Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood... Make big plans; aim high in hope and work... Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty... Think big.”

-Daniel Burnham (1846-1912), architect

The Whirlwind of Your Passion: A Philanthropist's Dream
Barbara Willis Sweete, director

A founding partner of Rhombus Media, Barbara Willis Sweete has produced and directed more than 30 films since the company's inception in 1979 and is one of the world's pre-eminent directors of music and dance films. Her directorial credits include the feature-length documentary The Young Romantic: A Portrait of Yundi Li; the International Emmy Award-winning music documentaries Concerto!, Pictures on the Edge, and the series Yo Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach; and the dramatic feature Perfect Pie. In addition to her work with Rhombus, Barbara directs the Metropolitan Opera's cinemacasts, broadcast to more than 800 theatres around the world.

James D. Fleck

2009 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

James D. Fleck is one of Canada’s most active cultural philanthropists. For over 35 years he has generously donated his time, expertise and financial support to numerous arts organizations across the country. He has enriched Canadian music, theatre, dance, visual arts and literature, and furthered the careers of such outstanding artists as ballerina Veronica Tennant and soprano Measha Brueggergosman. Dr. Fleck was born in Toronto in 1931, and earned a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario and a D.B.A. from Harvard. Along with successful careers as an entrepreneur, public servant, and business professor, he launched a fourth as an arts patron.

The organizations he has supported include the Art Gallery of Ontario (past president and chair of the building committee for the Gallery’s recent $300-million renovation), Harbourfront Centre, the National Ballet of Canada, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, The Power Plant contemporary art gallery (founding president), Soulpepper Theatre Company, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the Toronto Music Garden (inspired by Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello performed by Yo-Yo Ma), the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and the Banff Centre for the Arts.

In 1998 he chaired the inaugural session of the Canadian Arts Summit, an annual cultural leadership forum held alternately in Banff and Montreal. “In the early years there was distrust among the organizations competing for a piece of the same pie; but we realized that if we worked together to make the pie bigger, it would be better for everybody,” he recalls.

He is currently chairman of Business for the Arts and chairman of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Arts and Culture (Ontario).

In September 2008 Dr. Fleck was honoured at a gala dinner in Toronto. The proceeds were donated to LOFT Community Services for the homeless, which he matched with gifts to various arts projects.

Awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada (1997); International Society of the Performing Arts (ISPA) Angel Award (2009) for international support of the performing arts; Edmund C. Bovey Award (2003) for leadership support of the arts; Queen’s 50th Anniversary Medal (2002); an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto; and his favourite, the Tennis Canada Hall of Fame.