Douglas Riske led the Manitoba Arts Council as Executive Director from 1998 to 2015, a period of significant change in the local, provincial and national cultural sectors. This experience, knowledge and understanding coupled with over 25 years as an artistic director, producer, executive director and senior cultural manager has prepared him for the challenges of a changing landscape in Canada’s cultural sector.
The Manitoba Arts Council, a provincial crown agency, distributes over eight million dollars to professional artists and arts organizations in Manitoba through fifty programs. Two years after arriving at the Council, Mr. Riske developed a transition process for a new Board of Directors given a change in government. This significant change management process demanded balancing the vision of a new Council while maintaining regular program delivery and developing new directions.
Based on his experience as the head of various performing arts organizations Mr. Riske spearheaded the development of a new multi-party funding agreement for key organizations in the community. This agreement required self-assessment, full participation by a company’s Board and staff, and if necessary, collaboration by all stakeholders. The process proved to be crucial in the recovery and/or stabilization of key organizations. He was instrumental in the development of a “suite” of artist residencies in Manitoba, Canada, the United States and France open to individual artists from all disciplines.
Mr. Riske was a key player in the proposal for the creation of the Canadian Public Arts Funders, a national organization serving fourteen provincial, territorial and federal public arts agencies across Canada with a commitment to collaboration and shared research. He chaired the Steering Committee for three years and remained active as Past Chair while continuing to represent MAC at national and international cultural gatherings. As ED of the Council, he participated in ongoing funders’ tri-level quarterly meetings designed to review and share information regarding changes and challenges in the arts community. He also acted as General Manager of the Manitoba Foundation for the Arts, a Foundation dedicated to innovative support for arts organizations across the province.
As an Artistic Director, in 1967 he co-founded one of the first professional theatre for young audiences in Canada followed by Alberta Theatre Projects in 1972, a company that continues to produce new Canadian work in Calgary. During his 11 years with ATP, he was involved in the development, planning and design stages of the Calgary Performing Arts Centre. He also co-founded Banff Centre’s Playwrights Colony, was Artistic Director of Sunshine Theatre, Kelowna, B.C. and Artistic Director of Victoria’s New Bastion Theatre Company.
In 1996 he became Executive Director of the Yukon Arts Centre Corporation and was responsible for overall operation of the major purpose-built arts centre in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. He negotiated the first union agreement for the Centre while developing and building community and professional theatre and gallery programs.
Mr. Riske trained at the Banff School of Fine Arts and the University of Alberta, Theatre Dept. plus studied theatre and arts education in England and Europe. Professional development included the Banff Centre for Management/Executive Leadership Intensive, Board and Management retreats, Haines Center Certificate in Strategic Planning plus various arts and cultural leadership institutes. He received the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal 1977, recognizing contribution and excellence of work in the community and cultural sector and the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation, 1992 recognizing a significant contribution to the citizens and communities of Canada.