Remembering Jini Stolk
by Claire Hopkinson, Director & CEO
I am completely heartbroken to share this obituary for my very dear friend, Jini Stolk, who we lost too soon on August 25, 2022. Jini loved artists and all those who made the arts thrive. She was a positive, formidable and persistent arts champion who spent her entire life strengthening the arts ecosystem in Toronto. I personally enjoyed collaborating with Jini on numerous projects, boards and organizations over the past thirty years …and I do mean enjoyed! Jini was a lot of fun to work with.
With a career spanning over five decades, she worked with numerous organizations – as the first General Manager of Open Studio, an artist-run printmaking centre, as Associate Director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, Executive Director of the Toronto Theatre Alliance (now Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts) which she led for 10 years, Executive Director, Toronto Dance Theatre. One of our many fruitful collaborations was on the concept and realization of Creative Trust, wherein Jini took the lead, developing a thoughtful and intensive sustainability program and raising and distributing more than six million dollars to support the sustainability of over 50 small and medium sized performing arts organizations. This was the largest project of its kind in Canada, and a first for being led by arts leaders.
Jini’s long and meaningful association with Toronto Arts Foundation started 10 years ago, in 2012, when she was appointed as the inaugural Toronto Arts Foundation Creative Trust Fellow. In her capacity as the Creative Trust Fellow, she shared her learnings through blogs for our website which were read by a wide audience - producers, funders, researchers, board members and those interested in the sustainability of the arts. This knowledge-sharing evolved into a more hands-on approach, to help shape better boards for Toronto’s arts sector through engaged and knowledgeable board members, leading to the birth of Creative Champions Network (CCN). Under Jini’s leadership CCN grew to become a major resource sharing platform for Toronto’s 2000+ arts board members, where they could come together to share experiences, and learn from leading experts about the arts of good governance. After seven years as the Creative Champions Lead, and playing a pivotal role in the growth of the program, Jini stepped down at the beginning of 2022.
Jini also served on many arts boards. She was an invaluable board member of Toronto Arts Council, the Chair of Artscape, an early tenant board member of the Centre for Social Innovation, a founding member and the first Chair of the Ontario Nonprofit Network and at her death she was the Chair of the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair. She was the recipient of multiple awards for her service to the arts, including our own William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Cultural Life. As news of her passing rippled through the community, messages of shock and loss have been continual. Current and former board and staff members of both TAC and the Foundation have noted her contributions to Toronto and our arts community. While she will be terribly missed her memory will be deeply treasured.
She leaves behind her husband and best friend of 42 years John Gladki, daughters of whom she was wonderfully proud, Kasia Gladki and Sarah Gladki, sons-in-law Fraser and Jonas, four beautiful grandchildren — Elise, Sasza, Ariel and Alistair, as well as numerous relatives across the U.S.
Following a private funeral there will be a Celebration of Life at Wychwood Barns on Sunday, September 11 between 4 - 6 p.m. Her family has requested, in lieu of flowers, to please make a donation to the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Sistering or a small or medium arts organization of your choice.
With appreciation for a life well lived,
Claire Hopkinson, M.S.M.,
Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation