What is your first memory of KWAG?
I originally remember being at KWAG as part of a grade school group while growing up in Kitchener. I had moved away from the Region for university and work. Upon moving back to the area 20 years ago I was very interested in reengaging with KWAG. I find art helps me relax and balances my life from a pretty fast pace at work.
When you are not at the Gallery, what do you do?
In my work life, I am the Chief Financial Officer of the Schlegel Group of companies. This includes Schlegel Villages, an operator of long term care and retirement homes across Ontario. It also includes Homewood Health, a leader in mental health and addiction services across Canada, including the Homewood Health Centre in Guelph. Also Schlegel Urban Development which develops communities such as the Williamsburg Town Centre in southwest Kitchener. Outside of work, my girlfriend Jennifer and I live in Williamsburg, with our Scottish terrier, MacGregor. We enjoy participating in the various arts and culture events that occur in our Region.
If you were an artist, what medium would you use?
I've always been attracted to the tried and true traditional oil on canvas. The trick to me is how one can transfer this medium to inspire others to think outside the box. This is similar to the challenge I find myself in at work and I look at how can I take what someone would find as fairly normal and turn this into something that makes people excited and inspires them. This can create a culture of inspiration and engagement whether through the KWAG or any other organization.
What motivates you to support KWAG?
Many things motivate me to support KWAG. Firstly, we need to show we are a well rounded community to attract people to live and work in our region. KWAG is a key part of this. Another key thing is how art can engage older adults so that they age more gracefully. The KWAG program with older adults from Winston Park is an example of this. Also, art therapy is important in dealing with the mental health issues that we have in our community. Lastly, I find it personally engaging in a way that helps balance out the way I look at things in life.
If you could tell the community one thing about the importance of philanthropy and the arts, what would you say?
Firstly, for anyone with the means or ability to give back, it is important to do so in whatever way you can. I learned that from my parents. Not only does it make you feel good, it helps inspire others. By giving back to arts in the community, not only are you sending a message that we have a well rounded community in arts, culture, business, family and sports but you are also telling artists and inspiring artists that we put value on what they do. By having more engagement at all levels we just become a better community to live in and prosper.