Art makes life better, in more ways than one. In fact, according to a literature review from Toronto-based Business for the Arts, engaging in arts and cultural activities helps generate empathy and compassion for others, boosts local economies, helps children develop critical thinking skills, improves health and wellness, and more. Art gives us the opportunity to better understand ourselves and each other and lets us look at life through a different lens. In the third part of our Q&A series, Dr. Noreen Golfman, co-chair of the Business & Arts NL board of directors, and provost and vice-president (academic) of Memorial University, shares why art matters to her.
Business & Arts NL: What arts organization(s) do you volunteer for?
Noreen Golfman: Volunteer roles include the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (founder and chair of board); Friends of Canadian Broadcasting (chair of board); Business & Arts NL (co-chair of board). I was also on the board of the Resource Centre for the Arts for several years.
Business & Arts NL: Why did you choose to join the board of Business & Arts NL, rather than volunteering in some other capacity?
NG: The whole purpose and mandate of Business & Arts NL appeals to me, as someone who has been involved in the arts sector as a volunteer for almost three decades, struggling with trying to build professional practices and maintain a stable operating budget over time. It’s an idea whose time has come. We need to stop thinking of the public sector as the only source of arts production. I am happy to lend my experience and enthusiasm to the board.
Business & Arts NL: Why do you support the arts and why is art important?
NG: Too many words to say why. But surely art is the tissue of a healthy society. Through art we have an opportunity to understand ourselves, have freedom to question and interrogate the status quo, challenge ourselves to see and experience the world differently—all good reasons to encourage arts development. A society without a healthy arts foundation is… unthinkable, or very weak.
Business & Arts NL: What is a recent achievement of the organization you serve that you feel proud of?
NG: Business & Arts NL has steadily evolved into a much more confident organization from its hesitant early days. The board has a much clearer idea now of what we need to and can achieve through collaboration with all the relevant sectors that touch our lives. I am these days most proud of just how far we have come. First big challenge—making sure we communicate what we’re about, and that’s happening through a variety of ways. Everyone wants to sponsor a piano! That’s a healthy sign in itself. And we have been lucky in recruiting first-class dedicated and talented staff. Recently, through our connections with the business and professional community, we have actually helped solve some serious financial challenges for a few arts organizations.
Bio: Dr. Noreen Golfman is the co-chair of Business & Arts NL and the provost and vice-president (academic) of Memorial University. A professor of English with a PhD from the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Golfman is also active in the local arts and cultural scene as the founding director and chair of the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, vice-chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation, and chair of the board of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. She has also worked as a commentator, reviewer and performer for CBC radio and television.