By Darlene Seto
The arts show you how to feel. What is the point of a better economy if you don’t know how to live? I want to awaken people on how important they are.”
To John Lefebvre, a former University of Calgary Students’ Union President, it’s that simple.
Lefebvre’s deep feelings on the fundamental existence and development of art and culture were the source of his $1.2 million gift to the U of C’s Faculty of Fine Arts. The announcement was formally presented at a reception Wed., Oct. 12 in the Rosza Centre.
As a former U of C law student, Lefebvre has personal feelings for the Faculty of Fine Arts, stemming from his time here during the 1970s.
“I used to wander through Craigie Hall, sit down at the piano and just play the blues away,” Lefebvre admitted. “I mean, if I were to study torts and constitutional law all day everyday, I wouldn’t have felt like I accomplished anything personally.”
“When I was a kid, the great poets of my day would scribble down their words and scream them into a microphone,” he added. “John Lennon, Neil Young and othersÂ–their words are what really meant something to me and helped shape my life.”
To Faculty of Fine Arts Dean Dr. Ann Calvert, Lefebvre’s gift was something even more meaningful.
“We are just so excited and delighted,” she said. “This is a huge morale lifter for people in this faculty. The arts here at the university are very important in creating new ways of thinking and generating knowledge. They provide students with a way to express themselves.”
Calvert added the donation will allow the faculty to work on a number of items including funding student projects, setting up four new fine arts entrance awards and a distinguished professorship, as well as refurbishing a new rehearsal and present- ation studio in Craigie Hall.
Both she and Lefebvre hope the gift will be a watershed for other sources of funding.
“We have requested a matching fund from the provincial government,” Calvert explained, alluding to a recent $25 million gift recently given to the Schulich School of Engineering which was matched by the Alberta government. “We’re hoping to demonstrate to the community that the fine arts are worthy of support.”
Lefebvre did not mince words expanding on the topic.
“In the bigger picture, what is the point of the economy and business if you’re not developing the other side of human life?” he said. “You can make money all day long, but you won’t be happy. You can end up rich and sad.”
“University is supposed to make a better community, not just a better economy,” Lefebvre maintained. “In my opinion, university is not just about job creation, it is the development of human resources.”