Friends and colleagues of Greater Victoria philanthropist and arts patron Eric Charman began a bursary fund in his name last year for students at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. The goal is to see the fund grow to $1 million by Charman’s 90th birthday in 2022. Photo by Hugo Wong

Charman’s name will live on through Victoria Conservatory of Music bursary fund

Iconic arts patron Eric Charman thrilled to see financial assistance fund growing

Eric Charman has long had a soft spot for young people looking to enhance their learning of music and other fine arts.

That penchant to help out has not been lost on his friends and colleagues, who last year, on the occasion of the arts patron and philanthropist’s 85th birthday, surprised him by giving a head start to a new bursary fund for Victoria Conservatory of Music students that would come from the Charman Foundation for Young Musicians.

Created as a way to reflect his lifelong commitment to music and his devotion to supporting emerging young musicians, the fund has grown to about $350,000 and this year at the VCM’s year-end awards ceremony, the first bursaries were handed out, totalling $12,000.

“I’m very pleased with what the conservatory is doing,” said Charman, who has long been a supporter of the school. “And I’m very pleased with my friends starting this fund.”

Those initial donations of $5,000 and $10,000, in some cases, provided a significant nest egg. With matching funds provided by the Egon Baumann Music Foundation, the fund’s total was pushed over the $180,000 mark.

And with the help of the Victoria Foundation, the fledgling fund applied for and received Canada Cultural Endowment Incentive Program funding to the tune of $118,000.

Jane Butler McGregor, CEO of the Conservatory of Music, said the fund is a perfect way to honour a man she called “the undisputed chief rallying force for the arts in Victoria for the past 60 years.”

“Eric’s fund will assist young students and their families who require financial support to pursue their musical education at the VCM,” she said.

“In other words, it will give students the opportunity to pursue their music interests who otherwise would never have had the chance. It is a remarkable gift to our VCM students in honour of a remarkable man.”

With matching dollars still available through the Canada Cultural Endowment Incentive Program, the goal is to reach $1 million by 2022, an objective unveiled this year to the fund’s namesake.

“They said to me, ‘let’s see if we can make this $1 million by your 90th birthday,’” Charman said.

An appeal letter has gone out to the founding donors to try and keep the momentum going for the fund, but the public is also welcome to contribute.

For more information, contact the Conservatory at 250-386-5311 or email chief development officer Lara McDonald at mcdonald@vcm.bc.ca.

editor@vicnews.com

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