The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation was established in 2003 by Jenny Belzberg, and the late Tommy Banks, the late Fil Fraser and the late John Poole under the patronage of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta at the time, Lois Hole.

Her Honour Lois Hole shaped the vision for the arts awards insisting they should promote the arts in every corner of the province. As a result, the Distinguished Artist Awards Gala is held in a different Alberta community each time. In a 2003 speech, Mrs. Hole summed up her philosophy. “It is only through education and art — through music, through books, through theatre — that we will find the wisdom to trade hate for compassion, to trade competition for co-operation. Education and the fine arts engage the human mind, forcing us to think in new ways, forcing us to use our most powerful tool for progress: our imagination.”

To ensure Alberta’s “most powerful tool for progress” would be sustained through good economic times and bad, Banks, Belzberg, Fraser and Poole, solicited government and philanthropic contributions to establish the endowment that funds the awards today.