Koerner Foundation (The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation). Established 1955 with a capital grant of $1 million by Leon and Thea Koerner. Leon (1892-1972), a Czech refugee, settled in Canada in 1939 with his brothers Theodor, Otto, and Walter and formed a timber company in British Columbia. The objectives of the foundation are to foster the cultural and creative arts, higher education, and the public welfare, particularly in British Columbia.
The Koerner Foundation administers four main grant competitions on an annual and biannual basis. These are in areas that include the cultural and creative arts (for institutions and organizations in the visual and performing arts, heritage organizations, festivals, community arts councils and libraries), social services (for educational or charitable organizations or institutions, especially those that aid youth, women or the disabled), higher education (University and College Lecture Series Competitions), and individual student aid (for pre-professional students in the performing or visual arts). In celebration of the Koerner Foundation's 50th anniversary, a special one-time $50,000 grant was awarded.
The Koerner Foundation is administered by a board of governors chosen from disciplines such as education, the arts, social services, finance and industry. Of the over $8 million awarded 1955-2004, approximately one-third of the total in the cultural and creative arts category went to a wide variety of musical institutions and performing groups in British Columbia. A few national institutions are supported, such as the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Canadian Music Competitions, Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Music Educators' Association, and the Canadian Music Centre.