The Mayor’s Arts Awards is an annual recognition program that celebrates artistic achievement as well as extraordinary support for and contributions to the arts. By increasing the profile for the arts in Kingston, the Mayor’s Arts Awards affirms the value of the arts as a source of creativity, innovation and pride and nurtures the sustained development of the cultural sector to the benefit of all Kingston residents.
Recipients of the 2021 Mayor's Arts Award were announced and recognized on Monday, December 6 at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning. The event was held live and broadcasted on The City of Kingston's YouTube channel. A recording of the event can be found here.
Ricky Brant is 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 and morphing it into something new and exciting for the local community.
Marney McDiarmid is 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 is the city’s longest standing professional theatre company, which, 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.
Katherine Porter is a practicing professional artist and the Executive Director of H’ART Centre. She 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 taking down barriers to the arts for all people in Kingston and beyond.
Wally High (1948-2008) was a Kingstonian, born and raised, who 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.
Kay Kenney is a professional contemporary dancer and choreographer based in Kingston. After years of training with the Kingston School of Dance, Kay moved to Ottawa in 2009, to train in the Professional Contemporary Dance Programme at The School of Dance. Her performance and choreographic accomplishments since graduation and her work in Kingston, Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa are impressive indicators of her dedication to advancing the art of dance. In 2018, Kay moved back to Kingston where shares her passion for innovative creation and performance through professional dance and movement instruction from her new studio in Portsmouth Village. Watch Kay's video here.
Chaka Chikodzi is a Zimbabwe-born Canadian sculptor who has been living and working in Kingston for the past decade. A talented stone carver, he imaginatively adapts the traditions of Zimbabwe to the Canadian context, using dense, beautifully figured volcanic rock to create dramatic forms. His work has been exhibited and collected across Canada, and he has been active in arts education in the schools, a camp for urban youth, and with newcomer youth. In 2015, he undertook a residency at the National Gallery Zimbabwe (Bulawayo) with the support of the Ontario Arts Council. Watch Chaka's video here.
The Kingston Symphony Orchestra is a professional orchestra that under the leadership of Music Director Evan Mitchell and General Manager Andrea Haughton, has excelled in making orchestral music meaningful to modern audiences. Its various outreach and education programs bring music to a broad and increasingly diverse audience, providing new relevance to the music of the past while championing the works of Canadian composers, women, and ethnically under-represented composers. Watch The Kingston Symphony Orchestra's video here.
Bruce Kauffman is a poet, editor, radio host, open-mic and other events organizer, and general nurturer of poetic talent. He has published four collections and four chapbooks, and edited eight literary anthologies. Kauffman's monthly open-mic reading series, begun in 2009, maintains a large and devoted following. His weekly literary radio show, "finding a voice," has aired on CFRC since 2010. Last year, Bruce was profiled in a feature-length documentary of Kingston's poetry community entitled "Who is Bruce Kauffman?" Watch Bruce's video here.
Daniel David Moses (1952–2020) was a highly respected dramaturge, editor, essayist, teacher, and writer-in-residence with institutions across the country. Along with being an award-winning playwright and poet, Daniel was unique in his position as a First Nations playwright with a body of work of consistent and superior quality. Over the course of 30 years, Daniel wrote more than 12 plays, four books of poetry and co-edited four volumes of ‘An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English.’ His exceptional artistry, demonstrated commitment, and ongoing creative growth served to elevate the art form. Watch Daniel's video here.
Mark Sirett – 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. Mark is a recipient of the President’s Leadership Award from Choirs Ontario for his contribution to the choral art in the province. The 2019-2020 season with the Cantabile Choirs will be Mark’s final year as Artistic Director.
Watch Mark's video here.
Helen Humphreys – Acclaimed novelist, poet, and writer of non-fiction and a long-time resident of Kingston. Having 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, Helen’s reputation goes far beyond Kingston’s borders. Helen’s best-selling books are known for their wit, humanity, and lyrical styling. Helen has also served as the Writer- in-Residence at Queens University and was the Poet Laureate for Kingston from 2015-2018.
Watch Helen's video here.
Don Maynard – Kingston-based painter, sculptor and installation artist whose works runs the gamut of encaustic painting to outdoor multi-media public art events. He has exhibited across the country and in the United States. Don 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 spectacular large-scale public art event in which images, accompanied by live music, are projected on a massive screen that floats mysteriously in the sky. These free events captivate people of all ages, bringing a sense of magic and wonder into our public landscape.
Watch Don's video here.
Jan Allen – Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Agnes) at Queen’s University and is a dedicated advocate for the visual and media arts community at the local, regional and national level. She has organized over 150 exhibitions, earned numerous awards, is published widely, and led the acquisition of numerous works at the Agnes including the 2019 acquisition of Rembrandt’s 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, Jan has played a key role in many of Kingston's arts initiatives that we see implemented today.
Watch Jan's video here.
Joanne Page – A poet, visual artist, and columnist, Joanne Page started her artistic career as a talented painter. She then spent five years as a columnist for the Whig-Standard (Kingston) 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. Joanne’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. The Page Lecture Series, an annual event hosted by the Department of English at Queen’s University, honours Joanne’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. Joanne died in 2015.
Watch Joanne's video here.
Onagottay Blanchard – Artist whose work spans from traditional media, such as birchbark, horn, leather, and beadwork to canvas-based acrylics and large public works. Having studied under the world-renowned Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau and engaged in Midewiwin training as a medicine person, his work is informed by authentic Anishinaabe intellectual tradition and is emblematic of woodlands art, which spans centuries.
Watch Onagottay's video here.
Erin Ball – Kingston-based circus artist whose disciplines include aerial silks and trapeze, wheelchair acrobatics, aerial wheelchair, aerial hoop, partner acrobatics, hand balancing and hooping. In 2014, Erin faced life-changing events that resulted in the loss of her lower legs. Since returning to her passion of performing, training and coaching, Erin uses her perspective and experiences to tell stories, inspire others, and explore the possibilities of movement. Today, Erin is the owner of Kingston Circus Arts where she teaches circus arts to all bodies, shapes, sizes, ages and situations.
Watch Erin's video here.
Clarke Mackey – Kingston-based director, cinematographer, editor, producer, and writer whose work spans feature films, experimental video works, and documentaries. Clarke shared his talents with innumerable students during his 30 year career at Queen's University and has been engaged more recently in community activism in Eastern Ontario, producing micro-budget documentaries on subjects such as the closing of the prison farm in Kingston. Clarke is an active member of the local community and sits on numerous arts boards.
Watch Clarke's video here.
Karen Peperkorn – Described as an artist whose medium is teaching and whose students are her art work. She is a high school teacher who has shaped the lives of students through arts education in Kingston. In 1990, Karen founded the Creative Arts Focus program at QECVI, which provides students interested in Fine Art and Design with training in media, techniques, community participation and a uniquely collaborative education experience. Karen has devoted her life to sharing the power and potential of the arts and finding innovative ways to support the artistic pursuits of young people.
Watch Karen's video here.
Kim Renders – One of Canada's most daring theatrical practitioners, highly respected as an actor, director, writer, and professor. Kim co-founded the Nightwood Theatre Company in Toronto in 1978, was the Artistic Director of Theatre Kingston from 2007 – 2011 and co-founded the Kingston-based Chipped Off Performance Collective in 2013 that created and produced community artistic presentations from a queer and feminist perspective. A theatre pioneer, Kim used art for activism and gave a voice to the marginalized.
Watch Kim's video here.
Armand Garnet Ruffo is an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) scholar, filmmaker, writer and poet. A Queen's University National Scholar in Indigenous Literature, Ruffo's award-winning works include plays, film and books of prose and poetry. His work is inventive and multidisciplinary, and his approach is a subtle, personal and deeply informed expression of Indigenous culture. His collection, The Thunderbird Poems (2015), was inspired by the art of Norval Morisseau.
Watch Armand's video here.
Su Sheedy – Known for her use of colour and texture in her paintings, Sheedy's work has been exhibited in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Prince Edward County as well as Kingston. The artistic merit of her work is matched by her generous leadership in inspiring visual, media and audio artists to mobilize for the conservation of, and public access to, Kingston’s waterfront in the high-impact Shoreline Shuffle (2013) public art and action event, and through subsequent exhibitions and actions at the Pump House Steam Museum (2014) and the Tett Centre (2017). With projects like the Shoreline Shuffle, Sheedy has used art to help highlight the need to conserve and improve access to waterways.
Watch Su's video here.
Matt Rogalsky is an accomplished and widely recognized artist specializing as a media artist in electronic and electroacoustic music who continually extends the boundaries of his art form. A founding member of The Gertrudes, composer and multi-media artist Rogalsky, is also the force behind The Tone Deaf Festival of Experimental Sound and sits on the board of the Skeleton Park Arts Festival. Talented and widely respected, Matt provides his technical and artistic expertise and encouragement to an enormous range of art activities in Kingston, spanning visual and performance art, storytelling, classical to experimental music, film and theatre.
Watch Matt's video here.
Yessica Rivera Belsham – Drawing on her passion for her Mexican heritage, Yessica facilitates performance workshops, cultural and wellness events that feature painting, drawing, sculpture, jewellery design, sewing, drumming and singing. Yessica Rivera Belsham is a visionary holistic community leader and multidisciplinary
artist, founder and artistic director of Circle of Wellness, which provides inclusive intergenerational learning and collective performance opportunities through programs
such as Kingston Drum Circle, Rhythm Momentum, Dia de los Muertos Festival and Quetzalcoatl, which focuses on Indigenous and folkloric Mexican arts, crafts, music and
Watch Yessica's video here.
David Kemp was an accomplished playwright, theatre artist and educator who advocated for theatre education for all ages. David was the artistic director of the Frontenac Children’s Teacher’s Theatre Company, which performed children’s theatre at local schools. In co-founding the Artists in Community Education program (ACE), which provides practising artists with the teaching tools they needed to pursue classroom, community outreach and arts leadership careers, he has inspired successive generations of youth while integrating artistic practices in all disciplines with community life, making Kingston a leading centre for arts education. David was a passionate advocate for theatre education for all ages and was a beloved member of the Kingston arts community.
Watch David's video here.
Thank you to Make Hay Media (2017-2020) and Josh Lyon (2021) for the videos.