Virtual Celebration Marks 2020 Mayor’s Arts Awards


Virtual Celebration Marks 2020 Mayor’s Arts Awards and Windsor Endowment for the Arts Awards

The City of Windsor and the Windsor Endowment for the Arts (WEA) celebrated thirteen local artists, arts organizations, or arts supporters in a virtual ceremony honouring the 2020 recipients of the Windsor Mayor’s Arts Awards and the WEAs awards and grants on May 22, 2020.

Mayor Drew Dilkens and WEA President Stephanie Barnhard co-hosted the ceremony using the Zoom platform and broadcasting live to the City’s Facebook page. All award recipients joined them, each taking the opportunity to discuss their careers, successes, and the projects that brought them this recognition.

The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at The Capitol Theatre. Mayor Dilkens used the broadcast as an opportunity to also celebrate the Capitol’s centennial anniversary, encouraging residents to visit to share photos, stories and memories of the Capitol Theatre over the last 100 years.

“Art changes lives, and it does not exist without the artists, arts organizations, volunteers and teams of people working every day,” states Drew Dilkens, Mayor, City of Windsor. “The awards and grants presented today all provide an opportunity to recognize our local artists and arts supporters by showing how much we appreciate, value and respect them. Windsor has a proud history of investment in our arts, culture and heritage. I’m grateful to the teams at both WEA and the Capitol Theatre for their partnership. The arts are vital to our quality of life, our sense of identity, and our understanding of our stories and of the people and places that make our community come alive.”

Stephanie Barnhard, President, Windsor Endowment for the Arts adds: “We at WEA are honoured and grateful that the 2020 WEAs and Windsor Mayor’s Arts Awards were able to be presented – ‘with adjustments’. The Windsor Endowment for the Arts was created for the sole purpose of safeguarding arts and culture in Windsor-Essex. In our 20-year history, financial support for our fellow artists and arts organizations has never been as crucial as it is right now. We hope all members of our community were inspired by what they heard from these talented creatives to support local artists and businesses when shops, galleries and theatres are able to re-open.”


Individual Artist ($1,000) – Christy Litster

The award for INDIVIDUAL ARTIST is presented to an artist engaged in a broad spectrum of activities having to do with creating, practicing or demonstrating art in the City of Windsor.

Christy Litster is no stranger to the local creative community. In 2008, she committed to building opportunities for emerging artists. She helped found the organization that became the Walkerville Artists’ Co-op; assisted in curating and promoting many shows at Sho Art, Spirit and Performance from 2013-15; and produced over 20 art shows, with 100% of the sales going to local artists. She has hosted sketch nights at the Arts Council Windsor & Region, and created a mentorship series at the Windsor Youth Centre. After a 2016 diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she spent her treatment days working behind the scenes supporting the work of other artists. She went on to create the ‘Windsor Snapshots’ mural for our City’s 125th Birthday, and has received multiple ACHF grants. Today, healthy and busy as ever, Christy has created a series of free colouring book downloads as part of the ACHF COVID-19 presentations.

Arts Organization ($1,000) – ACT – Arts Collective Theatre 

The award for ARTS ORGANIZATION is presented to a group that demonstrates a clear commitment to creating, practicing and demonstrating art within the community.

ACT – Arts Collective Theatre is a well-respected local performing arts organization. The group is dedicated and committed to enhancing the well-being of Windsor-Essex artists through theatre education and mentorship, and by bringing awareness to social justice issues in Windsor and beyond. This group offers programs for local artists at all levels of their theatrical development. They provide training and performance opportunities for multi-ethnic artists of all ages, offering productions that highlight diversity. Their work has been supported by the City’s ACHF program many times over the years. They recently celebrated their 5th anniversary as an group that gives a voice and a platform to artists from all backgrounds, helping to bring us together by sharing stories and themes that unite us all.

Arts Volunteer ($500) – Rod Turton

The award for ARTS VOLUNTEER is presented to an individual that supports the arts by providing their own time and services without receiving payment for their work or asking anything in return.

Rod Turton is a key member of the performing arts community. Since 2015, he has volunteered as the Director of Youth Theatre at Windsor Light Music Theatre – one of Windsor’s most highly-respected performing arts organizations. There, he has used his theatrical training and educational talents to build a series of youth theatre programs for local children – a first for this organization that is over 70 years old. Also an elementary teacher, he ensures that every child at Windsor Light feels valued, and leaves feeling more confident in their abilities in acting, dance and voice. He tells the kids in his program that they are “family”, fostering individual relationships with each child, while mounting a high-quality rendition of a Broadway show. Between planning and running these programs, performing in musicals, and serving on the Board of Directors, he has accumulated thousands of volunteer hours.


Emerging Artist in Community Arts Grant ($3,000) – David Bergeron

David will use the grant funds, in collaboration with medical professional Mialynn Lee-Daigle, to create a book documenting the autobiographical memories – stimulated by music – of the elderly members in our community.

Emerging Artist in Literary Arts Grant ($3,000) – Samantha Badaoa

Samantha will use the grant funds to create a poetry manuscript that focuses on the financial, personal and economical issues of Arabic immigrants in Windsor and Mexican migrant workers in Leamington who are employed in the agricultural industry.

Emerging Artist in Performing Arts Grant ($3,000) – Alexander Steele Zonjic

Alexander will use the grant funds to produce and direct a new contemporary adaptation of Hedda Gabler at SHO Studios.

Lois Smedick Emerging Artist in Visual Arts Grant ($3,000) – Kristina Bradt

This grant is named in honour of beloved WEA board director – the renowned and respected Windsor scholar and arts patron Lois Smedick who passed away in 2017. Kristina will use the Lois Smedick grant to collaborate with a sound designer to create an interactive art installation that explores the idea of allowing ambient sounds of a space to affect the video projection of 3D rendered images.

Community Arts Infrastructure Grant ($3,000) – Arts Can Teach

Arts Can Teach will use the grant funds to launch their new pilot program “Arts After School” at Dougall Avenue Public School in Windsor’s downtown core. The program will be led by local visual artist April Morris.

Literary Arts Infrastructure Grant ($3,000) – Iovan Stefanov & Nick Hildenbrand

The poets Hildenbrand and Stefanov will use the grant funds towards their collaborative work of poetry, Marshwood Songs. It will include 26 poems and feature illustrations from local visual artists that celebrate the culture and natural environment of Southwestern Ontario.

Performing Arts Infrastructure Grant ($3,000) – Windsor Feminist Theatre

The Windsor Feminist Theatre will use the grant funds to produce “Letters to Grace” a performance featuring five actors reading excerpts from historical letters written by Grace Hospital alumni nurses. These letters were accessed through Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare by local historian and writer Marty Gervais (Windsor’s Poet Laureate Emeritus). To accompany each letter will be music composed by Jeff Smallman and played by an ensemble led by Nadine Deleury.

Carolyne Rourke Visual Arts Infrastructure Grant ($3,000) – Windsor Jewish Federation and Community Centre

This grant was renamed in 2019 in Carolyne’s honour when she retired after 20 years of volunteer service as WEA’s president. The JCC will use the grant funds towards the presentation of the 18th Windsor Jewish Film Festival that will showcase 10 outstanding Jewish films from around the world.

Elizabeth Havelock Grant in the Arts ($2,000) – Dr. Nicholas Papador

This grant was created in 2012, by the Havelock family to celebrate the life and work of deceased Windsor arts advocate and WEA supporter Elizabeth Havelock. The purpose of this grant is to foster and support the artistic excellence of the mid-career artist in any artistic discipline. Dr. Papador will use the Havelock grant towards a CD recording project featuring music by Canadian classical composer Jordan Nobles. The recording will feature current students and alumni from the University of Windsor’s School of Creative Arts (SoCA). The engineering/production will also be done by SoCA alumni.

Morris and Beverly Baker Foundation Youth Grant in the Arts ($2,000) – Miriam Elsawi

This grant was created to assist a graduating high school student pursue a post-secondary education in the arts. Violist Miriam Elsawi will use the Baker Foundation grant towards music studies at the University of Western Ontario.

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