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Walter Carsen, Toronto businessman and philanthropist, 1990. (David Street/Handout)
Walter Carsen, Toronto businessman and philanthropist, 1990. (David Street/Handout)

Arts philanthropist Walter Carsen has died at age 100 Add to ...

Toronto businessman and arts philanthropist Walter Carsen, who generously donated to institutions including the National Ballet of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario, has died.

Mr. Carsen died Monday in Toronto, the National Ballet announced on Wednesday.

He was 100.

“The National Ballet of Canada, in its entire history, has only ever had one patron like Walter Carsen. He helped us achieve what we wanted to do,” Karen Kain, the dance company’s artistic director, said in a statement.

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“He was an inspiration through his generosity, leadership and great enthusiasm and he was also a great friend to the company. He was unfailingly in the audience at almost every performance and was a warm and encouraging presence for the dancers both backstage and in the rehearsal room.

“He will be deeply missed by every member of the National Ballet, dancers and staff alike.”

Born in Germany, Mr. Carsen came to Canada in 1941 and became a successful distributor of photo and optical products.

A passionate lover of the arts, he built an extensive collection of prints, paintings and sculptures, over 150 of which he donated to the AGO.

Carsen also became an unequalled supporter of the National Ballet of Canada, underwriting 12 of its new productions, funding tours and campaigns, and providing the lead gift for its new home named in his honour.

He also established the $50,000 Walter Carsen Prize for the Performing Arts, which honours Canadian artists in dance, theatre or music.

Other recipients of Mr. Carsen’s contributions include the Shaw Festival, the United Way, and the Art Galleries of Hamilton and Windsor, among others.

In 1993, Mr. Carsen’s philanthropic efforts won him a Montblanc de la Culture award in Paris.

And in 2002, he was made an officer of the Order of Canada and given the International Society for the Performing Arts Foundation Angel Award.

Remembering Walter Carsen: Share your memories of the late philanthropist with The Globe and Mail by e-mailing community@globeandmail.com

 

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