(From left: Jessica Wilson, Patrick Little, Rebecca Cann, Patricia Vanstone, Shauna Macleod, and Derek Knight. - Melinda Cheevers/Metroland)
St. Catharines arts community recognized at annual awards show
6 awards doled out at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
The arts community came together Monday evening to celebrate their own at the annual City of St. Catharines Arts Awards.
Held in the Cairns Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, the evening was an opportunity for the St. Catharines arts and culture advisory committee to celebrate the contributions of the arts community in the Garden City.
“Tonight is about celebrating the arts,” said Mayor Walter Sendzik during the evening’s opening remarks. “You see the artists who are doing the amazing work in our community … Whatever the medium in which they chose, they — arts and artists — live here in our community.”
In all, six awards were handed out throughout the evening, with past Emerging Artist Award winner David Green acting as MC for the night.
In accepting his Patron of the Arts Award, Patrick Little said the key to arts support is not a single patron, it is many patrons.
“Those here tonight show the need, the desire, and the benefit of participating in arts, even as spectators,” he said.
In 1985, when educator Derek Knight was on the hunt for a job, he was offered positions at two schools: Concordia University in Montreal and Brock University here in St. Catharines.
“Now some 33 years later, I’m proud to say I’m still here and I’m so happy I chose Brock University,” said the Arts in Education Award winner.
Knight reflected on the impact art had on his childhood, a theme picked up later in the night by one of the two Emerging Artist winners, Jessica Wilson.
“If there’s one thing any of you takes away from tonight, I want it to be that arts funding for young people is really, really important,” said the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. “Without funding for young people, I would not be here. I would not get to wake up and do what I love every single day.”
(Patricia Vanstone performing a scene from Hilda's Yard, 2018)
Marinko Jareb, a self-taught multidisciplinary visual artist and DJ, was the other Emerging Artist winner but couldn’t make it to the awards ceremony.
While accepting the Established Artist Award, Patricia Vanstone of the Foster Festival joked that it should have been called the “I’m Still Standing Award." She thanked her family, including her parents whom she credited with instilling in her a sense of giving back to the community. She was also quick to acknowledge her fellow nominees.
“In learning about everyone nominated across the board, I was just gob smacked by the amount of talent that I found myself nominating among,” she said, adding she was humbled to have won.
The city’s first culture supervisor, who retired at the end of 2017, Rebecca Cann was honoured with the Making a Difference Award. The recognition, she said, is very special and the awards have a very important place in her heart.
“I think everyone working or playing in the arts makes a difference, but this year my fellow nominees truly embody why I do what I do. Why I’m passionate about the arts,” she said, before remarking on each of the nominees. “We are so fortunate as a community to have all of you. When I came to St. Catharines 18 years ago, it was the vibrancy of the arts community that made me want to stay.”
While the art awards have been around since 2005, a new feature was added in 2017 allowing the jury to select a nominee from any category to receive the Jury’s Pick Award. This year, it was Making a Difference nominee Shauna MacLeod that was recognized for her work as founder and director of the Willow Community Support Services.
Throughout the evening Arts Awards nominees Tenja Hagenberg, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Paul Koshty of the Willow Community, Wilson, Vanstone and Melissa-Marie Shriner performed live and incidental music for the evening was provided by Jareb.
Each award recipient received a handcrafted award and $500 to support future projects. Emerging Artist recipients receive a civic certificate in lieu of the handcrafted award and the $500 allotted to the Patron of the Arts Award is donated to an arts organization or charity of the recipient’s choice.
Arts Awards winners were selected by a jury comprised of Colin Bruce Anthes, Emma German and Bob Henderson.
by Melinda Cheevers
Melinda Cheevers is a reporter for Niagara this Week covering north Niagara. She also edits Niagara Life magazine.
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