Michael J. Fox, Martin Short among Governor General’s Performing Arts Award recipients

OTTAWA — Michael J. Fox and Martin Short are among the newly announced recipients of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.

Created in 1992, the annual honour is presented to Canadians whose accomplishments “have inspired and enriched the cultural life of our country.”

The Edmonton-born, Burnaby, B.C.-raised Fox catapulted to worldwide fame with roles including Alex P. Keaton in the classic ’80s sitcom Family Ties, the time-travelling Marty McFly in the popular Back to the Future film trilogy, and his Emmy-winning turn as Mike Flaherty on Spin City.

Fox has also received numerous humanitarian awards and became an outspoken advocate for people living with Parkinson’s disease. The actor was diagnosed with the degenerative disorder in 1991.

The Hamilton-born Short has cultivated a career spanning more than four decades, from his early years as a member of Toronto’s Second City improv troupe, to the sets of SCTV and Saturday Night Live, and film credits including Father of the Bride and Mars Attacks!

Short has also been called upon frequently as an emcee, serving as the host of the Canadian Screen Awards in 2013 and 2014. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television last year.

Montreal-born filmmaker Jean Beaudin was also named among the 2017 laureates. The screenwriter and director’s career spans from his early days at the National Film Board to a host of successful film dramas and TV series.

“His work stands out for its authenticity, simplicity and visual beauty, and has been instrumental in transmitting our cultural heritage and shaping a distinctive voice in Quebec and Canadian cinema,” the Governor General’s Performing Arts Foundation said in a statement on Thursday.

Also honoured was theatre and artistic director Brigitte Haentjens, who has helmed some 60 productions over the course of her lengthy career, and has previously been honoured with the prestigious Siminovitch Prize for theatre. The French-born Haentjens founded her own theatre company, Sibyllines, and holds the distinction of being the first woman named as artistic director of the Ottawa-based National Arts Centre’s French theatre.

Rounding out the list of new laureates is writer, director, filmmaker, actor and producer Yves Sioui Durand who is heralded as a “pioneering figure” in contemporary indigenous theatre.

Along with the 2017 laureates, National Ballet of Canada artistic director Karen Kain is the recipient of the mentorship program honour, while choreographer and dancer Robert Binet serves as her protege. The distinction is designed to unite past laureates with mid-career artists. Kain will mentor Binet as he further develops his 2015 ballet “Orpheus,” slated to be performed by the National Ballet in a future season.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist William H. (Bill) Loewen was also recognized with the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts.

The 2017 laureates will be feted at two events in Ottawa, culminating with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards gala on June 29.

A one-hour presentation of the gala will air on the CBC and Radio-Canada on June 30.

The Canadian Press

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