“It’s part of the job, not only to play a role on a corporate and financial level, but also to participate and help organizations such as Les Grands Ballets with their mission and evolution. That’s part of our role as a corporate citizen. But there’s also my own personal interest,” says BMO’s Claude Gagnon.
While BMO has been a corporate supporter of Les Grands Ballets for a very long time, Claude Gagnon has become involved relatively recently. This spring will be his first experience as co-president of Les Grands Ballets’ gala under the theme Hymn to love. He’s also just taken on another presidency: President, BMO Financial Group, Quebec.
You might wonder how someone who works in the upper echelons of a big bank finds the time to be active in fundraising for an arts organization. “When you’re interested in something, you can always find the time!” responds Gagnon, who also supports the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Opéra de Québec…
Gagnon explains that his colleague Jacques Ménard, who until recently held the job of BMO president and who now bears the title of President Emeritus with the organization, has been a guide of sorts, showing him how beneficial involvement in the arts can be, both in business and on a personal level.
“When you watch a troupe like Les Grands Ballets, you realize what superb athletes they are, and you can’t help but be impressed. They allow you to appreciate this discipline that requires such rigour and so much hard work, that involves such fluidity and beauty.”
As co-president of Les Grands Ballets’ gala, Claude Gagnon shares the job with someone he met through the dance company, the Paris-based high-jeweller Édéenne. Originally from Quebec, she approached BMO with an idea for an exhibition, which was presented in fall 2017, at Les Grands Ballets’ Wilder Building, as part of the bank’s 200th anniversary celebrations.