Seats take centre stage at arts fundraiser

Eric Charman will be fêted at a bash hosted by the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Symphony.

Eric Charman

A special “chair-ity” event is being held to mark one of Greater Victoria’s most prominent citizen’s 80th birthday.

Philanthropist Eric Charman, who is well-known for supporting the arts, will be fêted at a bash hosted by the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Symphony on March 4 at the McPherson Playhouse.

“Eric’s greatest passion is music,” said Patrick Corrigan, executive director of Pacific Opera Victoria. “Due in large part to his lifelong work and dedication, Victoria has one of the most vibrant musical scenes in the country – one in which the opera, the symphony and the conservatory have tremendous donor support.”

“They wanted to have a dinner to honour me on my 80th birthday, but I’ve been honoured enough,” said Charman. “If they want to tie me up on my birthday, they should have a function like we did for my 60th, 65th, 70th and 75th – on each occasion the party raised funds for one of my charity groups.”

The festivities begin at 5 p.m. and include a champagne reception, a grazing supper, silent and live auctions and concert which begins with the Canadian Scottish Pipes and Drums and the Victoria Symphony playing together. Charman’s wish as he blows out the candles on this year’s cake is for the event to raise $300,000 for the three host organizations. “I grew up as a penniless orphan in England, I was never adopted. In my lonely life, music was a comforting thing,” Charman said of his dedication to making professional music more affordable.

The “chair-ity” comes in with unique works of art provided by 15 B.C. artists who used a chair as their subject. The one-of-a-kind chairs, from hand-painted upholstered chairs to paintings of chairs, will be offered in both silent and live auctions at the gala.

“Honouring Eric Charman, who has worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the Victoria Symphony and all the arts, is one of the most meaningful things that all of us in Victoria can do. The arts in this community owe Eric a debt that can never be repaid,” said Mitchell Krieger, executive director of the Victoria Symphony.

“If there is one thing I would want it’s to encourage new people to come,” said Charman. “It will be a great evening, though $250 sounds expensive, you get a tax receipt for $100 and receive a gala performance.”

Tickets for Eric Charman’s 80th Birthday Gala are $250. For those wishing to attend only the concert, a limited number of balcony tickets are available for $75.

For tickets call 250-382-1641 or charmanbirthday@gmail.com. For more information go to www.pov.bc.ca.