Céline Choiselat from The Montreal Museum of Fine Art thinks millennials have completely changed the philanthropy game by making it a lifestyle choice. Discover what it’s like to be an assistant director of a community of millennial philanthropists in Montréal.
Tell the Notable readers about your career
I am the assistant director of the Philanthropists’ Circles development at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation. My role is to amplify the Circles’ notoriety in order to increase awareness of professionals, business people and art lovers to the exclusive and creative privileges associated with being a member of these unique Circles.
What do you look for in members, and how do you support and guide them?
Philanthropy is growing strong on the cultural scene. It has the power to bring together donors who share the same values and those who wish to participate in the financing of major projects of the Museum.
Members are eager to get involved and to support the mission of the Museum, such as the development and promotion of the collections and the exhibits as well as facilitate access to the Museum, support social actions, educational projects and art therapy.
My role is to educate them about the Museum’s mission, be responsive and establish close links between us to create an atmosphere of trust, in order to help them better identify their philanthropic intentions. The Circles fulfill a need by offering a platform for the donor who wishes to make a philanthropic gesture and be able to make a real difference while networking amongst people who share the same interests and want to learn more about art.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
When I was 20 years old I discovered the world of public relations at the Opera National de Paris as part of my studies of Sociology of culture. That role inspired everything that followed, and my drive to communicate my passion for the need for culture. When I arrived in Montreal, I accepted a position as a press agent for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and it was there that I discovered public relations, through events like the departure of Charles Dutoit and the inauguration of the Maison Symphonique of Montreal. The change in my career trajectory toward philanthropy came to me naturally, to sensitize, raise awareness and illuminate how art is essential to human lives.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
In Montreal, the cultural supply is rich. Donors are sought after and even though health and educational needs are important, art is also essential.
How do you define success?
When the Circles accompany a donor in every moment of his/her life, “a life of a philanthropist at the museum.” And that he/she is proud to be making a difference in society.
What advice would you give to others looking to get involved in Philanthropy?
Philanthropy is a lifestyle choice. As community members, we have to help facilitate access to art to the highest number of people — to participate, to contribute, to get involved, to share, to make a difference, and to be an ambassador for a cause we care about. It gives meaning to our lives.
How are millennials changing the game when it comes to Philanthropy and donating?
The millennial generation has a large influence in the current landscape of philanthropy. They are “influencers” with amazing abilities to convince and enlist future philanthropists. Thanks to their exponential network and their ease of communication via social networks, millennials are real ambassadors who are able to unite philanthropists around the same values.
The Circle of Young Philanthropists of the Museum of Fine Arts is a good example of accomplishment. The 500 members of the Circle want to get involved differently, support contemporary art exhibits and be aware of the real outcomes of their donations. The executive committee is really active and plans entertaining events but also more intimate ones through gallery talk with, for example, museum curators. There are seven annual events that focus on exclusivity, uniqueness and the “behind the scenes,” a series of not-to-be-missed events!