A Legacy Giving Story: Richard Paquet
“We take art for granted”
Richard Paquet considers artists to be at the forefront of humanity. “They make us question; challenge the limitations that society imposes on us,” he says. Richard is a long-time board member of Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council, and has recently added a gift to the Foundation in his will. He believes that it is our duty as citizens to prepare and regularly update our wills.
“We take art for granted,” he says. “It’s the first thing to get cut with funding reductions, and at the best of times our artists are underpaid.” “If anything,” he says, “the pandemic has shown us how reliant we are on art, on movies, books, music, online virtual museum tours.” But while our artists helped us cope during these difficult times, they also faced the worst of the economic impact. According to Stats Canada, the GDP in Canada’s performing arts sector fell by 62% including 40% job losses in performing arts companies.
As a board member Richard saw firsthand how the Foundation rallied funds for artists during the initial days of lockdown, even before CERB was introduced. Our COVID-19 Response Fund distributed $833,667 to 982 artists over a few weeks in April and May 2020.
“The Foundation has added to my perspective of what is possible to support and foster arts in Toronto,” he says. Richard particularly appreciates the overarching reach of the Foundation’s programs, catering to the varying needs of a range of artists. “The Foundation is like an umbrella organization that helps all artists.”
He makes mention of the Foundation’s key role in bringing together artists, donors, corporations, and politicians through its Mayor’s Arts Lunch and Mayor’s Evening for the Arts. “It’s such an emotional experience to see these artists being recognized by such a wide segment of the society (at these events).”
“We are lucky to be in Toronto,” he says, regarding the diversity of the city. “Through art we are able to bring people together who might not be able to communicate otherwise.” Toronto Arts Foundation’s Arts in the Parks program brings free arts programming to Toronto’s parks in the inner suburbs. “At these events you will see people from different communities, who in a different time or place might be on different sides of a conflict, smiling at each other, tapping their feet to the same rhythm. It is incredible.”
Richard believes in the transformative power of arts, the unifying moment that comes with experiencing a concert together, or walking through a museum or an art gallery. “Art has been with us right from the start; from the days of the caves. It has played an incredible part in human development and will continue to do so. I want to play my small role in ensuring that our artists are looked after.”
Toronto Arts Foundation would like to thank Richard Paquet for his commitment to achieving a Creative City: Block by Block.