Donor Story: Neera Chopra
We asked Neera what motivates her to support arts and culture.
Neera Chopra smiling at the camera in front of the Toronto Arts Foundation step and repeat at The Mayor's Evening for the Arts 2023.
1. Tell us about yourself and your relationship to arts and culture.
I had the opportunity to live in Europe for over 8 years and have been lucky enough to travel the world; the one thing I found that brought us together regardless of your language or country was the ARTS. When I returned back to Toronto in 2006, I was naturally drawn to supporting Arts and Culture. Happily, there was a bit of a cultural renaissance taking place in Toronto and I was able to contribute my enthusiasm and skills in supporting artists and arts organizations; be it a museum, classical Indian Dance or innovations being brought in by artists from around the world through Luminato. Given what Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) does to create a beautiful intersection of History, Culture and Nature, I was also drawn to the ROM.
As soon as I met Claire [Hopkinson], Toronto Arts Council (TAC) and the Foundation’s dynamic CEO at the time, and learned of TAC and the Foundation’s contributions to our city and the artists it serves, I knew I had to put my efforts in supporting these amazing organizations. The two terms I’ve spent as a board member of TAC and the Foundation have been some of the most enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life and I continue to support the Foundation’s efforts.
2. What does philanthropy mean to you?
It’s a great question because often philanthropy is equated with financial support. To me, it’s about giving my time and helping Arts organizations like TAC and the Foundation achieve their mandate of supporting diverse and innovative artists who are enriching Toronto through their craft and ideas. I also give back through volunteering and was pleased to receive my 15-year Ontario Volunteer Service Award a few weeks ago.
Neera Chopra smiles in front of a lighting display supported by Nanoleaf, along with members from Indigenous Fashion Arts at The Mayor's Evening for the Arts 2023.
3. What drives you to support arts charities?
For me, it's all about helping institutions preserve our diverse cultural history for future generations and accessibility to arts for all. Our museums and arts organizations are custodians of our heritage and given the diversity of our citizens, they are all interested in seeing a piece of their heritage reflected in our national institutions. We all want to be able to celebrate our cultures, through whichever medium we connect to, while remaining true to Canadian values. I think that’s what’s going to continue to bring us together. The pivotal role TAC and the Foundation played in supporting artists through the pandemic is a testimony to the undisputable positive impact of the arts in our daily lives. It’s no secret that the arts enrich our lives and if I can support in being an ambassador for this valuable cause, I consider it a privilege.
4. What makes Toronto Arts Foundation unique, and why do you support the Foundation in particular?
The staff at TAC works really hard to identify and support a myriad of ideas and artists who have made Toronto their home. I have been privileged to have served on the board and saw first hand the excellent work that gets done. The Foundation supplements TAC through creating a platform to raise additional resources. What’s unique about the Foundation is that it can lend a hand when TAC may not have the funds for that excellent idea and its immediate impact. Arts in the Parks is a recent example of the importance of small investment that provides so much joy to all who experience it. The artists get to share their art and the public gets to enjoy it, all in a healthy environment: the outdoors. What a wonderful combination of a win for all! The Mayor's Arts Lunch is another wonderful event that brings an opportunity to recognize artists that may not find a platform to convey their artform. For me, supporting an award that can provide small victories that may change the course of history in someone’s life is very humbling and compels me to provide on-going support.