City drums up excitement for arts awards gala
Red Deer — a city with Ghosts statues, public murals and a symphony orchestra — was chosen to host Alberta’s most prestigious arts awards because its creativity is evident, says the foundation chair.
“When you look at Red Deer, you can see that art matters here . . . You can see and feel that art is alive and important,” said Phil Ponting, the Calgary-based board chair of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation.
Ponting praised this city for its dynamic volunteer spirit and organizational strength. But he also mentioned the City of Red Deer’s policy of earmarking a small portion of the budget for each municipal development project for public art, saying “the discipline to do that is particularly unique in Canada.”
Ponting joined Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Red Deer College president Joel Ward on Wednesday to launch ticket sales for the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Arts Awards Gala, to be held at RDC on June 15.
Considered one of Canada’s most prestigious independent arts awards, medals and $30,000 prizes designed to nurture talent and support excellence will be presented to up to three professional Alberta-based artists.
Past recipients have included architect Douglas Cardinal (designer of Red Deer’s St. Mary’s Church, Ottawa’s Museum of Civilization), author Rudy Wiebe, Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit theatre ensemble, and visual artist Jane Ash Poitras.
The awards dinner — which will also honour an arts-friendly Alberta community with a plaque — will be followed by live performances, including from Red Deer Symphony Orchestra musicians. Events will be held at the Cenovus and Arts Centres on the Red Deer College campus.
Tickets are available for $125 or $50 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre. Higher priced tickets will include hors d’oeuvres, dinner, the awards presentation, a post-ceremony gala with entertainment, and a dessert reception. The $50 tickets include only the awards gala and dessert reception.
While Wednesday’s ticket launch at the RDC Arts Centre featured performances by local poet Kimmy Beach, singer Randi Boulton and actor and M.C. Blaine Newton, more Red Deer artists will help celebrate the arts in the week leading up to the awards gala.
The Red Deer Arts Council is co-ordinating a full slate of public events June 10 to 16, including author readings, music and dance performances, comedy sketch and theatre presentations, the Artwalk festival and other art exhibits. Most of these will be free.
Flewwelling said he’s “hugely delighted” that Red Deer was chosen to co-host an awards celebration that helps raise the profile of Alberta artists. “We’re surrounded by the arts,” he added. “We are an ideal community to host this significant biennial event.”
City Councillor Cindy Jefferies agreed, saying, “I think it’s a fabulous way to celebrate the arts in Alberta ... and recognize the contribution of the arts in our daily lives.”
Red Deer College is also happy to be co-hosting, said RDC president Joel Ward. Besides having a $2.8 million art collection, RDC offers visual art, music, theatre and film programs and recently purchased City Centre Stage in downtown Red Deer to be able to showcase more live performances, arts exhibits and films.
Ward added, “Art is the heart and soul of any community.”
Melody McKnight, chair of the organizational committee for the awards gala, who moved to Red Deer from Calgary seven years ago to play with the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra, was thrilled to announce that RBC has stepped up with a $10,000 title sponsorship of the arts awards.
There’s still room for other business sponsors, as well as individual volunteers. Companies can also purchase tables at the gala. Those interested can call 403-896-8522.