2009 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts

2009 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts Last night Sharon and I attended the 22nd annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts at the Winspear Centre. The annual awards ceremony recognizes members of the local arts community, and features a number of performances. As I said last year, it’s a good way to sample the variety offered by Edmonton’s arts scene.

We were fortunate enough to get tickets to the pre-ceremony reception from Bryan Cox of Molson, one of the event’s sponsors and long-time supporter of the arts community. It was great to meet Bryan and his colleague Ferg Devins. You can read about all of the things they are doing at the Molson in the Community blog.

The reception was held at The Citadel, in an area we’ve never been to (upstairs with the waterfall). It was a really great venue! We had some wine, sampled the food, and took in the sights and sounds. There were lots of recognizable faces in the crowd, including the Mayor himself, a number of City Councillors, and many of the people that keep Edmonton’s arts community interesting and growing.

The main event was held in the wonderful Enmax Hall at the Winspear Centre. Once again we purchased tickets for the Upper Circle and sat in the middle of the front row, which gave us a great view of the entire venue. It seemed as though there were less people in attendance than there were last year, but it was still a fairly big crowd (and the foyer was packed at intermission). CBC’s Peter Brown and CTV’s Carrie Doll once again emceed the event, and they did a great job.

You can view the full list of nominees in this PDF file. Here are the winners:

The Mayor’s Award for Sustained Support of the Arts
See Magazine, nominated by Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture

The Mayor’s Award for Innovative Support by a Business for the Arts
CIBC, nominated by the Citadel Theatre

The John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts
Ellis Brother’s Photography, nominated by the Arts Touring Alliance

The City of Edmonton Book Prize
Jack W. Brink, Athabasca University Press

The Stantec Youth Artist Award
Roydon Tse, nominated by Ross Sheppard School

TELUS Courage to Innovate Award
Rising Sun Theatre, nominated by Gerry Potter

The Molson Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction
Shelley Switzer, nominated by Bottom Line Productions

The Northlands Award for an Emerging Artist
Kristy Trinier, nominated by the Art Gallery of Alberta

The Sutton Place Hotel People’s Choice Award
Jonathan Kaiser

ATCO Gas Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement
Timothy Ryan, nominated by MacEwan Centre for the Arts

Performers included:

  • Jeremy Spurgeon, who opened the show on the Winspear’s massive organ.
  • The Be Arthurs, who performed covers of Toxic by Britney Spears and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  • The Raving Poets, who shared three poems set to music.
  • Chris Craddock & Nathan Cuckow, who performed a piece from their gay rap opera, Bash’d.
  • Ann Vriend, who sang three songs at the piano, including a cover of Queen’s We Are The Champions.
  • John Cameron, who encouraged the audience to sing along to a cover of Niel Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.
  • KO Dance Project, who performed an interesting interpretive dance.
  • Bomba!, a latin-jazz group who closed out the show.

My favorite performances were The Be Arthurs and Chris Craddock & Nathan Cuckow – very entertaining! I’m very glad I had the opportunity to see them perform, and wouldn’t hesitate to attend one of their shows in the future. Ann Vriend is definitely talented, but I think I liked Samantha Schultz better last year. I also thought the performances weren’t as varied as last year, which featured theatre in addition to musical numbers.

We were surprised that the event ran past 10pm, especially considering they seemed to be running at a decent pace before the intermission. Still, it was entertaining and enjoyable. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

You can see my tweets from the event here, and my photoset is here.