Helen Pitt Fund Bursaries & Awards

Helen Pitt Fund for Fine Arts was established in 1961 to aid Visual Art students through bursaries, scholarships and awards.  For these purposes, preference will be given to the disciplines of painting, which was Mrs. Pitt’s particular stipulation, as well as sculpture, printmaking, drawing and photography.

Helen Pitt, a resident of Vernon, was inspired to establish the fund after attending a high school graduation ceremony when “it struck me that there was a hole in the fabric, that in the varied number presented, there was not one for an art student.  As I am especially interested in painting and have thought keenly of the need to encourage and help those who want to pursue a career in the fine arts…I decided to do my bit.”  In 1961, she established the Helen Pitt Fund for Fine Arts which grew substantially through her lifetime and, after her death in 1976, with a bequest from her estate.  In the past 44 years, the fund has provided over $1.5 million to students in support of their education and the advancement of their careers in the visual arts.

The Fund has 3 components: the Secondary Program provides renewable scholarships to students graduating from the Vernon School District; the Bursary Program which provides financial aid to visual arts students; and the Graduating Year Awards program which provides an award of $1000 to students of outstanding merit graduating from a degree program in the visual arts.  The Bursary Program and the Graduating Year Awards are available to students at Emily Carr Institute, Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University, University of British Columbia (Vancouver and Okanagan campuses), and University of Victoria.

Vancouver Foundation, which administers the fund according to wishes and instructions of Mrs. Pitt, is a community foundation that was founded in 1943.  The Helen Pitt Fund for Fine Arts is one of over 850 different funds with a total capital of over $585 million.  As a community foundation, it serves the whole of British Columbia, providing grants to charitable organizations, as directed by donors; from discretionary funds in the fields of Education; Children, Youth and Families; Environment; Health and Social Development; Medical Research; Animal Welfare; Arts and Culture; and the newly established 4 Pillars Fund.  To learn more about Vancouver Foundation please visit our website at

Your passion for the visual arts, and the opportunity to pursue it, was the wish and the legacy of Helen Pitt.  We wish you every success in your artistic practice and the achievement of your dreams.

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