City announces Mayor's Arts Awards, giving nod to everyone from Gordon Smith to Emily Molnar to the Georgia Straight

Winners select another person who shows the most promise

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      The City of Vancouver has announced its annual Mayor’s Arts Awards, a unique program in which the winners also choose an emerging artist in their field to share the honour. In addition, Mayor Gregor Robertson named the Georgia Straight as winner for business support for the arts.

      The Straight’s director of arts, advertising, and marketing, Laura Moore, said she’s thrilled that the company has received this honour from the mayor’s office. It came in recognition of the Straight’s 50th anniversary next year.

      “The relationship with the arts community is embedded in our roots,” Moore said. “We feel strongly that supporting arts and culture not only provides economic benefits but helps to create a vibrant and interesting city to live in for everyone. We pride ourselves on nurturing and providing exposure for artists and arts groups starting their career while continuing to provide a platform for our most treasured arts groups.”

      Janet Smith has been the Straight’s arts editor for almost two decades and oversees all the coverage in this area, including the annual fall arts preview issues.

      “The editorial team is grateful to the city and the community for recognizing the Straight’s ongoing commitment to quality arts coverage at a time when our cultural scene is more dynamic than at any time in Vancouver’s history,” Smith said.

      The awards will be formally presented at a ceremony next Monday (October 3) at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.

      In performing arts, Ballet BC artistic director Emily Molnar won the prize for dance, choosing contemporary dancer Lexi Vajda as her up-and-comer. Composer Jocelyn Morlock chose cellist Marina Hasselberg in the music category. And stage manager Jan Hodgson chose recent Studio 58 theatre production grad Ruth Bruhn in theatre.

      Ballet BC artistic director Emily Molnar chose dancer Lexi Vajda.

      In the category of studio arts, eco art maverick Sharon Kallis chose similarly eco-engaged Rebecca Graham in craft and design; Vij's Meeru Dhalwala chose Arka Lwin for culinary arts; documentary and media artist Lorna Boschman chose indie filmmaker and editor Sebnem Ozpeta for film and new media; writer and poet Betsy Warland chose Jonina Kirton for literary arts; interdisciplinary artist Dana Claxton chose Mexican expat Carlos Colin for visual arts; art collective Instant Coffee chose Krista Belle Stewart for public art; and Theatre in the Raw's Jay Hamburger chose hip-hop/spoken word artist Jerilynn Webster, aka JB the First Lady, in the realm of community engaged art.

      The Straight was named under the broad area of support for the arts. Others honoured in this area are Hassan and Nezhat Khosrowshahi for philanthropy, Mary Jane Morita for volunteerism, and Amy Nugent as arts board member of the year.

      Artist Gordon Smith will take home the lifetime achievement award.

      Veteran visual artist Gordon Smith will also be receiving a lifetime achievement award, and artist Susan Point will be given a Civic Merit Award for outstanding achievement.

      The City of Vancouver Book Award will be named the same evening.

      All prize winners, including both mentors and mentees, will receive $3,000 as part of the award, which was established by Mayor Gregor Robertson in 2008.