Photo By: City of St. Catharines

The City of St. Catharines celebrated local individuals who share their artistic skills and contribute to the community’s rich cultural scene at the annual St. Catharines Art Awards, which were held this week.

The awards, which were broadcasted live on Facebook and YouTube on Sunday, Nov. 21, were meant to honour and celebrate excellence in all forms of artistic expression. 

Beyond honouring cultural leaders and their accomplishments, the presentation is also designed to raise awareness of the arts and cultural sectors in St. Catharines, and promote financial and volunteer support for the arts.

2020 award winners Danny Custodio, Juliet Dunn, Erica Sherwood, and Candice Turner-Smith hosted this year’s awards. 

Aside from the award announcements, the event included musical performances on the Partridge Hall stage by Peter Shea, Sarah Jerrom, Kathryn Sinopoli, Chorus Niagara, and Diana McAdorey. 

Arts in Education, Emerging Artist, Established Artist, Making a Difference, Jury’s Pick, and Patron of the Arts are among the awards that were presented. This year’s winners include:

Arts in Education 

The Arts in Education award recognizes a person, group, or institution that has made a significant contribution to engagement with the arts in St. Catharines through arts education programs. Curtis Tye is the recipient of this year’s Arts in Education Award. Tye, who is currently a professor at Brock, has a diverse performing arts career spanning more than 35 years as a performance artist, arts facilitator, and arts educator.

Emerging Artist

The Emerging Artist award is given to an up-and-coming St. Catharines artist working in any field. These “emerging artists” are forging careers in their respective fields and are striving to become acknowledged professional artists. Elise Naccarato, an aspiring conductor and performer who is passionate about displaying the talents of female composers and contemporary pieces in St. Catharines, was this year’s recipient. Naccarato is active in the local choral music scene as an apprentice conductor and performer with Chorus Niagara, as well as the administrative director for the Chorus Niagara Children’s Choir.

Established Artist

The Established Artist award is presented to a professional local artist of any field who has received critical recognition for their work in St. Catharines and beyond. This year’s honour goes to Peter Shea, a well-known local musician. Shea is widely recognized as one of Niagara’s greatest jazz pianists, percussionists, vocalists, composers, and arrangers. He often plays both locally and internationally. 

Making a Difference 

The Making a Difference award recognizes an arts entrepreneur, administrator, organization, or volunteer in St. Catharines whose leadership and inventiveness have greatly contributed to the city’s cultural growth and development. This year’s recipient is Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) Brock. OPIRG Brock, which was launched in 2017, recently expanded its social justice mandate to include a focus on the arts, and has established various programs throughout the city that bridge other arts and social justice groups together.

Jury’s Pick

The Jury’s Pick award is granted to any nominee who the awards jury believes has made substantial contributions to the arts community in St. Catharines and has left a legacy that should be honoured. Jean Bridge, a visual artist and Making a Difference award contender, was this year’s Jury’s Pick award recipient. Bridge is the founder of Generator at One, an interactive media incubator in downtown St. Catharines. Bridge was also a founding faculty member of Brock’s Department of Digital Humanities.

Patron of the Arts 

The Patron of the Arts award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the arts via creative, transformational, and entrepreneurial collaborations or generous donations. Janet Partridge, a local philanthropist, is this year’s recipient. Partridge was born and raised in St. Catharines and has been a long-time supporter of the arts in the city, with over 50 years of contributions to developing the cultural scene. 

As the entire event was live-streamed, individuals who missed the show are still able to watch the presentation online on the FirstOntario PAC’s YouTube and Facebook pages. A full list of award recipients and nominees, including details of their history in St. Catharines’ cultural scene, can be found on the city’s website.