The Ontario Contact awards were started as a way to not only recognize the exceptional work of so many of our presenters, artists and agents, but to help us all to better understand and appreciate our colleagues.
The process is a combination of accepting nominations from the field and ones put forward by the Steering Committee. In determining the winners, thought was given to the impact that the individual or organization has had on the Ontario touring sector in particular but also beyond. Although they are recognized within a particular year, often the winners are chosen because of their work over several years. Ontario Contact reserves the right to not present an award in any category. Those being recognized have done extraordinary things, often impacting others and/or influencing the sector in significant ways.
Presenter of the Year – Lesley Grand of the St. Clair College Capitol Theatre
Lesley is a presenter who embodies what we hope to find within all of our presenters – a willingness to take on risky programming while navigating through what the community knows it wants. This is of particular importance in small communities.
Lesley has been presenting in Chatham against great odds and with both personal and professional risk. She has been instrumental in the development of the community, new festivals, a dance audience and now, taking on the management of a large theatre in a small community when most thought the theatre was doomed. She was one of the first to be included in the Ontario Dances program and her commitment to presenting can be measured by the willingness of her rental clients to follow her from the smaller Kiwanis Theatre to the Capitol Theatre.
Agent of the Year – Andrew Kwan of Andrew Kwan Artist Management Inc.
Agents face many challenges as they try to guide artists successfully through their career in a market that seems to be under increased pressure. Andrew is an excellent example of those agents who are passionate, care deeply about the sector as well as their artists and are willing to go above and beyond. Proactive and generous he gives freely of his knowledge and time, not limiting it to artists on his roster but also to those seeking to discover if this career path is for them. In addition, Andrew teaches at the Glenn Gould school. He has helped emerging presenters as they develop their series. He has a very wide breadth of focus and is determined to move presenting and touring forward. Through the Artist Readiness Workshops, he has thoughtfully provided advise to participants and extended the relationship beyond the workshop, answering questions as they arise. He is a ‘go to’ for CAPACOA’s mentoring program TSP and has taken advantage of our own mentoring opportunities through Ontario Contact supporting individuals who are uncertain about our sector and wish to learn more.
Artist of the Year – Trevor Copp of Tottering Biped Theatre
Sometimes it must seem to the artists that the presenting world is completely foreign and impenetrable. The winner of the Artist of the Year award has been determined to break through that mystery. Seeking understanding, presenters have been questioned about what they need, how can they be encouraged to program his work into their seasons. He is concerned with identifying the barriers and discovering how can they be broken. At the same time, his programming is innovative even as it meets the needs of presenters. Trevor’s productions are both risky and accessible to both the presenters and audiences. He will bring you a Santaland to delight your audience, but also a First Dance which may challenge your audience. For his willingness to produce excellent art, while carefully considering his audience and for working with presenters who have face their own challenges, Trevor is being recognized as an exceptional artist.
Award of Excellence – Ken Coulter
Ken has many years in the presenting field as the Manager of the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. Throughout his career, he has worked with new and emerging presenters providing guidance and support. Driven by a passion for the performing arts and the positive impact which arts presentation has on a community and an individual he has made significant strides in the development of audiences and delivered works that have increasingly challenged and grown that community’s understanding and commitment to the arts. Karen Scott-Gagné notes: From his beginnings as a technician through to his recent retirement as a theatre manager, Ken has shared his wisdom – as a manager, mentor, and advisor – with anyone who was willing to learn. Countless presenters, managers, marketers, performers and other professionals within the presenting industry have greatly benefitted from Ken’s intelligent insights and wise consultations.
Photo credit: Ron Hewson