Remembering Winnipeg Arts Council’s Beloved Chair Emeritus Laird Rankin

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The Winnipeg Arts Council was devastated to learn about Laird Rankin’s sudden passing on June 19. Laird joined the WAC Board in 2006 and his special and deep connection to the Winnipeg Arts Council prompted the organization to bestow upon him the title of Chair Emeritus in May 2016.

Laird made many visits to City Hall to address Standing Committee and the Executive Policy Committee on both budget and the corporate plan, and to meet with individual Councillors on behalf of the Winnipeg Arts Council. He spoke on behalf of the organization at countless public art openings and other events, as well as presenting the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award annually at the Manitoba Book Awards for as long as anyone has been keeping track. 

Between 2006 and 2017, Laird missed a total of three Board meetings. He sent regrets once in 2007 and once in 2008, and then his attendance record was perfect until February 2016 when his family sent him to New York for his birthday so he could attend the Metropolitan Opera.

The staff and Board felt an uncommon affinity and bond with him. Laird was a staunch defender of the arts in all its forms. His easy banter and shrewd observations showed his genuine interest and support of the Winnipeg arts community. When Laird would inevitably arrive early for a Board meeting or public art opening, the staff were thrilled because it meant that we each could have a moment with him to exchange thoughts on recent arts events, local news or travels (both his and ours). Laird was smart, witty and accomplished in so many areas and we are deeply grateful for his time with us. His eloquent words, grace, and sense of humour will be remembered. We miss him already. We extend our deepest sympathies to his sons, Matthew and Scott, and his family.

Link to Laird's obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press