Major UBC Arts Gift Creates Canada’s Largest Endowment for Educating Curators

One of Canada’s leading arts benefactors has donated $2 million to the University of British Columbia, creating the country’s largest endowment for educating gallery and museum curators.

The major gift is from philanthropist Michael Audain, who has given nearly $18 million to Canadian arts organizations through personal donations and his Audain Foundation.

“Educating outstanding curators – the people who put contemporary art before the public – is critical for a thriving cultural scene in Canada,” says Audain, a UBC alumnus and chair of B.C.’s Polygon Homes Ltd. “UBC has helped to nurture Vancouver’s growth into a major international centre for the visual arts and I am delighted to be able to provide this support.”

The $2-million gift creates two endowments that will support the UBC Dept. of Art History, Visual Art and Theory’s Masters in Critical and Curatorial Studies (CCST) Program, one of the top North American programs of its kind and one of only five in Canada. A $1.3-million endowment will provide financial support to CCST students through four annual fellowships, while a second $700,000 endowment fund will provide enhanced funding for travel, student internships and other program needs.

“This generous gift will help UBC – a global leader in arts education, research, facilities and production – to continue to attract the world’s best students,” says Nancy Gallini, Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Arts. “Michael Audain is a truly esteemed alumnus of this university and clearly understands the vital role art plays in our society.”

Audain’s contribution boosts his total donations to UBC to nearly $2.4 million, the largest amount he has given to a university. Previously, Audain gave more than $375,000 in support of university initiatives, including the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and its recent exhibit, Exponential Future, which was co-presented by the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

To interview Audain, Gallini or Scott Watson, CCST Program Chair, contact Basil Waugh, UBC Public Affairs.

For more information on Audain, UBC’s Faculty of Arts and the CCST program, see backgrounder. For press quality photos of Audain, visit:

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Michael Audain

Michael Audain, LL.D., is chair and founder of Polygon Homes Ltd., which has built more than 17,000 homes in Metro Vancouver since 1980.

One of Canada’s most active arts philanthropists, the UBC alumnus has given nearly $18 million to Canadian arts organizations, including the National Gallery of Canada, UBC, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Bill Reid Foundation.

Audain, an Order of British Columbia recipient, is a trustee of the National Gallery of Canada and chairs the Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation, the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts and the B.C. Arts Renaissance Fund.

UBC Faculty of Arts

UBC’s Faculty of Arts is a research-intensive faculty encompassing a full range of the social sciences, humanities and visual and performing arts.

The university’s largest academic unit, the faculty educates more than 11,000 students in 16 departments, four professional schools, the Museum of Anthropology, the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and approximately 60 programs.

The Faculty of Arts aims to create and disseminate knowledge through the teaching, learning, research, professional practice, artistic production and performances of its faculty and students. For more information, visit

UBC Masters in Critical and Curatorial Studies (CCST) Program

The CCST program, in UBC’s Dept. of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, aims to address the growing need for curators and critics who have theoretical knowledge and practical experience in analyzing institutions, preparing displays and communicating about contemporary art.

One of the top North American programs of its kind, CCST students learn the practical and theoretical concerns of exhibition creation and receive professional experience through the research, planning, and realization of graduate practicum projects.

For more information, visit