WITH GREAT PAIN we share here
the loss of our best friend who happened to be our only sister, Linda
Zwicker, at the untimely age of 48, from cancer.
Her 15-episode drama Panther and Jaguar, based on
the relationship between H. G. Wells and Rebecca West, launched daily
drama on CBC's Morningside. It also won the ACTRA
award as "Best Radio Program for 1983-Drama or Documentary".
The laurel came little more than a year after she
riskily stepped out of a well-paid arts administration job into solo
Three years later she won the ACTRA award "Best
Writer-Radio Drama" for her 10-part series Grey Pearls, also broad-cast
on Morningside. It was based on the last two years in the life of
composer Robert Schumann. She was three times an ACTRA finalist nominee.
In the first decade of her freelance writing
career, which was to be her last, besides nine radio plays and drama
series she wrote three screenplays, three stage plays, three novels and
two TV scripts. One of these, Easter in Igloolik, won the Columbus
(Ohio) Film Festival Bronze Plaque, Jury Choice.
Her two published novels, The Blue Hope
Chest of Arabella King and Misfits and Miracles, are part of
the Road to Avonlea series for young readers. A 1992/93 novel, Sweetie
Pies, was uncompleted, as was Cancerland,
a book she hoped would record her successful struggle with melanoma
against 100-to-l odds.
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Linda grew up in Alberta,
graduated from the University of Alberta's music program and did post graduate work
toward a Master of Music at the University of Texas in Austin before
moving to Toronto in 1968.
She was arts education officer for the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) for
eight years. We remember the highly imaginative "Music Box" she
pioneered to interest young students in music. Hundreds were
distributed to Ontario schools. A huge wicker basket, it was filled
with a cornucopia of musical stuff-instruments familiar and odd, scores
traditional and contemporary, artifacts relevant and whimsical.
She went on to become administrative director of Toronto Arts
Productions (now The Canadian Stage Company) for three years before
launching her writing career.
She immediately became active in ACTRA. Then, as Jack Gray, president
of the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) wrote, Linda became "part of the
team that developed the basic push for the WGC, helped put together the
original proposals, and was at the centre of our fight with ideas and
militant sense of fun."
And as her playwright colleague David Young recalled at a memorial
event, Linda was tapped to serve on the board of Coach House Press when
that yeasty Canadian institution was beset by problems. "She saved
Coach House Press," said Young.
Linda took a great interest in Sources. She
suggested organizations that should be listed, listened to our
problems, responded with practical suggestions, did not criticize if we
failed to carry out a suggestion. Above all she was always upbeat and
supportive. This was typical of her approach to colleagues, to scripts,
to organizations, to friends, to family, to life.
Linda's friends approached the Ontario Arts Council Foundation to
establish a fund to honour her memory. Sarah Iley and her staff
responded immediately with understanding and efficiency. We offered to
Sarah to be supportive of this new Foundation, to begin with by sharing
information about it. We believe Linda, as a former OAC officer, would
have made the practical suggestion of plugging the Foundation. "It's
worth it. Go ahead and do it," we can imagine her counselling. It
IT IS FITTING that a memorial fund should be set up through the Ontario
Arts Council Foundation for Linda Zwicker, who was an artist in words
and music and in shaping her life and its impact on others.
The Foundation itself is noteworthy, being a
new-and much-needed-approach to funding artists directly and in
perpetuity. It's also a fund that provides fiscal benefits for the
living who contribute to its endowments.
No support for individuals in the arts is more
direct or imaginative. The Foundation enjoys the expertise, staff and
administrative resources of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) but is
separately constituted from the OAC, with its own board of directors.
No art form is excluded, no region (of Ontario) denied access. It
should be noted that the OAC has been the most generous of all the
provincialarts councils in supporting national programs for magazine
and book publishing and the visual and performing arts.
The Foundation's sole purpose is the responsible
stewardship of donations which will go to the arts and artists in
perpetuity. Within that a remarkable range of human flexibility is
entertained. Donors can specify a particular arts discipline, or
encourage experimentation and innovation, endow a fund in their family
's name, memorialize someone else or con-tribute to the success of the
arts in a particular community, for instance.As well as cash donations
the Foundation welcomes gifts of property and securities. Advisors can
help donors realize significant tax advantages through planned giving.
Artistic creation is a significant force making
society worthwhile, yet artists are forced to struggle more than most.
Youngsters should be exposed to vibrant arts experiences at a young
age, yet in 1990 only six per cent of Ontario's schools accessed the
OAC program which takes arts into the classroom. This was a program to
which Linda devoted a significant part of her too brief life.
Those who would like to contribute to the
Foundation or learn more may call Sarah Iley at (416) 961-1660, or toll
free 1-800-387-0058. Or write her at the Foundation, 151 Bloor Street
West, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1T6.
Published in Sources, Summer 1993
Sources, 812A Bloor Street West,
Suite 201, Toronto, ON M6G 1L9.
Phone: (416) 964-7799 FAX: (416) 964-8763
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