Since 2009, the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards has applauded the accomplishments local artists and organizations have made to St. Albert. More than 50 awards have been given to artists, arts champions, and teachers who have demonstrated excellence in artistic creation or contribution.
While some view artistic endeavours as a hobby, artists create beauty, stimulate awareness and instill pride in a community. They bring people together, showcase different cultures and strengthen connections between us.
The Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards, currently celebrated as a biannual event, returns Feb. 29, 2024. Nominations are open to promote deserving artists, teachers and arts champions who have enriched both our lives and the city we thrive in.
“I’m nervous and hopeful, but I’m excited to see it coming back. It’s been out of the public eye for a while, and I hope people haven’t forgotten about it. We’ve been trying to get the word out on social media,” said Tamsin Brooks, City of St. Albert community cultural coordinator.
The six nomination categories are: Lifetime Achievement Award; Arts Champion; Mid-Career Artist; Emerging Artist; Youth Artist, and Excellence in Arts Teaching.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is designed for an artist who has amassed a large body of work. Past recipients included jewelry designer/arts advocate Carol Watamaniuk, composer-conductor Michael Massey, mosaic painter Lewis Lavoie, and actors Maureen Rooney and Paul Punyi.
"This is to award artists who have made long-standing achievements. These people are instantly recognizable by what they've done."
Instead the Arts Champion Award is geared to the seemingly invisible unsung heroes, volunteers and arts supporters who make significant contributions.
“This award is for people in the background who do an immense amount of work and it’s often unpaid,” Brooks said.
The Mid-Career Artist, formerly titled Established Artist category, focuses on individuals holding down a stable professional career and who excel at their discipline.
“They must have produced a substantial body of work and practised their art for at least eight years.”
Brooks said the Arts Development Advisory Committee rebranded the category for clarity.
“We never received a lot of nominations in this category, and we hope by changing the name, we can boost the numbers.”
The Youth Artist category recognizes talent, potential and community service.
“This category is for young artists up to 21 years – those at the start of their artistic careers. In the past, the jury decided the recipient based on talent, but we’re also adding community service. It’s for youth who get out there, youth who have increased their performances. You see them everywhere and they are promoting their art.”
The Emerging Artist category is targeted to adults such as post-secondary students pursuing a career who have not yet reached a professional pinnacle.
An equally important category is Excellence in Arts Teaching.
“We really must acknowledge the importance of arts educators and give them a shout-out. Teachers are the ones who influence future generations of young artists.”
Friends, family and colleagues are urged to nominate an artist. Artists are even encouraged to nominate themselves.
"If you applied one year and didn't get selected, don't worry. It's not that you're not worthy. If you are not picked one year, it doesn't mean you won't be picked a second year with a different jury. It's part of the game. Just put your best foot forward and re-apply."
Nomination deadline is Thursday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. User-friendly nomination forms can only be filed online at https://stalbert.ca/exp/arts-culture/mayors-celebration/nominations/
Recipients in each category will receive a $1,000 cheque and a gift of local art.
Winners will be announced in February. Unlike previous years where a public presentation celebrated the recipients, the upcoming award ceremony is double edged. Recipients will be notified in advance and invited to a private reception. The same day, videos of the recipients will appear on the city’s social media and YouTube channels.
“We received a lot of feedback from past events of people who wanted to know more about nominees. We took it to heart. Instead of a public event, we moved to an online hybrid event. We are making a one- to two-minute video of the recipients they can use to promote themselves on social media, and the public will see the video online.”