Interview with Dory Vanderhoof and Julien Valmary: Training arts philanthropy professionals in Canada and in Québec

Par Melissa Wilson , Student, Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, Carleton University.
27 septembre 2023

Arts and Culture Philanthropy Training

Interview with Dory Vanderhoof and Julien Valmary, Conducted and written by Melissa Wilson, Student, Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, Carleton University.

Guiding Questions 

  • How has English Canada trained arts philanthropy professionals?  
  • How is Québec modelling and developing this approach? 

Dory Vanderhoof: 

Dory Vanderhoof

Photo credits: Rosalind Bell

As founder and a Senior Partner of one of the leading executive recruiters for the arts in North America, Dory Vanderhoof’s influence on how arts philanthropy has been practiced and developed in Canada is significant. Originally a successful touring musician and trained in philanthropy at Bucknell University with an MBA from SUNY Binghamton, he was hired in 1978 to help save the Canadian Opera Company (COC) from bankruptcy.  

Dory’s subsequent career as the lead development professional at the COC deployed his training and experience in university philanthropy to help the company grow from $2.4 million in 1978 to $15 million operating budget in 1989. This work at the COC provided significant leadership through which a model for development was developed for the sector as a whole in Canada. It was in 1986 in partnership with Margaret Genovese, Director of Planning & Community Relations at the COC, that Vanderhoof mobilized a philosophy of arts income development as the basis for the Income Managers Program. This program provided specific training for managers in revenue strategies and methods for the arts in Canada.  

In the early 1990s, they each left the COC and began a consulting practice, Genovese Vanderhoof and Associates. From there, they led the Income Managers Program in its various manifestations as well as specialized in executive recruitment and placement.  

Julien Valmary:  

Photo credits: Darren Brown

Originally from France, Julien Valmary’s career in the arts began with his studies in theatre from the Institut d’Études Théâtrales de l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3) and in performing arts administration from ENSATT. After several arts internships in England and in the US, Valmary became the Director of Development at the Théâtre français de Toronto, before settling in Québec.

In Montréal, he worked with the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal before his current role at the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM). Valmary was a student with Vanderhoof and Genovese and the Income Managers Program. He has seen the impact this training created in the sector particularly in English Canada. He also understands its potential for arts philanthropy in Québec. Valmary leads the Grant Programs and Philanthropy team as the Director of Support and Philanthropy at the Conseil. With the CAM, his philanthropy team facilitates conversations about philanthropy in the arts as unique to other subsectors in the charitable field and provides capacity building programs. The programs at the CAM reflect many aspects of the Income Managers philosophy.

Beyond philanthropy, his interests include public policy advocacy for the arts, equity, social justice, and climate change. Julien serves on various advisory boards and committees, including Culture Montréal’s Culture and Climate Transition Standing Committee and Digital Montreal Standing Committee. He also participates in the work of the Canadian Public Arts Funders National Research Group and is a Public Policy Forum Action Canada Fellow. He is a board member of the Inspirit Foundation.


Founding the Income Managers Program 

          In the face of decreased public funding beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the arts and culture sector in Canada was in need of a fundamental shift in the way fundraising and philanthropic support was conducted. At the COC, Dory Vanderhoof was Director of Development and Margaret Genovese was Director of Planning & Community Relations. Their previous work in the US provided them with a linked vision of marketing and philanthropic practice in the arts that was lacking in Canada. They found that there was no formal training for philanthropy specific to the arts and cultural sector in the country. Dory’s training and background in university philanthropy linked with Margaret’s understanding of audience and community development leading them to recognize the need in Canada for a unique approach to revenue and philanthropic training in the arts. So, in 1986, they started the Income Managers Program (IMP) This marked a significant moment in English Canada’s arts philanthropy history.  

          The program provided instruction from Genovese and Vanderhoof as well as other senior development experts in the field. This professional training program included peer learning, mentorship from industry professionals in the large arts and culture organizations in Canada, and a paid internship. Typically, it was funded by the government and by the companies receiving the interns. Funding was channelled through a coordinating organization reflecting both respect and legitimacy in the milieu. As well, there has always been a post-secondary institution that supported its pedagogical objectives.  

          It was initially funded by the federal Department of Communications as a co-production to develop staff for both the National Ballet of Canada and the COC, and it was affiliated with George Brown College, a community college in Toronto. In the early 1990s, the program became affiliated with the Centre for Cultural Management at the University of Waterloo through to 1996 and funding was coordinated through Orchestras Canada. Then, beginning in 2001 through to 2008, it regained its UW affiliation with internship funding directed through the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario. Starting in 2016-17, the philosophy and training of the Income Managers Program has since been adjusted and incorporated into a master’s program in Arts Leadership and Management at Queen’s University. Genovese and Vanderhoof taught in this program until recently. This approach to philanthropy created a strategic shift in the arts and culture sector’s revenue development in Canada. 

Dory: “We realized there was no knowledge or training in Canada about American university fundraising techniques. We had to both start the programs at the COC and teach people how to realize these techniques. […] One of the key changes I made in this university-style philanthropy into the arts was to replace the idea of alumnae with subscriber. We introduced seven fundraising programs, including what is now patron fundraising, low-end direct response fundraising, and corporate sponsorship programs. Almost every philanthropic program in the arts in English Canada traces back to the COC in the early 1980s. »

Margaret Genovese observes: « Currently, the field constantly demands trained personnel in marketing and fund-raising but very few organizations actually do anything about this that is useful: like send staff for training or providing internships. » 

Dory continues: “There were two reasons that the campaigns that arose from the Income Managers Program training were effective. First, we had great people in our training programs, and they were good at what they did and continue to be so. The Canadian federal government declared fundraising an essential service, recognizing that there was a skill shortage, so they provided funding. The second reason was that there was no competition from other pertinent sectors. Governments did not start cutting university and hospital funding until the 1990s. During the 1980s, cultural fundraising had no competition in the Canadian marketplace. They were able to establish relationships that later in the 1990s and beyond, hospitals and universities were extremely enthusiastic to replicate.”  

Melissa: What is unique about philanthropy and the arts that sets it apart from other sectors? What is it about the arts that really creates a difference from other sectors? 

Dory: “There’s a fundamental difference between the performing arts and hospitals or universities. The performing arts raise funds for operations. As a result, it is somewhat of an existential issue. Without these campaigns, the arts would be very constrained and might not exist. Hospitals and universities are raising funds for projects, but the bulk of their day-to-day operations are taken care of by government.’’ 

Dory goes on to describe the arts as a challenging field in which to be a fundraiser, “because the arts are dependent on philanthropy to balance their operating budget, there is a lot of pressure, long hours and as a result, a high burnout rate. We have trained and influenced almost a thousand people over the years of the Income Managers Program and its related courses, followed by our work at the Arts Leadership and Management Program, at Queens University. This program has a concentration on income development. Of those people, there are few left in the performing arts. Many have transferred into hospitals and universities because the pay is double, and the working conditions are easier.” 

Margaret Genovese further observes: ‘’The sector consistently underpays revenue staff and we have lost so many talented people to universities, hospitals, and diseases. The arts eats its children.’’  

Training arts philanthropy professionals, image one a group of people looking at art

“Exposition de la Spoliation du Souk” par Berirouche Feddal à la Maison du Conseil des arts de Montréal. Photographe: Hugues Bouchard.

Melissa: What was your sense of the professional capacity in fundraising in the arts at that time and why it was needed?

Dory: “In 1978, the COC was close to insolvency and was confronted by a very tight cash flow situation.  I accepted the position there based on an agreement that in addition to my position, I would be allowed to spend an additional $150,000 annually, to hire staff and fund programs.  Ultimately, it was this investment in development that enabled the COC to be successful.  However, early in the turnaround process, we realized that even with the funds available to hire professional staff, qualified applicants did not exist. Hence the need for training appeared important.’’ 

Margaret Genovese explains: ‘’The COC and the NBC were facing the prospect of a giant capital campaign and the need for audience sustainability and growth. They actually took action through training, whereas many organizations just wait to hire someone.’’   

Dory continues: ‘’The General Director of the COC at the time, Lotfi Mansouri, believed that the role of a major arts institution was to help the industry in any way it could. My colleague Margaret Genovese and I were allowed to take off time to help set up development and marketing programs throughout Canada with partnered institutions. Once we had set up the example of how it worked at the COC, many other major institutions in Canada joined with us.’’ 

“The philosophy behind the Income Managers Program was that professionals would be able to take the intensive training program and be paid to do their internship with some of the largest arts organizations in the country. The program develops the capability of graduates to move from a full-time staff of 8 to 12 with a part-time telefunding team at the Stratford Festival into a two- or three-person situation at Soulpepper Theatre because they understand the full range of fundraising programs. But it’s very hard to go from a two-person team to a much larger operation at the Stratford Festival.  

“That was the idea behind the whole Income Managers Program, […] you would learn the skills and the craft of fundraising and be paid for that year of internship. We realized that internships tended to be free labor with arts organizations, and not training experiences. It was only in the institutions that had a critical mass of professionals that training could actually happen. We also believe that the professionals in the sector need to play a mentorship role to develop those who follow. It was a very successful program because everyone needed well-trained staff.” 

Training arts philanthropy professionals, image two a group of people standing in a building

“Exposition de la Spoliation du Souk” par Berirouche Feddal à la Maison du Conseil des arts de Montréal. Photographe: Hugues Bouchard.

Melissa: Julien you were a participant of the Income Managers Program, attending the summer and winter institute. How did this impact your vision of the arts philanthropy programs that are now at the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM)?

Julien: “I did the summer and winter institutes in 2006 but was unable to do the internship placement program. However, I saw the effect of this program on my peers in the cohort. My training is in arts management in France, in a heavily subsidized environment, where philanthropy had a historical existence from the past […] but where the entire arts economy was highly subsidized. What I witnessed as an arts management professional in France was the predominance of public funding and a focus essentially on the primacy of the artist’s artistic vision at the head of an organization. When a political change occurred and a subsequent change in artistic direction, everything that had been built up with audiences would be totally erased in a single moment. The belief that the community was not as much at the heart of the development of the project as the leaders were had become hard for me to accept. Moving to Canada and discovering what Dory and Margaret were doing in the Income Managers Program was completely new for me. I was witnessing the importance of having a large support base and actually co-constructing that with the support of the community (including from a philanthropic aspect). It was a complete shift from what I had experienced from my time in France where it was a very top-down approach and not much of a bottom-up approach. 

“In Québec, and particularly in Montréal, my first observations of the philanthropic sector were a strong emphasis on sponsorship and a lack of philanthropy in a more relational mode. I’d come from a more mature philanthropic environment in Toronto. The culture shock was a bit strong when I arrived in Montréal. In my experiences working in minority-language organizations, such as Théâtre français de Toronto or the Segal Centre for Performing Arts in Montréal, this strong link to the community and the techniques of grassroots philanthropy existed. But my more general observation was that few theatres in Montréal dared to solicit their subscribers for donations, a reality that surprised me. Many managers believed that you shouldn’t go looking for your donor base among subscribers. In my work at another organization, I sometimes had to fight my marketing colleagues, because they saw their subscribers as their own and not as part of the organization’s wider community. For more than ten years now, we’ve seen the community become less dependent on special events and sponsorship, and the community is maturing by diversifying its solicitation techniques and gradually broadening its donor base, emphasizing a more relational, close-knit model.  

“However, philanthropy is nothing new to Montréal. Major donors have long supported the arts, from individuals to corporations and foundations. However, their number is still too limited. At the CAM, the work that the team and I have been engaged in for the past nine years is to build initiatives, programs, and tools to increase the philanthropic capacities and professionalism of the arts sector, while insisting on the importance of a relational, local philanthropic approach, which is also in phase with our vision of proximity as a municipal arts council. 

“When I first started at the CAM, our involvement in philanthropy was mostly on a business and arts relationship. […] Since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to shift that narrative without throwing that away, but mostly getting organizations that we fund to understand philanthropy in a more relational way than a transactional way and more based on what is close to their heart.” 

          The philanthropy team at the CAM has been working to build programs inspired by the same philosophy as the Income Managers Program. The CAM’s fiscal sponsorship program offers a supportive bridge between organizations’ funding efforts and their charitable status. Its main objective is to increase the philanthropic reflex, competence, and community within the participating organizations, in order to strengthen their autonomy once they have obtained charitable status. They host Lunch and Learn workshops; are building peer working groups like the institutional theatre group called « Un acte pour le théâtre » starting in late 2019; and are supporting networking among professionals in the field through co-development learning at « les Conversations philanthropiques en culture » (Les CPC). They are also facilitating six-month internship programs for students in partnership with HEC Montréal, the Université de Montréal Faculty of Continuing Education, and the Caisse Desjardins de la Culture. Further, they are currently launching a pilot project that is a professional field trip for younger professionals in philanthropy to Toronto, funded in conjunction with LOJIQ (Les offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec). 

         As well, the CAM has created a link across practice, support for the community, and research that is important. Research and studies provide a seal of credibility to the practice. The study and analysis of philanthropic practices in the Montreal community was produced by Wendy Reid at HEC Montréal in affiliation with the CAM: Rethinking cultural philanthropy in Montréal – relationships and community. This report greatly contributed to influencing the vision of the community and opened up perspectives for understanding and new practices. 

Julien: “We’re not trying to replicate the specific model of the former Income Managers Program. But we are adapting things that we know are critical. Mostly we are creating camaraderie, breaking up loneliness, getting people together, and training people through their peers. The objective here is to create over a very long period of time all of the elements that can sustain a philanthropic future for arts organizations. One of our goals at the CAM is to increase the dollar amounts given to the arts [and] to contribute to that conversation on a larger scale to support arts organizations, because we believe the funding is not sufficient. We believe philanthropy is a matter of public policy, a matter of arts public policy. That’s why we are involved in developing philanthropy as a public arts funder. 

“I really enjoyed the Income Managers Program because it had everything in one year. You had the training, you had the placement, the mentorship element [and] people got paid for it. It made a lot of sense. I think it would still make sense to have this program launched but at a larger scale across the whole of Canada and Québec. Other teaching institutions could become involved. 

Dory: “While the way we are doing things here is not as elaborate as the Income Managers Program, the Montréal milieu is supportive of our efforts and is responding with their own initiatives, which is a key success factor in growing collaboration.” 

Training arts philanthropy professionals, image three a group of people standing in a room with art on the wall

“Exposition de la Spoliation du Souk” par Berirouche Feddal à la Maison du Conseil des arts de Montréal. Photographe: Hugues Bouchard.

Melissa: What would you say the impact of your program has been to the art’s sector in Canada? 

Dory: “There has been a change of focus from government funding to a focus on philanthropic giving. This has fueled the growth of the arts in Canada for the last forty years. This is because in the early days, we introduced the programs that are now the foundation of the entire sector. Necessity is the mother of invention, so while we were providing trained people particularly in the early days, the fact that it worked and has kept them alive was really the driver.  

“However, what we have failed to get the sector to understand now is that the only way you can have true future security is through building endowments. What has happened since we started the Income Managers Program in the 1980s is that two generations of wealth have passed through the arts with annual contributions, but these donors haven’t been leaving a portion of their fortune to the endowment of arts institutions.  

“The only source of funds that grows faster than arts inflation is endowment return, so if you do not build a large endowment, ultimately, […] you will eventually go out of business. Canadian institutions need to embrace the importance of endowment building. We’ve put on a band aid if you want. We’ve brought them here, but everything we teach and the programs that they have in place are not enough to provide a solid future unless building endowments happens. We have basically lost the wealth transfer of the baby boom into the endowments of these institutions because we’ve been going after annual fundraising.” 

Julien: “For us, our objective truly is, first of all, to get the management team and the boards of arts organizations to care about philanthropy. To make the choice to hire trained professionals, and not rely solely on the executive directors or the board. They need to take philanthropy seriously. Secondly, we believe that the management and the board need to understand that their subscribers or client base is already giving, but they’re giving to universities and hospitals. They’re not giving to the arts. 

“As a council, we are also going into the field as a charitable organization and trying to change the narrative, trying to widen the piece of the pie. We’ve created connections between professionals. There are peers that they can talk to, but we, as a council, are committed to supporting philanthropy. We participate in panels to keep that topic on the top of the agenda and to make it critical. We ensure legitimacy to philanthropy as a priority. We need to inspire professionals and organizations on what success might look like if they look way, way beyond at the horizon. Getting organizations together also has been working very well. We’re providing the support or the frame so they can learn on their own and collaborate. I think it’s a good way to maintain the workforce in arts organizations.” 

Melissa: “Thank you both so much for sharing all your insights on the importance of arts philanthropy training and for the valuable contributions you have made and are making to the field today.” 

Cet article fait partie de l’édition spéciale de Septembre 2023: Philanthropie et les Arts. Vous pouvez trouver plus d’informations ici.