Simon Jacobs named as Morrin Center’s new executive director

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Photo: Scott French

Simon Jacobs wants to reach out to share more culture

Simon Jacobs has been named as the new executive director of the Morrin Centre, the self-described cultural portal of the heritage of English-speakers in Quebec City operated by the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec.

"Mr. Jacobs brings extraordinary enthusiasm and experience in the cultural sector and we are pleased to officially welcome him to this position, taking effect on June 1," the Morrin Centre said in a news release announcing his appointment last Wednesday.

Jacobs has served as a violinist with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec for the last twenty years and recently was the executive director of Shalom Quebec, a traveling exhibition on Jewish history in Quebec City that was housed at the Gare du Palais as part of Quebec's 400th anniversary.

"We believe that experience gave him a deep understanding on running an organization and raising funds in the private and public sectors," said David Blair, president of the literary and historical society and one of three members who served on the selection committee to fill the post.

Blair said part of the mandate of the new executive director of the Morrin Centre will be to create new programming so that the organization can attract new visitors as reconstruction of the 200-year-old building that once housed two prisons and a Scottish college heads for completion this fall.

"Now that the building is almost finished, we have to ensure that the program will ensure the success of the organization," said Blair.

"We have a solid cultural program, but we have been focused on restoring the building," he added.

"We had fantastic events, but we didn't always have enough people attending. We now need to increase attendance at the events."

The Centre registered an increase in the number of people taking part in its cultural activities and heritage tours last year with a total of 1900 visitors.

Jacobs said he is ready to renew efforts to reach out to the wider Quebec community.

"When I arrived in Quebec City twenty years ago, I thought (the Morrin Center) was one of the crown jewels of Quebec City, but it was unknown," said Jacobs.

"As the English-speaking cultural center of the city, it needs to serve not only the English community but reach out to the wider community as well."

In addition to his activities in the cutural sphere, Jacobs also has experience increasing participation in community organizations.

As president of the Quebec City Jewish Community in 2000, Jacobs oversaw efforts to increase membership and established a Sunday school for Congregation Beth Israel Ohev Sholom.

"We went from a dwindling community, with Rabbi Prager coming from Montreal once a week, to a larger and vibrant one," said Jacobs.

The synagogue, which now counts about 150 members, has had a permanent rabbi for the last four years.

Jacobs will work closely with Patrick Donovan, the interim executive director of the Morrin Centre, until July.

Donovan assumed the position after France Cliche, the former executive director, left last March.

After five years of working with the Morrin Centre, he is leaving to continue pursuing a doctorate in history in Montreal.