Many arts groups in Winnipeg couldn't survive without one woman - Jean Giguère. She has worked tirelessly behind the scenes with organizations such as the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg International Writers' Festival, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the National Arts Summit and Culture Days.
Now Giguère is being recognized for her work. She'll take centre stage to receive the 2014 Ramon Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in The Performing Arts. It will be handed out at a special ceremony at Governor General David Johnston's residence on May 9th.
"These awards are the ultimate recognition, from Canadians, of Canadians whose accomplishments have inspired and enriched the cultural life of our country," Johnston said in a press release.
Giguère credits her upbringing with spurring her on to volunteer.
"It was my schooling that you should be involved, it was something you gave to the community," she said.
Giguère came onto the board of the RWB in 1997 at a critical time and was a key player in developing a governance model that stabilized the organization.
"Governance was probably one of the reasons I received this award," she said. "If you had told me that 15 years ago, I would have said you're crazy."
An excellent fundraiser, she has no qualms about asking people for money.
"You have to believe in what you're asking for. When you speak from the heart about your organization, businesses recognize that."
Giguère was also a leading figure in getting Culture Days off the ground in 2010, an initiative designed to make culture part of our daily lives. She is a member of the National Executive, she also co-chairs Culture Days Manitoba and will chair the 2014 National Culture Days Congress.
"We needed to have communities recognize that culture is defined not by large organizations necessarily, but by whatever it is in their community. We have to celebrate that and open the doors to their communities to what they have to offer.
"We reached a 1,700,000 people last year. Winnipeg was number one in the country and Flin Flon was number seven," she said, proudly.
Jean Giguère will be awarded The 2014 Ramon Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in The Performing Arts at a special ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on May 9th.