The National Ballet of Canada Mourns the Death of its Greatest Patron Walter Carsen, O.C.
October 10, 2012… The National Ballet of Canada’s greatest patron Walter Carsen, O.C. passed away peacefully at the age of 100 in Toronto on October 8, 2012. Artistic Director Karen Kain expressed the deep sadness felt throughout the entire company.
“The National Ballet of Canada, in its entire history, has only ever had one patron like Walter Carsen. He helped us achieve what we wanted to do,” said Ms. Kain. “He was an inspiration through his generosity, leadership and great enthusiasm and he was also a great friend to the company. He was unfailingly in the audience at almost every performance and was a warm and encouraging presence for the dancers both backstage and in the rehearsal room. He will be deeply missed by every member of the National Ballet, dancers and staff alike.”
Mr. Carsen’s generosity is unequalled in the history of The National Ballet of Canada. He underwrote 12 new productions for the National Ballet – Musings (1991), The Taming of the Shrew (1992), Romeo and Juliet (1995), the full evening programme Inspired by Gould (1999), The Firebird (2000), The Contract (the Pied Piper) (2002), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (2004), In The Night and West Side Story Suite (2007), In The Upper Room (2008), Watch her (2009) and Romeo and Juliet (2011). In 1996, Mr. Carsen gave the lead gift in the company’s capital campaign to build its new home named in his honour, The Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada. He supported the 1998 tour to New York City and in 2000, Mr. Carsen launched a successful $1 million fundraising campaign for the National Ballet entitled “Inspired by Walter Carsen”, matching every dollar raised up to $500,000. In 2005, Mr. Carsen instigated a matching campaign of $100,000 to help The National Ballet of Canada meet its Next Stage Campaign goal. In the fall of 2006, Mr. Carsen initiated a $100,000 matching campaign towards new productions.
Mr. Carsen also supported the Shaw Festival, the Art Galleries of Ontario, Hamilton and Windsor plus arts projects such as Toronto’s The Glory of Mozart Festival.
In 1993, Walter Carsen was one of four winners of the second annual Montblanc de la Culture, winning the award in the “Philanthropic Statement” section. The awards were presented in a ceremony on the stage of the Opéra Comique in Paris. In 1995, Mr. Carsen was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2002 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He became an honourary member of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association in 1997 and received an honourary degree from York University in 2005.
In 2001, he created the annual Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, administered by the Canada Council and worth $50,000. In addition to his arts philanthropy Mr. Carsen also established the Walter Carsen Fund for the Homeless within the United Way’s endowment The Tomorrow Fund.
Donations in Mr. Carsen’s memory can be made to The Walter Carsen New Creations Fund within The National Ballet of Canada Endowment Foundation.
The National Ballet of Canada gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Ontario Arts Council; the City of Toronto through the Economic Development & Culture Department; the Government of Canada through the Honourable James Moore, Minister, the Department of Canadian Heritage; the Government of Ontario; the Ontario Trillium Foundation.