Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund Reception and Luncheon for Recipients of the Belle Shenkman Award for the Study of Arts

Belle Shenkman photo

Belle Shenkman (photo: Getty Images)

29 January 2016

Glamorous, enchanting, passionate about Canadian art and artists and an accomplished diplomat, the late Belle Shenkman used her many attributes to support and promote artists and the arts, especially on behalf of Canada, the country where she grew up.

In 1967, Canadians living in the UK gathered to celebrate Canada’s Centennial with a gala ball, chaired by Belle Shenkman in her capacity as President of the Canadian Women’s Club.  On that glittering evening, Belle announced a special Centennial project to endow scholarships for Canadian students studying in the UK, thereby establishing the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund.  To this day the CCSF’s Belle Shenkman Award for the Study of Arts honors Belle Shenkman by recognizing Canadian students studying arts in the UK.

CCSF Belle Shenkman Luncheon 2016

(L to R) Eve Daniell, Barbara Cole Walton, Dasha Shenkman, Deputy High Commissioner Mr Alan Kessel, Nicholas Thompson, Charis Hanning, Nelly von Aderkas

Belle’s daughter, Dasha Shenkman, OBE, shares her mother’s passion for the arts and has devoted her own considerable talents and energy to supporting the arts and artists, particularly in the UK and Canada.

In January of this year the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner, Alan Kessel (shown front row, centre), hosted Dasha (seated 2nd from right),
members of the CCSF and past recipients of the Belle Shenkman Award for the Study of Arts at a luncheon at Canada House.  Alan, a close friend and colleague of Belle Shenkman, regaled us with stories of Belle’s tireless promotion of Canadian culture in Europe and the skill and charm in which she persuaded senior corporate executives to donate large sums to the National Ballet of Canada, as well as to numerous other arts institutions and individuals who came to the UK and Europe and sought out Belle’s advise on issues ranging from funding to visibility to publicity.

The attendees were also privileged to receive a personally guided tour of the Shenkman Inuit Art Collection, which DashCCSF Belle Shenkman Lunch2a and her brother William Shenkman donated to the Canadian High Commission.  This collection of Inuit carvings is displayed in a reserved area of Canada House that is not accessible to the public, so it was an extra special treat to be able to see it.  The newly refurbished Canada House celebrates and showcases Canadian art and is a fitting home for this stunning collection.  Let’s hope that in the future many more people will have the opportunity to see this very special collection of intrinsically Canadian carvings.

Belle’s legacy is still very much alive today and her patronage of the arts and enthusiasm for all types of artistic endeavor is embodied by the talented and diverse recipients of the Belle Shenkman Award.  Among the recipients present were: Nicholas Thompson, a stone carver who recently finished carving a life size mother and child statue on Guildford Cathedral; Eve Daniell, who is in the Royal Conservatory of Music’s elite Opera Program and has already at this early stage of her career sung a wide repertoire of operatic music; and Eleanor von Aderkas, who works at the National Gallery as a Specialist Scientist for the Examination of Paintings.

The CCSF would like to thank Alan Kessel for hosting this sparkling event, Hasna Bloore for her faultless organization and Dasha Shenkman for representing her mother at this event and for her ongoing interest in the CCSF.  We would also like to warmly acknowledge the ongoing support of the Maple Leaf Trust who have raised funds to make the Belle Shenkman Award possible.  Finally we would like to recognize all of the recipients of the Belle Shenkman Award for the Study of Arts for their invaluable contribution to Canada and the arts.