Reputation is more lasting than wealth; a good reputation is great wealth.”

-Eric Charman

Carl Bessai - A Charman Event
Carl Bessai is an award-winning feature and documentary film director. His latest feature, Normal (2007), was named Best Western Canadian Feature Film, Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). He also directed Unnatural and Accidental (2006, Women in Film Award and Special Jury Award, VIFF); Severed (2005), an eco-horror art-house zombie film; Émile (2003, two Genie nominations, Geraldine Page Award, L.A. Methodfest); and Johnny, the hit of the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival. Documentaries include Out of Orbit, about Marshall McLuhan (Silver Spire, 2000 San Francisco Film Festival). Carl is on the board of the Whistler Film Festival and The First Weekend Club, and a member of the Directors' Guild of Canada, the Writers' Guild of Canada, and the Canadian Film and Television Producers' Association.

Eric Charman (1932-2020)

2008 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

A formidable and irresistible fundraiser, Eric Charman has liberally donated his time, expertise and financial support to numerous cultural and community organizations in Victoria, making personal appeals, organizing, hosting and funding benefit events, and acting as a celebrity auctioneer. He believes passionately in the importance of the arts in his community and regularly features emerging artists at the events he organizes, giving them valuable exposure and boosting their careers.

Eric Charman was born to a single mother in England in 1932 and grew up in a series of orphanages and foster homes, where the music he heard on the radio was often his closest companion—and sparked his passion for the arts. (He found his mother when he was 65 and she was 82.) He emigrated to Victoria in 1953, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1960, and launched a successful career in real estate.

Over the past 50 years Mr. Charman has organized literally hundreds of charity events, each one imprinted with his characteristic élan, and raised millions of dollars for local arts organizations, particularly the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria Symphony, Victoria Conservatory of Music and Pacific Opera Victoria.

Leading by example, he has inspired hundreds of his fellow citizens to join his crusade for the arts. “It’s a wonderful feeling to see the happy faces, to feel the enthusiasm around a successful event,” he says. “It is so essential to get involved, to give back to the community.”

He has served on countless boards and committees, and is currently Chair, Victoria Symphony Foundation; Honorary Governor, Victoria Foundation; and Director, State Hermitage Museum Foundation of Canada. In his spare time he enjoys boating, fishing, gardening and cooking (“my apple and blackberry crumble is one of my trademarks,” he reveals).

Awards and honours include Member of the Order of Canada (2000); Generosity of Spirit Award (2004); Queen’s Jubilee Medal (2003); Member of the Order of British Columbia (1999); Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (1997); Honorary Citizen, City of Victoria (1995); Edmund C. Bovey Award for Leadership Support of the Arts (1993); honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria.