The Saskatchewan Arts Awards celebrates the achievements of individuals, groups and organizations in all arts disciplines. On October 18, recipients were given awards in six categories at a gala event held at Casino Regina Show Lounge. Presented by the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the awards (formerly called the Lieutenant Governor's Arts Awards) represent one of the highest recognitions in Saskatchewan’s artistic landscape.
The evening brought hundreds of artists, arts organizations, patrons of the arts and members of the business community together to champion the enormous contributions the arts community makes to our province's quality of life and economy.
Audiences were treated to a host of performances and artistic displays. Work from the Saskatchewan Arts Board Permanent Collection was showcased in the reception area. During the ceremony, rock band Rah Rah and hip hop artist InfoRed took the stage, and Prairie Puppet Underground along with Deaf Crows also provided insightful entertainment. There was even a screening of a short film by Heather Benning called The Dollhouse.
The show, hosted by musician and Artistic Excellence Award nominee Jeffery Straker, honored Saskatchewan’s creative community.
Robin Poitras, co-founder of New Dance Horizons and recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, said her nomination from Jeannie Mah came as a great surprise. Throughout the process of gathering materials for the nomination process, Poitras reflected on 30 years of dance.
“The whole dialogue throughout the nomination made me realize I’ve been doing something for a lifetime. Time has a different dimension in dance. I had this sense of time being crunched into a moment—wow 30 years!”
When the award announcement came, Poitras said she was touched by the outpouring of support from the local arts community and the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Along with cash prizes for each award, winners were also given a one-of-a-kind sculpture by ceramicist Jody-Greenman Barber. Each of these awards were custom-made to capture the vibrancy of each winner.
Performance and visual artist Lori Blondeau said the awards are “so important to our province.” The recipient of the Artistic Excellence Award said she has attended past award ceremonies, but “it’s very different when you go as a nominee.”
Randy Goulden, executive director with the Yorkton Film Festival, said when her organization was thrilled to be nominated by Valerie Creighton for the Leadership—Organization award. The festival was the recipient in their category.
“The film festival is so appreciative of the support from the Arts Board. To be then nominated and recognized was a real joy after 70 years of working in Saskatchewan.”
Goulden said receiving the award, with a festival board member and co-chair accepting it on the night of the gala surrounded by community leaders, was a historical moment for the organization. Thinking of the festival’s past, Goulden said some never imagined it would last as long as it has and grow into a national organization based in a small, rural community.
She credited the Arts Board for helping foster that creative environment. The leadership award comes with a $6,000 cheque, money she said is helping support programing and services for high school students.
(Top): Saskatchewan Arts Award sculpture by Jody Greenman-Barber.
(Middle Right): Saskatchewan Arts Board Permanent Collection display
(Middle Left): Robin Poitras, Lieutenant Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
(Bottom Right) Prairie Puppet Underground and Deaf Crows peformance
(Bottom Left) Dr. Jacqui Shumiatcher receives an honorary award.
Photos by Michael Bell Photography