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City of Kingston celebrates local arts with 2021 Mayor’s Arts Awards

The 2021 Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients. Clockwise from top left: Wally High, Katherine Porter, Marney McDiarmid, Theatre Kingston and Ricky Brant, centre. Images via City of Kingston.

Mayor Bryan Paterson announced the 2021 recipients of the Mayor’s Arts Awards at a ceremony and reception held last night at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning. According to the City of Kingston, the event had a limited in-person audience and was live-streamed on the City’s YouTube channel

Now in its fifth year, the Mayor’s Arts Awards is an annual program that celebrates artistic achievement and recognizes extraordinary contributions in and to the arts, according to a release from the City.  

“The arts have a profound impact on our community and contribute to the quality of life in our city. It’s so important we ensure that the arts and cultural sectors remain central as we work towards recovery from the pandemic,” said Mayor Paterson. “That’s why I’m thrilled to celebrate Kingston artists, arts organizations, and supporters of the arts through this awards program. Thanks to the many gifted artists in Kingston and a big congratulations to this year’s award recipients!”  

At the event, held on the evening of Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, the members of the Nominations Working Group (NWG) who were responsible for selecting the award recipients, were in attendance, the City said. The members of the 2021 Mayor’s Arts Award Nominations Working Group were appointed by Council and include Councillor Jim Neill along with Tim Fort and Nadine Baker from the Arts Advisory Committee as well as community members Kathryn Mackay and Rob Howard and past Mayor’s Arts Awards recipient, Chaka Chikodzi. They introduced the recipients, and five profile videos, created by Josh Lyon, AKAFLK Productions with support from the Kingston Arts Council, were premiered.  

The 2021 Mayor’s Arts Awards winners will also be formally recognized by city council at the meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.  The City provided the following details on each category and recipient.

2021 Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients by category 

Creator Award 

The Creator Award (cash prize of $2,500, award and certificate) 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. The 2021 recipients are:   

Ricky Brant, a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and performer based in Kingston. Over the last several years, Ricky has left his fingerprints on a wide variety of projects in the community, ranging in style from rock and psychedelia to funk and electronic dance. A self-taught guitarist and keyboardist, Ricky has always separated himself from the crowd. Today, Ricky applies his talent and ear to KaKaow, a project that sees him harnessing the power and groove of 70s funk into something new and exciting in the local community.  

Marney McDiarmid, a queer ceramic artist who maintains an active studio practice in Kingston while also teaching and exhibiting work across Canada. Her one-of-a-kind slab-built pieces are lively and dynamic, often exploring ecological themes. As an artist and activist, she seeks to elicit moments of exploration, play, and hopefulness.  

Theatre Kingston, the city’s longest-standing professional theatre company that, under the successive leadership of Paul Gelineau, Kathryn MacKay, Kathleen Leroux, Craig Walker, Kim Renders, Brett Christopher and (currently) Rosemary Doyle, has brought consistently innovative work to Kingston and the larger region. Producing a mixture of modern and classical plays, including many new works developed by the company for world premieres in Kingston, the company now embarks on its 30th season with a strong mandate to continue its outreach to all audiences and its goal to foster and develop local artists. Theatre Kingston’s focus on giving a creative voice to all members of the community, both onstage and through its education programs, reinforces its ongoing status as an important regional arts leader.

Arts Champion Award  

The Arts Champion Award (award and certificate) recognizes a living individual, organization or corporation who makes an extraordinary, leading contribution to the arts in Kingston as a volunteer, advocate, supporter, sponsor and/or philanthropist. The 2021 recipient is:   

Katherine Porter, a practicing professional artist and Executive Director of H’ART Centre who brings a lifetime of experience and skills in the fields of art and business. Her expertise is connecting like-minded advocates, artists, funders, thinkers, and community services in order to develop affordable, available, and accessible creative arts opportunities in the community. After decades of work in the field, she and a committed and growing group of supporters remain dedicated to facing down barriers to the arts for all people in Kingston and beyond.  

Limestone Arts Legacy Award  

The Limestone Arts Legacy Award (award and certificate) recognizes individuals of 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 2021 recipient is: 

Wally High (1948-2008), a Kingstonian, born and raised, he had a dedicated following in Kingston and all over North America as a talented musician, actor, and entrepreneur. Wally’s drive to share his love of music and to support and promote Kingston musicians led him to create the Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Instrument Lending library, the first of its kind, in honour of his late friend.  

For more information about the Mayor’s Arts Awards and to view the profile videos of current and past recipients please visit www.CityofKingston.ca/city-hall/kingston-awards/mayors-arts-awards 

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