City announces 2019 Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients

The Mayor’s Arts Awards reception on Monday, Nov. 2, 2019. Back row (L to R) is the Mayor and the Nominations Working Group: Sarah Tsiang, Andrea Seepersad, Mayor Bryan Paterson, Marney McDiarmid, Marc Garniss. Front Row (L to R) is the 2019 Award recipients: Helen Humphreys, Steve Page (accepting on behalf of his late wife Joanne Page), Don Maynard, Jan Allen, and Mark Sirett. Photo by Claire Bouvier.

Formally recognized at last night’s City Council meeting, and celebrated at a ceremony on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, the City of Kingston has announced this year’s recipients of the Mayor’s Arts Awards.

The Mayor’s Arts Awards celebrate high artistic achievement and recognize extraordinary contributions in and to the arts in Kingston. Administered by the City through the Cultural Services Department in partnership with the Kingston Arts Council, the Mayor’s Arts Awards program documents and promoted the work of the annual award recipients, including the commissioning of profile videos of each recipient. The nomination of award recipients is facilitated through the City of Kingston Arts Advisory Committee, which establishes a Nominations Working Group each year to for the program.

“The arts are such an important contributor to the quality of life in our city. They add to the vitality of our community and help to create an atmosphere that residents and tourists love and enjoy,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson. “That’s why it’s such a pleasure to recognize the individuals who have made significant contributions to the arts in Kingston. A big congratulations to this year’s Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients!”

The 2019 Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients are as follows, broken down by category.

Creator Awards

The Creator Award recognizes living artists, artistic collectives, or arts organizations. Three Creator Awards are given each year to honour artistic merit and/or innovation that advances the arts in the city, contributes to the development of the art form, and expresses the cultural vitality of Kingston. Each recipient receives a cash prize of $2,500, an award and a certificate.

The 2019 Creator Awards recipients are:

Mark Sirett

Sirett is an award-winning conductor, composer, pianist and organist. He is the founding Artistic Director of the Cantabile Choirs of Kingston. Under his direction, the Cantabile Choirs have received numerous distinctions and awards at the regional, national and international levels. In 2009, Sirett was the recipient of the President’s Leadership Award presented by Choirs Ontario for his contribution to the choral art in the province. Sirett will see the Cantabile Choir through 2019-2020 as his final year as Artistic Director.

Helen Humphreys

Humphreys is an acclaimed novelist, poet, and writer of non-fiction and a long-time resident of Kingston. She has won numerous awards, including the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Lambda Prize for Fiction, as well as having her book named a New York Times Notable Book. Humphreys’ best-selling books are known for their wit, humanity, and lyrical styling. Humphreys has also served as the Writer-in-Residence at Queen’s University and was the Poet Laureate for Kingston from 2015 to 2018.

Don Maynard

Maynard is a Kingston-based painter, sculptor and installation artist whose work ranges from encaustic painting to outdoor multi-media public art events. He has exhibited across the country and in the United States. Maynard is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a Chalmers Fellowship, and has been awarded multiple public art commissions by the City of Ottawa and the City of Toronto. For the past two years, he has been working on the Skeye Project, a large-scale public art event in which images, accompanied by live music, are projected on a massive screen that floats in the sky.

Arts Champion Award

The Arts Champion Award recognizes a living individual, organization, or corporation making an extraordinary, leading contribution to the arts in Kingston as a volunteer, advocate, supporter, sponsor and/or philanthropist. The recipient receives an award and certificate.

The 2019 recipient is:

Jan Allen

Allen is the Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (The Agnes) at Queen’s University and a dedicated advocate for the visual and media arts community at the local, regional and national level. She has organized more than 150 exhibitions, earned numerous awards, is published widely, and led the acquisition of numerous works at the Agnes including the recent Rembrandt Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair. Under her guidance, the Agnes became free to all members of the public. In addition to her work at the Agnes, Allen has played a key role in many of Kingston’s arts initiatives that we see implemented today.

Limestone Arts Legacy Award

The Limestone Arts Legacy Award recognizes individuals from the past whose sustained and substantial contributions have built the artistic vitality of the city, nurturing and enabling forms of creation, participation, presentation and enjoyment, whose leadership has inspired others, and whose influence has been felt in the region and beyond. The recipient is recognized with an award and certificate.

The 2019 recipient is:

Joanne Page

A poet, visual artist and columnist, Page started her artistic career as a talented painter. She then spent five years as a columnist for the Kingston Whig-Standard, where she addressed feminist issues of the day in her column ‘In Other Words.’ This formed the catalyst for her career in poetry. She became an active participant in Kingston’s literary community. Page’s outstanding accomplishments include three published books of poetry. The first two books are The River & The Lake (1993) and Persuasion for a Mathematician (2003). Her final book, Watermarks (2008), was nominated for the Trillium Book Award in 2009. Additionally, the Page Lecture Series, an annual event hosted by the Department of English at Queen’s University, honours Page’s life and work each year by inviting a prominent Canadian author to lecture on “the page” – the act of writing, the writing life, and community. Page died in 2015.

To find out more about the Mayor’s Arts Awards, and to view the profile videos of all of this year’s recipients, click here.

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