In Memory of Eric Charman

Victoria philanthropist Eric Charman. Photograph By DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

In memory of Eric Charman
March 5, 1932 – March 6 2020

It is the end of an era for the Victoria Arts Community with the passing of Eric Charman, Victoria philanthropist and arts patron. Eric has been the undisputed chief rallying force for the arts in Victoria for the past 60 years and the Victoria Conservatory of Music (VCM) was fortunate to be one of numerous arts organizations to benefit greatly from his vision and tireless work.

Eric was a champion of the VCM from the very beginning, when Mrs. Alix Goolden first invited a few friends to her house in 1963 to promote her vision to start a music school to train young musicians to help sustain the Victoria Symphony – Eric was all in. In 1998 he emceed the Grand Opening Gala of the Alix Goolden Performance Hall named in Mrs. Goolden’s honour, now one of Victoria’s most loved performance venues. He was always immersed in the VCM and even convinced current CEO, Jane Butler McGregor, to take the job in 2009 and bring new life to the Conservatory.

Jane Butler McGregor, CEO of the VCM, said “I feel privileged to have met Eric and to gain his friendship. I found it very moving that he was driven by his own childhood that lacked so much, to always try to provide more opportunities for others, especially young people. His giving came from a place that was very personal to him. I will miss him and his larger-than-life personality.”

Eric Charman had a soft spot for young people looking to enhance their learning of music and other fine arts. He believed passionately in the ability of art to inspire hope and comfort in people of all ages. He dedicated his life to supporting the arts through fundraising and awareness events, regularly giving emerging artists valuable exposure and encouragement. He and his late wife Shirley jointly hosted countless receptions and parties, for a variety of community causes and charities with special emphasis on young students in the musical arts.

In honour of Eric’s 85th birthday in 2017, his closest friends and colleagues established the Eric and Shirley Charman Young Musicians Bursary Fund at the Victoria Foundation to support students at the VCM who required financial support to pursue their musical dreams. Eric, who could never afford music lessons when he was young, fuelled his passion by ensuring that music was available to all youth in our community regardless of their financial circumstance. Over the last 3 years of his life he was dedicated to raising money to build the fund which has now grown to $1,225,000 – surpassing his goal of $1 million!!

Eric Charman was a true champion for the arts in the capital region. His legacy will live on in perpetuity at the VCM with the Eric & Shirley Charman Young Musicians Bursary Fund that pays tribute to his steadfast commitment to a vibrant musical community in Victoria. The richness of his legacy provides Victoria’s arts community with the foundation to thrive for generations to come.

Awarded to musicians 25 years of age and under, the Eric and Shirley Charman Young Musicians Bursary Fund will ensure that any young person who wishes to experience music and requires financial assistance is able to pursue their musical dreams at the VCM.