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Date: March 11, 2004

Longtime Victoria arts supporters leave valuable legacy to UVic

UVic fine arts students will benefit from a $230,000 gift from the estate of longtime Victoria arts supporters, Maurice Johnson and Audrey St. Denys-Johnson. The bequest to UVic’s faculty of fine arts will establish five annual scholarships of approximately $2,000 each, for one student in each of the five fine arts departments: music, theatre, history in art, writing and visual arts.

“Audrey and Maurice were extraordinary people, and life-long friends of the faculty. They have supported our students for decades. This gift will further support the creative potential of students for generations to come,” says Dr. Giles Hogya, dean of fine arts.

The Audrey St. Denys and Maurice E. Johnson Scholarships in Fine Arts will honour a couple with a life-long appreciation of the arts.

Maurice Johnson grew up in Sooke and, as a young man, lived and worked in Malaya. During the second world war he was a machine-gunner with the 4th Panang Battalion during the Japanese attack. He took part in the retreat to Singapore, and on the eve of its capture, was ordered to leave on one of the last escape boats. Johnson returned to Canada to join the Canadian Army, became a member of the Canadian Intelligence Corps and was sent back to Malaya as a captain. Following his return to Victoria he earned his BA at UVic and his law degree at UBC. Johnson practiced law until his retirement. He loved theatre, music and gardening.

Audrey St. Denys not only shared her husband’s love of theatre and music, she was a highly regarded theatre critic, writing the arts column for the Victoria Times from 1944 to 1980 and the Victoria Times Colonist until 1987, while witnessing the maturation of Victoria’s key artistic people and institutions. Her documentation of the growth of the UVic theatre department was also extensive and her husband donated her papers to UVic in 1995, two years after her passing. The documents provided the basis for her biography Arts Beat, The Arts in Victoria, written by former UVic education professor Dr. Dale McIntosh.

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Media contacts:
Dr. Giles Hogya, (Fine Arts) at (250) 721-7755
Chris Thackray (UVic Development Communications) at (250) 721-6247 or thackray@uvic.ca


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