Jan 7, 2021

Former Winnipegger’s career hits new high note – WFP

“When locally born director Michael Cavanagh packs his bag for Stockholm next summer, he’ll be living out his dreams while marking a major career milestone.

Now based in London, Ont., the 59-year-old artist, who grew up in River Heights, has recently been appointed the new artistic director for the venerable 248-year old Royal Swedish Opera (RSO), regarded as one of the world’s greatest opera houses.

“It’s a huge honour and I just feel so much gratitude, and also this enormous sense of responsibility for this job, which is really fantastic,” says the effervescent director, who assumes the reins from retiring artistic director and CEO Birgitta Svendén this August for a  five-year tenure.

“It’s not just a national opera company, but it’s a royal opera company with all this incredible history,” he says, anticipating the opportunity to put his own creative stamp on what he calls this “big, beautifully run organization.”

As one of Canada’s most sought-after directors, the prolific Cavanagh has helmed more than 150 productions at more than 30 companies across North America and parts of Europe, including Vancouver Opera, San Francisco Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Kansas City Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and naturally, Manitoba Opera, as well as serving as artistic director for Edmonton Opera between 1998 and 2001.”

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Nov 23, 2020


November 11 was a very special day for Dr. Douglas MacEwan and four lucky arts organizations. It marks the day that Dr. MacEwan not only completed on schedule, but surpassed, his “Walk for the Arts” challenge of walking 96 km in order to raise $96,000 for the arts!

In total, he walked 109 km and raised $124,107 (to date). This World War II veteran also celebrated his 96th birthday on Remembrance Day as well.

With Code Red pandemic restrictions in place, celebration plans were cancelled and Dr. MacEwan was accompanied by just family for his final walk.

“Dr. MacEwan has inspired us all with his audacious goal, his determination and grit, and his willingness to dig in and find a way to help something he cares deeply about,” commented Larry Desrochers, Manitoba Opera’s General Director & CEO, speaking on behalf of the four recipient organizations.

Donations raised include $100,000 from the anonymous sponsor of this challenge and $24,107 raised, to date, from individual donations. Funds will be split between Manitoba Opera (MO), Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC), Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO).

“I am very happy to have reached my goal and to have inspired others to donate to the campaign,” said Dr. MacEwan. “And to have been joined on my daily walks by so many artists and other hard-working members of our artistic community was such a treat!”

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Sep 10, 2020


Winnipeg arts lover, Dr. Douglas MacEwan, is soon turning 96, but nothing is slowing him down when it comes to supporting his favourite arts groups. He has taken on a challenge people half his age wouldn’t even consider: walking one kilometer every day for 96 days in order to raise $96,000 to be divided evenly between Winnipeg’s four major performing arts organizations – Manitoba Opera, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

Born in Ottawa, ON, this WWII veteran trained as a medical doctor specializing in radiology and moved to Winnipeg in 1966 to work at the HSC/University of Manitoba. He cares deeply about the arts in the city he has called home for years. When the pandemic hit and stages went black, he knew he wanted to help to ensure the footlights shine again and performers are able to return to the stage when the time is right.

“I wanted to do something to ensure that future generations, including my eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, grow up in a city with a thriving performing arts community,” explains Dr. MacEwan.

An anonymous sponsor has agreed to donate $500 for every kilometer Dr. MacEwan walks, plus an additional $500 for each day he finds someone to walk with. Dr. MacEwan makes sure to take a selfie with his walking buddies, and his daughter, Eleanor, is assembling a book to commemorate the project.

By the time Dr. MacEwan finishes his challenge on November 11 – his 96th birthday – he will have raised a total of $96,000 for the performing arts in Winnipeg. As an extra incentive, if Dr. MacEwan completes the challenge, the sponsor has offered to round up the donation to $100,000.

“Dr. MacEwan is a very compassionate, caring individual and is an inspiration to us all,” commented Larry Desrochers, Manitoba Opera’s General Director & CEO, speaking on behalf of the four recipient organizations. “He has been a long-standing patron of all our organizations; he has been attending Manitoba Opera productions since 1972 when we were in our infancy. To take on such a challenge at any age, but certainly as a nonagenarian is truly remarkable and deserves our deepest respect. That he has chosen to do this for Winnipeg’s arts community is very inspiring.”


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