Mayor’s Lunch 2019 | Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards

Mayor’s Lunch 2019 | Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards


We’re really proud to sponsor the
RBC Emerging Artist Award. It’s for artists who are in the early stage
of their career and are building out that recognition that they need. And this year, for the first time, it’s acknowledging
and recognizing a contemporary dance performer and artist. We’re really excited to have Meghann as the
recipient of this year’s award. She’s a graduate from the University of Calgary
in 2014. She’s produced and performed pieces in Alberta
and in Finland. And, maybe what’s most impressive about Meghann
is her commitment and hard work—not only around her own dancing but supporting peers
and other dancers and the community overall. My name is Meghann Michalsky. I am a dance artist here in Calgary. My practice includes performing, choreographing,
and producing dance work. I’m also the co-creator of Project InTandem
and YYC Contemporary Dance Training. I would say what inspires me the most about
dance is the non-verbal communication. I would like to thank my mentors for their
encouragement, Davida Monk, Mike Czuba, Jason Galeos, and Oliver Reyes. I would like to thank RBC for sponsoring the
Emerging Artist Award and giving this platform of recognition. The Rozsa Foundation is a philanthropic foundation
that supports transformational leadership in the arts and we do that in a number of
ways. We have a granting program. We have a trio of arts leadership programs,
and we also have the annual Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management and we do a
lot of advocacy and research work. We introduced the Rozsa Foundation Emerging
Arts Administrator Award to recognize the incredible work of arts administrators who
are still learning and growing in their roles but are already doing work that has tremendous
impact for their organizations and on the sector as a whole. The work that Beth has done in a really short
period of time has really been phenomenal. She has come into this organization that already
had a track record of artistic excellence and has provided it with an administrative
foundation on which to build. My name is Bethany Yon and I am the Executive
Director of Cowtown Opera Company. Cowtown Opera Company is an opera company
whose focus is on engaging Calgarians with opportunities to interact with opera in a
fun, relatable, and easy way. My focus over the past two years in this position
has really been navigating a season of change, creating some stability, and formulating processes
and policies that help us really navigate the nuts and bolts of how we operate as an
organization. How we communicate in our teams. How we reach out to the community and create
relationships and deepen our roots and further our reach within the cultural fabric of Calgary. I would really like to thank the Rozsa Foundation,
Calgary Arts Development, my board of directors, and nominators as well as the Cowtown leadership
team, my husband and family, and just the greater Calgary artistic community who has
really welcomed me with open arms these past two years. The award is the SANDSTONE City Builder Award
and it was established to recognize and artist or an arts organization that through their
art has made Calgary a better place to live. The recipient of the award is JP Thibodeau
of StoryBook Theatre. We are presenting the award to him because
he has created a community of professional and emerging artist and volunteers, families,
children, youth, and teen audiences, and created this community where they can join together
and partake in the shared experience of the theatre. JP’s experience, connections, dedication,
and creativity have really brought this small community theatre into a flourishing, semi-professional
theatre company and is Canada’s largest volunteer driven theatre for young audiences. My name is JP Thibodeau and I am the Artistic
Producer for StoryBook Theatre. StoryBook offers accessible theatre programming
for families here in Calgary. Over the past 43 years, StoryBook has been
offering theatre programming to Calgary and area, and in the last five years we have really
focused our mandate on accessibility. Through our theatre school programming, one
of the big things we have done is offer free programming to families who otherwise
couldn’t afford it. We also do that through the theatre shows
we present and, more importantly, we really focus on emerging artists and offer them an
opportunity to grow and learn here in Calgary. It has been a lot of hard work to create the
programming we have been doing and to be offering free programming here in Calgary, on any level,
is difficult in and of itself but to have it be offered, to have it be successful, and, more importantly,
to have it be acknowledged by the community is huge. Doing this work requires a whole team of people
and I couldn’t do it alone. I need to thank Eva Stieber who works in our
office and Jolene Anderson our Board President, and of course my family—Tara, Issac, and
Evan who are always there whether its a FaceTime call at night or tucking them in at bedtime,
it’s important that they know that this kind of work needs to happen and they’re part of
that in someway, shape or form. And absolutely thanks to our sponsor SANDSTONE
for making this acknowledgement possible. The ATB Financial Healing Through the Arts
Award was created for artists whose work specifically address health and wellness issues and improve
the wellness of others. We understand the healing powers of art and
how art expression can give hope and comfort and joy to others. So it was important for us to be part of an
award that honours artists in the community that are improving the lives of others. Vivek is an accomplished artist whose multidisciplinary
approach touches the lives of many people. A mentor, a community advocate, a teacher. Using her skills and tools to really make
a difference in the community. We at ATB really applaud the efforts and the
ability that Vivek has to make a true difference in the lives of Calgarians. My name is Vivek Shraya and I am an artist,
a writer, musician, a visual artist, and filmmaker. A lot of my art tackles themes like gender,
sexuality, race and religion, and the intersection those experiences. I would say that throughout my artistic practice,
I have turned to art as a way to heal my own trauma and to also try to make art to bring
comfort to people who have had similar experiences, so to kind of build a sense of community through
art. This award feels particularly significant
for me because it acknowledges that connection between art and healing. I would like to thank ATB for just having
an award like this, again, that recognizes the power of art to heal, and for honouring
me with this award. And I would like to thank my dear friend Tricia
Yeoh who nominated me for this award. The agency actually for the past 38 years
have been helping immigrant and refugees settling in Calgary and area. We have six offices in Calgary and 10 satellite
offices in Southern Alberta. Basically, we want to make immigration a positive
experience for the community and the people that come here. Calgary gets about 20,000 newcomers from 120
countries. People come here with a lot of hopes. Obviously, they have some fears but we have
to build on their hopes mainly. We know a lot of these people are talented,
they’re artists, they’re musicians, they’re photographers, they are painters. And this year Samuel from Nigeria, he has
only been in Canada for less than a year and he and his wife came to Canada and they fell
in love with Canada. And then he was one of the people that were nominated, among many people that we received applications. Samuel was the one that actually picked by
the selection committee and we’re very glad and he deserves it and he is going to do amazing
work for everybody. And he is going to introduce his art in very
different ways of bringing people together into the culture of Nigeria but also try to
understand how these cultures impact in Calgary. How is it impacting us? That is his mission for the future. My name is Obadero Samuel. I am from Nigeria. I am a storyteller. I use photography to tell my stories and a
venue for me to express whatever thought, whatever issues or stories that are around
me. I take pleasure in telling stories. I remember my mom told me that when she gave
birth to me that I had my entire left fist in my mouth. I had a speech deficiency so I stuttered a
lot, so I couldn’t express myself. So, for me, the way out of that was drawing, writing,
whatever it is, and eventually I found photography and it was the perfect match for me. I found photography when there was still analog
and I started taking pictures with film, but I never had the finance to develop this film,
so I just took them anyways until some years later I was able to do it. It opened up something in me and I never stopped. I never looked back. I’d like to say a big thank you to CCIS, they
have been instrumental, tremendously instrumental to my settlement, my settling down in Calgary. Without them I would be unsettled right now. I also want to say a big thank you to Calgary
Arts Development for the voice it gives to artists in this city. A huge thank you to them also. God bless them. As a proud Calgarian who could be described
as the furthest thing from an artist, I have an appreciation for the value of art, the
artists, and how it is that the work that the artists can be so passionate about, can
be shared with an entire population of a city. I think recognizing the component of the leadership
in that process is absolutely critical in ensuring that artists are able to do what
it is they do best. Peter had an idea. He put together the pieces and then implemented
the vision. The tireless work in really allowing the artists
to do what it is they do and bring the benefit to the entire city, that’s the reason he’s
deserving of the award. The concept of supporting artists, beautifying
a neighbourhood, and sharing the art with an entire population is one that resonates
with an individual like myself who believes that art is for the sharing. My name is Peter Schryvers. I’m the Director of Public Art for the Beltline
Neighbourhoods Association and the Beltline Urban Murals Project. And what we do is we match up artists and
building owners in our community to kind of inspire creativity through art and through
murals and make our community a better place. There’s a lot of blank canvases in our community
and there’s a lot of talented artists and so we really want to showcase that and make
art public and free for everybody. What does it mean to us to be nominated? A lot. It means a lot. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of volunteer
hours and a lot of problems we have to solve and just being recognized I think is really
important to us and means a lot. I would really like to thank Strategic for
this. They’re a great community partner and their
support really helps make our community a better place. I would also like to thank my partner in crime,
Peter Oliver. He’s been an amazing support and couldn’t
do this without him. And to all the other volunteers that have
worked on this project and all the artists, not only the ones who have painted but all
the ones who submitted. We have been privileged to be able to be associated
with this award. It is given to an artist who could actually
live anywhere in the world but they choose to make Calgary home. I have known George’s work for years actually. He was an institution at SAIT. He’s done phenomenal work in our province
and around the world but George is somebody who stayed in Canada, lived in Alberta, raised
in Drumheller. But that’s what makes Calgary what it is and
these awards are all part of that what makes us so, I think you could say, interesting
to other cities and other people that they say, “Wow, you know what? Calgary’s got
an awful lot of things going for it.” And it’s especially important right now that
we shout to the world what Calgary does have. I think we’re starting to do a good job. Yeah, we were picked 20th city in the world
that people want to come and visit. But it’s people like George that make it so. My name is George Webber. I have been photographing the spirit, the
energy, the stories of Calgary for over 40 years. When I am out with my camera, I really strive to be one of those people where nothing is wasted. That aspiration has led me to a great connection
and affection for the city. Of the eight books I have done in my career,
two of them specifically focus on Calgary and elements of the cultural and social history. I am especially pleased and honoured to be
receiving this award from Doug and Lois Mitchell. I feel inspired and energized by that. I’ve also been inspired over the years by
my siblings, I’m the eldest of seven, I have four awesome sisters and two pretty good brothers
as well and we’ve all called Calgary home for many years and the city has been great
to all of us.

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