Arts Supporter Profile – Sandy Garossino

This is the first in a series of posts profiling British Columbian arts supporters from across the province. It is a little known fact that much of the muscle behind this fight for a proper level of BC arts funding does not come from artists and arts professionals. It comes in fact from arts supporters—committed, interested members of the audience. These are people who want to live somewhere with a vibrant identity of its own. Each of these highly successful individuals has contributed significant volunteer time and energy to building arts and culture in this province, and this series of profiles serves as a reminder that the fight for arts funding is not the self-interested agitation of a bunch of artists but in fact a much larger struggle for a better British Columbia.

Our first profile is of Sandy Garossino, a board member of the Alliance for Arts in Vancouver and volunteer chair of its Advocacy Task Force. Despite also working full-time, she has stuck with this fight for over a year.

Sandy Garossino comes from the business community to chair the Alliance Advocacy Committee.  Originally from small town Alberta and a lawyer by training, she formerly owned and operated 3 Metro Vancouver taxi companies–at the time one of the largest privately held taxi fleets in Canada.  Using technology developed in Richmond, Garossino’s companies pioneered the use of computerized taxi dispatch in North America.  Since the sale of those businesses, she has been active in private investments and incubating businesses through global partnerships, primarily in Asia.

Garossino sits on the SFU India Advisory Council and has ties to UBC’s Asia strategy.  She has been involved in arts governance for over 15 years, sitting on the boards of the Writers Festival, Public Dreams, and co-chairing the Vancouver Biennale.  She currently advises the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, and sits on the board of the Alliance for Arts.

Garossino believes in culture’s often unseen yet powerful role in shaping the destiny of a city, a region, and a nation.

Look at New York City.  150 years ago there was money there, and little else.  Vision and will turned New York into one of the greatest cultural centres on the planet.  And it is culture that underpins its position of global influence and impact.  Culture draws power, talent, energy, and excitement.  It drives human potential and achievement, usually through our collective unconscious.  And it is the foundation of the shared experience that make for harmonious, happy lived environments both urban and rural.

When leaders ignore the power of attraction–unknowingly they relegate their region to obscurity and the second rate.

These years are critical to BC.  We face a new, and largely uncertain future, with seismic shifts in global power that will profoundly affect our fate–sooner than most of us realize.  In myriad ways, our destiny will be shaped by forces we cannot see or know–and to a surprisingly large extent by a very few individuals who influence us with a single, very personal choice: to build their futures here or in some other, more attractive place.

It’s a big world out there, and we are in a global competition for the best and the brightest in everything.  Our cultural policies should reflect an awareness of that competition, put us in the game, and at their core, do something much more important:  shape our own identity.”

Next profile: Yulanda Faris.

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