RWB 80th Season Dedicated to Kathleen Richardson

Dec 06 2019 | Posted in Blog

A true proponent of the arts and well-known philanthropist, Kathleen Margaret Richardson had been an important member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet family since it opened in 1939. Her passing in September, at age 91, has deeply resonated within the Winnipeg arts community and beyond.

A celebration of life will be held for Miss Richardson, on Tuesday, November 19th at The Fairmont Winnipeg. The reception will begin at 4:00pm and remarks beginning at 5:00pm. All are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Miss Richardson may be made to Royal Winnipeg Ballet through our website or to Dalnavert Museum through The Winnipeg Foundation.

As one of the first students to take classes through the Winnipeg Ballet Club, the school that would later become the RWB, Miss Richardson developed a deep love and appreciation for the ballet. She saw the potential of a world-class ballet company in Winnipeg and realized what it could bring to the city.

Although passionate about dance, Miss Richardson would eventually pursue a different path, but her unwavering commitment to the company remained. She would go on to serve as President of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Board of Directors, from 1957 to 1961, after which she continued to serve as honourary President until she passed away.

Miss Richardson was more than a savvy businesswoman and lover of the arts. She was also a community leader, one who championed many of Winnipeg’s cultural endeavours, and a believer in hard work. In the 1970s, Miss Richardson was often seen selling tickets to fundraising events in the public area of the convention centre. Though she could have bought all the tickets herself, Miss Richardson instead sat at the table along with other volunteers and encouraged passersby to support the RWB.

Always preferring to remain anonymous, Miss Richardson’s extraordinary generosity improved organizations, communities, and the lives of others across Canada. She believed strongly in the words often quoted by her mother, Muriel Richardson, “Unto whom much is given, much is also required,” words that Miss Richardson chose to live by.

CEO & Artistic Director of the RWB, André Lewis, has fond memories of Miss Richardson. “She was very humble, very quiet, and unassuming,” said Lewis, citing her numerous contributions to the arts. “Everyone she met was instantly captivated by Kathleen’s charm, wit, and grace. We developed a close relationship over the years,” Lewis said, “She is dearly missed today.”

Miss Richardson was instrumental in securing a permanent home for the RWB. In 1986, she chaired the RWB’s Capital Campaign, which raised $5.5 million in private contributions for the $10.3 million project, which resulted in our magnificent building opening its doors in 1988.

Before she passed away, Miss Richardson was awarded the Order of Manitoba and appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, the third highest honour a Canadian civilian could receive. She also received the RCA Medal, awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the development and promotion of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Her time with the RWB was one of incredible growth for the company, wherein we reached new heights of international recognition and acclaim. For this reason, and many more, we are honoured to dedicate our 80th anniversary season to the life of Miss Richardson, and we will continue to celebrate her memory for years to come.