A legacy of supporting arts in Winnipeg

Arts, Culture & Heritage

Jim Gibbs and Sharon Greening. Photo courtesy of Gary Gibbs.
Jim Gibbs remembered for his ‘generosity of spirit’.

In late 2017, Gary Gibbs answered a call to his brother Jim’s number. It was local theatre company Cercle Moliére phoning to find out why Jim hadn’t been at opening night.

“That’s how much the theatre cares about him,” Mr. Gary Gibbs says.

Mr. Jim Gibbs’ sudden passing on Sept. 24, 2017 was felt by many. Not only was he a mainstay at many musical and theatrical performances, he also generously donated his time and money to the arts, including championing the establishment of four endowment funds at The Winnipeg Foundation for arts and cultural organizations.

While talking to staff at Cercle Moliére, Gary discovered there was still another show left in the season, and of course Jim had a ticket.

“I said, ‘Well whenever that show is, the first person that comes up to buy a ticket, hand him Jim’s ticket and say, ‘This is from Jim Gibbs.’”

“Jim was one of the most passionate supporters of Winnipeg theatre I’ve ever met. He gave us all so much of his time, his money and his ideas.”

Robert Metcalfe, Prairie Theatre Exchange Artistic Director

Mr. Jim Gibbs had season tickets to many arts organizations, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre Projects Manitoba, Prairie Theatre Exchange, and Shakespeare in the Ruins. Gary gave Jim’s friends all the remaining season tickets.

“I’m sure when people went to these shows they got a funny look from people – ‘You’re sitting in Jim’s chair’ – because he always had good seats. Everybody who’s gone to a show has commented on how wonderful it was.”

Mr. Jim Gibbs was born and educated in Winnipeg. He worked for the provincial government and was statistician for the Bisons and Winnipeg Warriors for many years.

Together with the love of his life, Sharon Greening, Jim travelled the world. The couple made lifelong friends where ever they went. They also built strong connections with their neighbours in Wolseley and loved having summer BBQs on the front lawn. Jim was also passionately dedicated to helping on Sharon’s family’s farm in Saskatchewan.

Mr. Jim Gibbs loved lending his organizational skills and commitment to his many and varied volunteer and charitable activities. He was recognized in 2010 by Volunteer Manitoba as recipient of the Investors Group Arts and Culture Award.

When his wife Sharon passed away in 2007, Jim continued her love of theatre and commitment to education by establishing scholarships through The Winnipeg Foundation for theatre students at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba.

“This simple act characterizes Jim’s generosity of spirit,” says Cathy Auld, The Foundation’s Director of Strategic Philanthropy and a good friend of Jim’s. “He knew what was important to Sharon. By investing in young people at a time when students could truly use both a financial break and a tap on the shoulder acknowledging they have potential, a promising future in theatre, he accomplished a great deal.”

“Giving a gift to an endowed fund means leaving a legacy.”

Jim Gibbs, Foundation donor

His impact on Winnipeg’s theatre community cannot be understated.

“Jim was one of the most passionate supporters of Winnipeg theatre I’ve ever met. He gave us all so much of his time, his money and his ideas – it’s hard to believe that he won’t be stopping in to chat ever again,” says Robert Metcalfe, Artistic Director of Prairie Theatre Exchange, and one of Mr. Jim Gibbs’ neighbours.

During his lifetime, Mr. Jim Gibbs supported Agency Endowment Funds at The Winnipeg Foundation for Sarasvàti Productions, Shakespeare in the Ruins, Theatre Projects Manitoba and the Manitoba Association of Playwrights. Although often done anonymously, he would also match gifts to arts and cultural organizations as a way to attract new donors.

“Jim was also a passionate believer in endowed funds for arts organizations as a way to plan for our future,” Mr. Metcalfe says. “When asked to contribute a testimonial for PTE’s Endowment Campaign, he said, ‘My wife made me promise, before she passed away, that I’d do something good with my money, and that’s what I’m doing. Giving a gift to an endowed fund means leaving a legacy.’”

What are Agency Funds?

  • Agency Funds are endowments that support registered charities.
  • Charities can rely on the annual distributions (payments), and have discretion over how to spend that money.
  • The Winnipeg Foundation manages Agency Funds on behalf of 198 charities.
  • Visit Agency Funds to learn more.

This story is featured in the Summer 2018 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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