Chalmers Fund

The Chalmers Fund (The Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation 1964-79). Fund, incorporated in 1964, in the Province of Ontario, to make grants in the fields of theatre, music, opera, dance, and mime (and in related educational areas) from monies provided by Floyd S. Chalmers, his wife Jean A., his son Wallace G., and his daughter M. Joan. By the end of 1975 the foundation had made grants of some $600,000, of which more than half had gone to music, opera, and dance. Though annual grants were made to the COC, the TS, the MSO, and other major organizations, emphasis during the 1970s shifted away from repeated assistance with operational expenses to specific aid to individual projects. Examples are funds to the COC to commission Louis Riel as a Canadian centennial project, to the Stratford Festival to help rebuild the Avon Theatre, to Toronto Arts Productions to help build the St Lawrence Centre, to the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada toward the preparation of the first edition of EMC, to Fathers of Confederation Building Trust to recostume Anne of Green Gables for its Expo 70 Japan visit, to the Niagara Symphony Orchestra to furnish its Symphony House, to York University to launch an opera workshop, to the Guelph Spring Festival to commission a libretto for a Canadian opera, to the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir to help finance a European tour, and to the University of Toronto for opera productions. Funds for awards and scholarships were given to JMC (YMC), the Canadian Music Competitions, York University, and an annual grant was given to Toronto Arts Productions for a promising young Canadian performer.

By 1979 the assets of the Chalmers Foundation had reached approximately $1 million which the Chalmers family decided to give outright to the OAC, at which time the foundation was renamed the Chalmers Fund. This money was matched by a Wintario grant, thus establishing a $2 million fund which has subsequently been augmented by further contributions from the Chalmers family, including shares in Maclean Hunter valued at $2 million given in 1989.

Until May 2001 the Chalmers Fund sponsored the Chalmers Performing Arts Training Program and the Chalmers Awards. The Chalmers Awards honoured exceptional individuals from over a dozen arts disciplines. In 1991, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Jean A. Chalmer provided funds to establish the Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award, honoring individual performers or ensembles who had made an outstanding contribution to Canadian musical creativity, and the Jean A. Chalmers Awards for Musical Composition, which honoured a Canadian composer of an outstanding musical composition and the Ontario-based producer or commissioner of the selected work.

Laureates of the National Music Award include: Lawrence Cherney (1993), Andrew Dawes (1994), the Esprit Orchestra (1995), Robert Aitken (1996), Peter Paul Koprowski (1997); Christos Hatzis (1998); Mario Bernardi (1999); Piano Six (2000); and Ben Heppner (2001). Composers who have received a Jean A. Chalmers Award for Musical Composition include: James Tenney (1993), Alexina Louie (1994), Paul Dolden (1995), and Chan Ka Nin (1996). Producers or Commissioners who have received the award include: Shannon Peet (1993); Continuum Contemporary Music, and The Elora Festival (1994); Jean-François Denis (1995); and David Jaeger (1996).

The award was discontinued in 1997. In 2001, thirteen award recipients from diverse fields of the arts each received $25,000. The Chalmers Awards and the Chalmers Performing Arts Training Program were discontinued in 2001 and replaced by the Chalmers Program.

The Chalmers Program, formulated in response to suggestions from Ontario's arts professionals, is made up of two components: the Chalmers Arts Fellowships and the Chalmers Professional Development Grants. The purpose of the new Chalmers Program is to "support activities that advance the talent, arts practice, and achievements of individual Ontario-resident arts professionals" and to "support artistic, generational, ethnocultural and regional diversity." In 2004 the Chalmers Program distributed more than $400,000 in grant and fellowship funding among 22 recipients.

The assets of the Chalmers Fund are held by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation, formed in 1991, and are administered by the OAC.