Donor Spotlight: Michael Hedden with Dignity Memorial

Donor Spotlight: Michael Hedden with Dignity Memorial

This February, for our Donor Spotlight, Natalie Schneck, our Development Associate connected with Michael Hedden of Dignity Memorial.

Thank you so much for joining us in this edition of The Cultch’s Donor Spotlight, I am delighted to interview you, Michael!

How and when did you first get involved with The Cultch?

Jamie and I attended a performance with our dear friends and former neighbors, Maureen and Bob. We were so impressed and invigorated with the quality of the performance, that we made a conscious decision to see as many of the remaining performances of that season. What a revelation to find this gem in our city. As a patron, I feel as if I belong to something bigger. Sitting in that audience, I become part of this cathartic ebb and flow of the human experience. I believe storytelling in all of its artistic forms is vital to understanding ones journey as an individual, as a family and a community.

Please tell us a little about the work you do with Dignity Memorial:

As a funeral professional, I facilitate and help families tell the story of their loved one who has passed on. I provide a platform upon which a family can build a tribute that incorporates cultural, religious and personal preferences that directly reflect and honour the person who has lived. Through spoken word, music, and imagery we bring people together to express our loss, love and gratitude for the person we are remembering. I currently manage our Ocean View property located in Burnaby.

Michael, was there a turning point when you realized The Cultch is an organization
that fits the altruistic mandate and community mindedness of Dignity
Memorial?

With my reference to storytelling it was an obvious fit right from the start. I am privileged to work for a company that encourages its employees to participate in the community we live and work in. I believe it is imperative that when able, one’s philanthropy benefit a diverse community. Funding for the arts is vital to our wellbeing and contributes to a healthier community.

Recently, Dignity Memorial became an integral part of our Legacy Giving
program – Can you tell us what this means to you and how it aligns with The
Cultch and its future growth?

Legacy Giving is an undeniable way to make sure that your support for The Cultch continues after you are gone. Let us be honest, you cannot take your money with you when you die. As individuals, we have the opportunity to make a meaningful statement that reflects ones commitment to the arts in life and in death.

Do you feel that Dignity Memorial’s partnership with The Cultch is creative? In what ways?

I don’t know that the partnership is creative per say, but I am proud of the fact that through our continued sponsorship and support, Dignity Memorial and The Cultch are able to showcase the Arts, in all of its glory, to our community and makes it accessible to as many people as possible. Together, I would like to think we bring the best of performance art to Vancouver.

Has there been a Cultch show that you just can’t forget?

Oh, that is a tough one; there have been many for sure. Two still resonate with me, Big Mouth in 2016 and La Merde in 2017. So inspiring that I still get goose bumps when I think of them.

Finally, what are you curious about right now?

I continue to be fascinated and curious about the way in which we communicate with each other in today’s world. It comes back to that ebb and flow of the human experience. Acknowledgement, humility, acceptance, forgiveness…I believe we are all part of the story; it is exciting to think about how we influence the outcome.

Thank you!


As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today! Contact Natalie Schneck, Development Associate: natalie@thecultch.com; 604.251.1766 x.121
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

Funeral home partners up with The Cultch for Grim & Fischer

By Ricky Choi

Death meets his match in Mrs. Fischer, a tenacious granny not ready to breathe her last breath.

This week, Grim & Fischer (the 2011 recipient of the Cultchivating the Fringe Award) makes its Vancouver return! Visiting us from Portland, Oregon, this surreal but tenderly presented work of imagination and whimsy brings us one woman’s fight for survival in a showdown with Death himself. Something that you may not have known is that Dignity Memorial, a funeral service provider, is the production sponsor for Grim & Fischer. We were lucky enough to catch up with Forest Lawn & Ocean View Funeral Homes’ General Manager Michael Hedden to find out about his experience at Dignity Memorial, and why this partnership is such a good fit.

Could you tell us about Dignity Memorial and your role as general manager?

Forest Lawn & Ocean View Funeral Homes’ General Manager Michael Hedden

Dignity Memorial is a network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. All of our services are designed to help families through one of the most personal and challenging stages of life. We understand losing a loved one is an emotional and difficult experience, and we are committed to helping families with compassionate, professional and personal service. As the General Manager of two funeral homes and a crematorium under the Dignity brand I am responsible for leading a team dedicated to helping families honour a life lived.

As the production sponsor for Grim & Fischer, what role do you see Dignity Memorial playing in supporting the arts?

At Dignity Memorial we believe every life has a unique and special story to tell. The arts represent a form of story telling, so it’s really a natural fit. When we celebrate a life lived we perform traditional ceremony, we listen to music and reflect on visuals all with the intention of honouring a unique journey.

Did you ever imagine that Dignity Memorial would be involved with an arts organisation? How did this process take shape?

Dignity Memorial is an active participant in the Arts community with sponsorship and collaboration with dance companies, theatre and music. Living life to its fullest means getting out there and participating in the communities we live in. Our dedicated staff not only support the arts but participate in local theatre, bands, community charities and wellness activities.

What are some misconceptions about working in the funeral business?

Common misconceptions? Well most people forget that funerals are really for the living.

In Grim & Fischer, an aging grandmother is pit against the Grim Reaper and must confront the inevitable question that we all face: what is it to know your end is nigh? Do you wish to share any insight into this question?

Well, here’s the thing about being a funeral professional, seldom do I actually meet the person for whom we are creating a service for. I meet their family and loved ones and through the creation of a service gain insight into who they were and how they lived their life. Personally, when it’s my time I hope to be exhausted from fully participating in a rich meaningful existence.

For more information on Dignity Memorial please visit: www.dignitymemorial.ca

Grim & Fischer runs at The Cultch until January 13. Tickets are $30 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.