City of Kingston celebrates local arts with 2023 Mayor’s Arts Awards

Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients at Memorial Hall. Photo via the City of Kingston.

Mayor Bryan Paterson announced the recipients of the 2023 Mayor’s Arts Awards at an event last night, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Memorial Hall at City Hall. The Mayor’s Arts Awards are part of an annual program that celebrates artistic achievement and recognizes extraordinary contributions in and to the arts, according to a release from the City of Kingston.  

“Congratulations to the remarkable artists, organizations and supporters of the arts that we celebrated last night at the Mayor’s Arts Awards reception! Arts and culture enhance our quality of life in Kingston and are a key part of what makes our city so vibrant,” Mayor Paterson said. “It’s always wonderful to come together to honour and recognize the achievement and impact of so many.” 

The City of Kingston’s Arts & Culture Services department administers the Mayor’s Arts Awards program and works with the Kingston Arts Council to document and promote the work of award recipients, including commissioning profile videos. According to the release, the nomination of award recipients is facilitated through the City of Kingston Arts Advisory Committee which established a Council-approved Nominations Working Group. 

The 2023 Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients will be formally recognized by City Council at tonight’s meeting.

2023 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 2023 recipients are: 

Sasha Jimenez French is a multidisciplinary Cuban-American artist, based in Kingston, Ontario. Through her thriving visual arts practice, dance instruction and performance, French is a strong community leader and a driving force for community building in the arts. She teaches at the Kingston School of Dance and is a former Creativity Studio Artist at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning. French’s arts practice is now based in a new studio space in downtown Kingston, where she continues to inspire others, working collaboratively to create opportunities for artists, develop creative projects, and build collective spaces to make art accessible.

Savannah Shea is a Kingston-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist, and poet. She is an active musician in the Kingston community, regularly performing at local venues including as part of her Sunday afternoon weekly series of folk, jazz, blues, and original tunes at Musiikki Café, and at festivals, and events. Shea is community-minded and a true collaborator, frequently working with fellow artists on creative and cross-disciplinary projects and she provides a strong presence for artists seeking live accompaniment or original compositions. 

Blue Canoe Theatrical Productions is a non-profit, community theatre and youth-led organization that creates opportunities for youth under the age of 30 to gain experience in the performing arts by developing a professional, safe, fun, and engaging atmosphere for youth to work together on theatrical productions. Blue Canoe strives to select programming based upon the ability to offer as many opportunities to youth as possible, selecting work that offers an equal opportunity for the youth of various ages with a focus on, but not limited to, musical theatre.  

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 2023 recipient is:  

Jermaine Marshall, who has a Master of Arts in Social Justice and Equity Studies, currently works as the Inclusion and Anti-Racism Advisor in the Queen’s University Human Rights and Equity Office. Performing under the name J-Marsh, Marshall is an independent vocalist and poet whose art weaves together his love for spoken word poetry and free form dancing, often investigating his identity as a proud queer Jamaican within the polarizing atmosphere of his home country. Marshall has been active in organizing Black History Month and Emancipation Day events in the Kingston community and helping to expand the visibility of black artists while encouraging engagement with the community as a whole and advancing spaces for equity and diversity in the city. 

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 2023 recipient is: 

Bronwen Wallace (1945–1989) was a poet, short-story writer, and mentor to many aspiring authors as a creative writing instructor at Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College in Kingston. Born in Kingston, she remained deeply committed to the community she called home most of her life. She was also intensely involved in social activism and feminism as reflected in her work at Kingston Interval House, a shelter for women and children, as well as her weekly column for the Kingston Whig-Standard.

Wallace was recognized in the last decade of her life as a major Canadian poet and a significant figure in the growth of the feminist movement. She was the author of five published collections of poetry from 1980-1991 and in 2020, the Collected Poems of Bronwen Wallace was published posthumously, which featured her published poems, a selection of previously unpublished early work, and an introduction and notes by Kingston writer, Carolyn Smart. As a testament to her continued influence and impact on the writing community, the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers was established in 1994 by a group of friends and colleagues to honour her belief that writers should have more opportunities for recognition early in their careers.

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

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