, and in 1983 he opened the first Georges Laoun Opticien.

After obtaining a B.A. from Carleton University, Sherif Laoun discovered the behind-the-scenes world of contemporary theatre in the late 1980s. Instantly captivated by its creative possibilities, inspired by the dedication and hard work of its artists and technicians, he approached his father for seed money for a new theatre work. Despite the growing demands of the family business (a second store had just opened), Georges agreed to back the project... and thus began a series of partnerships with Montreal artists and arts organizations, including the Théâtre Il va sans dire, Pigeon International, the Théâtre de Quat'Sous, Momentum, Carbone 14, Transthéâtre, Le Pont Bridge, Théâtre ESP, UBU, compagnie de création, and the Théâtre d'aujourd'hui. As well, the Saint Denis Street store serves as a gallery for regular exhibitions of work by Montreal visual artists, and Georges Laoun Opticien allocates over 4% of its revenues to sponsorships, an initiative that Sherif Laoun oversees with enthusiasm and commitment. He is particularly proud of having supported the early work of artists who now are well established. The Laouns' 2006–07 roster includes, among others, Carole Nadeau of Le Pont Bridge, Théâtre Galiléo's Ikaria, and Pierre-Paul Savoie Danse.

Sherif Laoun is a former Board Chair of the Théâtre de Quat'Sous and a former director of the Théâtre Il va sans dire and Vie des arts magazine. Georges Laoun and his wife Phina are the proud parents of four children (all involved in the family business) and grandparents of seven grandchildren, one of whom is the apple of Sherif's eye.