Q&A with Diane Chisholm, new CAO
On March 4, 2016, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia announced the appointment of Diane Chisholm to the role of Chief Advancement Officer (CAO).
A senior development professional with a significant network and strong track record, Diane will lead a strategic review of fundraising at the Gallery and prepare a case for support for a capital campaign.
Diane joins the Gallery from Dalhousie University, where she was Senior Development Officer, Office of the Vice-President and the Schulich School of Law. During her 12-year tenure, she championed numerous development initiatives and was a major contributor in the recent success of the Bold Ambitions campaign, in which Dalhousie University raised over $280 million.
And did we mention she also studied at NSCAD? Discover more about Diane and her go-getting vision for the Gallery in our exclusive interview.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have worked in many fields and have a BA from Carleton University in English literature, and studied mixed media and sculpture at NSCAD in the 1980s. My professional experience spans advertising, where I worked at J. Walter Thompson Ltd. in Toronto, then working in sales, and most recently as a fundraiser.
For the past 12 years, I have been a Senior fundraiser at Dalhousie University, where I worked with the Schulich School of Law through the successful Bold Ambitions Campaign. The campaign was quite a learning experience—it gave me an understanding of the kind of planning and strategy you need for successful fundraising. I also had an opportunity to work with national corporations on a number of projects, and also with the national arts community on the Dalhousie Arts Centre Expansion campaign. The latter particularly awakened my interest in working in fundraising within the arts.
What role has art played in your life?
Attending the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the 1980s was a pivotal moment for me. It was really a game changer. Learning about and creating art offered me a lens through which I was able to discover new ways of seeing the world, and to directly engage with art.
Dianne Chisholm, Chief Advancement Officer and Lisa Bugden, Director and CEO, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Photo: Steve Farmer.
Why do you think the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is so important to the province?
We know the Gallery is the seminal repository of the legacy of art for the province of Nova Scotia and the region. It allows people to experience important works by both local and internationally respected artists from around the world.
The experience of engaging with art is essential not only to Nova Scotians, but also to visitors who are attracted to the cultural works displayed there. The Gallery is truly one of our key cultural institutions.
What’s your vision for the Gallery?
I think this is an exciting time for Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Atlantic region. For example, we’ve recently seen the success of the new Halifax Central Library in creating a dynamic gathering space that works.
For the Gallery, there is an opportunity to build another cultural hub as a powerful and unique showcase for our cultural Nova Scotian heritage, and to connect the public to new ideas through engaging with art.
I think there’s a lot of support for the Gallery’s vision as a hub, and also a must-see destination location for tourists and other visitors. I am proud to be chosen to be part of the team working to bring this vision to reality!
Diane Chisholm, Chief Advancement Officer, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Photo: Steve Farmer.