Remembering Kathleen Richardson

The Winnipeg Arts Council is so sorry to hear of Kathleen Richardson’s passing. When the Winnipeg Arts Council first started giving out awards in 2007, Miss Richardson was our inaugural Arts Champion. Ever the quiet philanthropist, she refused to comment on her gifts and eschewed most forms of public recognition. When she allowed her name to stand for the Arts Champion Award, Miss Richardson did so not for personal recognition, but to serve as an example for others. We felt privileged that she often joined us at the Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts to celebrate the talent and skill of Winnipeg’s arts community. Winnipeg's vibrant artistic landscape can be attributed in large part to her involvement with all the cultural organizations that this city has come to cherish.

It is not an overstatement to say that several organizations would not be the same if it had not been for Kathleen Richardson’s remarkable impact. Her recorded and significant involvement in support of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre dates back to 1957 when she purchased what was then known as the Dominion Theatre. She encouraged the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to take risks with new ballet repertoire, thus allowing choreographers and dancers the opportunity to create new art. Her life-long love of orchestral music was well-known, and she had been a long-standing supporter of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for more than four decades. It was her suggestion that James Richardson & Sons Limited celebrate its 150 years in business by making an unprecedented gift of $1 million dollars to the WSO, RWB, Royal MTC and Manitoba Opera. This included the lead gift of $250,000 for the development of Manitoba Opera’s original opera, Transit of Venus.

Carol Phillips, Executive Director, Winnipeg Arts Council:  All during my tenure (1985-1992) as director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Miss Richardson was a member of the Winnipeg Art Gallery Board. The most considerate and generous of donors, she always sought advice as to where the greatest need might be. From essentially establishing the Arts and Crafts dimension of the Decorative Arts Collection (an area she personally loved) to supporting major contemporary purchases, along with annual operating gifts, Miss Richardson was the personification of the “Arts Champion.” How extraordinary to be able to work with her side by side. I will treasure her memory always.

Our condolences to Kathleen Richardson’s family. We hope you are comforted by the outpouring of love and appreciation for her. She will always be remembered for her kindness and generosity and the respectful way she championed artists.

Photo by William Eakin.

Miss Richardson with playwright Ian Ross at the Mayor's Luncheon for the Arts 2007.