Catherine Duval-Russell | Featured Donor
“I hope that everyone will have the chance to express themselves through art, no matter how young or old they are, and that this will trigger in them some sympathy and appreciation for all artists.”
A long-time donor and supporter of the arts and Unwrap Theatre, Catherine Duval-Russell tells us about her love of the arts and why she continues to support arts organizations in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Why do you think the arts are important?
“The Arts are the most creative expression and communication of humans’ feelings, longings and inner selves. Without the Arts there would be less beauty around us; we would gain fewer insights about the world around us and into the hearts and minds of others; we would have difficulty to see beyond our everyday life.”
Why do you support the arts?
“Because the arts are such a source of joy and happiness in my life. After I retired, I found out that a very small percentage of individual giving in Canada goes to the Arts and Culture sector. I learned also that non-profit art organizations must demonstrate strong support from their community in order to get grants from our various government levels. This information prompted me to give back to my new community (I moved to Waterloo in 2012) by donating as generously as I could to art organizations, and through volunteering for a few music organizations.”
What’s your favourite part of supporting the arts?
“I like how a performance or a work of art expands my perceptions of beauty and esthetics. It excites me when I can meet performers and creators in person and they describe what inspired them to perform, create or write what they did. Also, I feel much gratitude for the musicians who give a lot of their time to teach young children and teenagers, and like to show my appreciation in tangible ways. For many years, I had the pleasure of meeting many local music teachers who came with their students to perform at the Love of Music Marathon, an annual day of concerts by amateur and professional musicians who performed to raise money for the KW Symphony.”
Is there a specific performance over the years that’s really stuck with you?
“The summer that I turned 20 years old, I went with my choir to Vaison-la-Romaine (Provence) to an international choral week (we slept in big white tents). All registered choirs were asked to learn the same repertoire in preparation for these “Choralies”. I had the chance to sing with 5,000 other chorists in a “Theatre Antique” every evening. A different choir director stood in the middle of the stage, named a song (without microphone, the acoustics is great) and conducted us. I had never heard so many people sing the same song in four voices a cappella before, nor have I ever experienced as peaceful a sense of human togetherness since.
“One evening, the director picked “La Scène”, composed by Claude Léveillée, a popular artist born in Montréal. To sing this song by an artist from my own province with 4,999 other chorists in this Antique Roman Theatre felt like a dream. Decades later I can still hear it when I close my eyes: “Un jour, attends, je me rappelle…”. The sound still fills me with joy.”
What’s something you would like to see change in our region?
“My hope is not just for our region, it is for all of our country. I hope that we can let go of some preconceived notions about the arts being for the “elite” or “not as needed as STEM”. I hope that everyone will have the chance to express themselves through art, no matter how young or old they are, and that this will trigger in them some sympathy and appreciation for all artists.”
What does Unwrap Theatre mean to you?
“Unwrap Theatre is an intriguing window on the future of Arts. It challenges my old notions and makes me optimistic that the Arts will continue to evolve and delight us despite AI and whatever new high tech and scientific trends.”