Announcements

  • Brock to partner with Suitcase in Point on youth theatre program

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, located in the heart of downtown St. Catharines, will host an intensive two-week theatre program for youth this summer.


    This summer, Brock University will welcome creative youth for an electrifying experience at its downtown arts school.

    Electric Innovations, a two-week intensive theatre program, will be hosted at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and presented by celebrated local multi-arts company Suitcase in Point in partnership with the National Theatre School of Canada.

    Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) will join the initiative as a community partner, offering studio and performance space in the University’s state-of-the-art facilities.

    Held July 11 to 23, Electric Innovations begins with a week of presentations and workshops led by some of the finest theatre artists in Canada, including Miriam Fernandes, Cole Alvis, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster and Joanna Yu. In week two, participants will devise an original piece of work under the mentorship of the program’s Lead Artists Marcel Stewart and Michelle Mohammed (BA ’18).

    Mohammed, Artistic Associate at Suitcase in Point and a Brock DART graduate, is pleased the groundbreaking program will run in person this year after taking place virtually in 2021.

    “We believe in investing in the training and development of young artists and providing a space for new talent to emerge, create, play and find their artistic voices,” she said.

    Co-ordinating the program alongside Mohammed is fellow DART grad and Suitcase in Point Artistic Associate Kaylyn Valdez-Scott (BA ’18), who acknowledged the challenges that existed in finding motivation in the arts during the pandemic.

    “Electric Innovations will provide a brave space where young artists can breathe and laugh with like-minded souls, while creating meaningful work that expresses our current state of being with each other and ourselves,” Valdez-Scott said.

    DART Chair Jennifer Roberts-Smith said she is thrilled to welcome young artists and their mentors into the MIWSFPA spaces and introduce them to faculty and staff.

    “Dramatic Arts is so pleased to support this new way of mentoring young artists,” she said. “We have a lot to learn from the participant-centred approach, and we are very excited to see what the young artists will bring to the program.”

    Applications are now open to youth 15 to 18 years of age in the Niagara or Greater Toronto-Hamilton regions. Eight participants will be selected for the program.

    The deadline to apply is Monday, June 13. For application details, please visit the Electric Innovations website.

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  • Dramatic Arts criticism course returning to in-person theatre

    Image caption: Students in DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism will be experiencing a variety of live productions this summer after two years of digital offerings.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022 | by 

    After two years of viewing performances online, Brock University students learning the art of theatre criticism will experience indoor, in-person theatre at the celebrated Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre.

    DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism is an online intensive Summer Term course run between July 11 and 22, bolstered by field trips to see live productions at Canada’s leading theatre companies.

    Taught by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for The Toronto Star, the course introduces students to the practical craft of theatre criticism and dives into the theoretical background of the discipline.

    Fricker said that after two years of running the course during the pandemic and having students review digital theatre exclusively, it will be thrilling to view live productions again.

    “Both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals have full indoor seasons this year and I’m looking forward to bringing the course to shows there,” she said. “We’re setting up some post-show talks so that students will be able to ask questions about the productions they’ve seen with the artists who made them.”

    Stratford Festival is welcoming back audiences beginning in May with a season theme of ‘New Beginnings’ and featuring plays such as Hamlet and Little Women and the musical Chicago. The largest classical repertory theatre in North America celebrates a its milestone 70th year in 2022.

    Shaw Festival Theatre, in its 60th season, will feature 13 plays across three stages in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Productions include The Importance of Being EarnestEverybody and The Doctor’s Dilemma.

    After seeing productions, students will write and discuss responses to them and learn about alternative, digital, performative and visual forms of critical response, while engaging with theatre culture.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website. Students interested in learning more about the course are encouraged to contact Fricker at kfricker@brocku.ca

    Learn more about the 2022 seasons at Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre online.

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  • Student-run podcast provides guidance, inspiration for future artists

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines is home to the student-run podcast, Dear Marilyn, named in honour of the late textile artist and philanthropist.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022 | by 

    What started as a passion project for two Brock University students in search of career tips has become a robust podcast series providing invaluable insight to the next generation of creators.

    Produced for students by students, the popular podcast Dear Marilyn is now in its second season of connecting the student community with professional artists, with plans to continue production on an ongoing basis.

    Created in 2021 by Dramatic Arts (DART) students Danielle Letourneau and Luca D’Amico, the podcast name honours celebrated textile artist, philanthropist and arts advocate Marilyn I. Walker. In 2008, Walker made a historic donation to Brock that led to the creation of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Letourneau, the podcast’s producer who is now in her fourth year of study with a concentration in Drama and Education and minor in History, says that she has often felt anxiety about entering theatre as a profession.

    “I started this podcast to give students like myself a resource for practical job advice,” Letourneau said. “The arts industry is not always considered the most conventional career path, but we do it because this is what we love; the arts nurture our souls.”

    Supported by Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund in 2021, the Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts and MIWSFPA department Chairs, the Dear Marilyn team invites local and surrounding artists from a range of artistic disciplines to share their stories.

    Co-hosts Hayley Bando, a second-year Dramatic Arts major with a concentration in Production and Design, and Chloe Racho, a third-year Music major with a minor in French Studies, are thrilled to be part of the project.

    “We are honoured to help bring these diverse perspectives about professional journeys in the arts to the Brock community,” Bando said.

    Recent podcast guests include actor, writer and producer Thet Win, voice actor Keegan Vaillancourt and singer-songwriter Glenn Marais.

    MIWSFPA faculty have been supportive since day one, with Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, championing the podcast idea in its early stages.

    “I was happy to support Dear Marilyn initially because it’s a great idea, and a positive student-led project during the hard time of the pandemic,” she said. “I looked forward to each episode and was entertained and educated by the hosts’ sparky exchanges with guests.”

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby guided the grant proposal for Dear Marilyn resulting in the expansion of the podcast to include all four departments at the downtown arts campus (Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture).

    “What’s not to like about Dear Marilyn? It relates directly to our mission to create experiential, professionalized learning for students producing, hosting, editing and broadcasting,” Raby said. “And, it’s entertaining and insightful.”

    DART Associate Professor Danielle Wilson has been working with the team on the second season. Episodes are edited by Alex Sykes, a fourth-year DART student with a concentration in Production and Design.

    Available on Spotify, the next episode goes live this week. For the latest news, follow Dear Marilyn on Instagram.

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  • Graduating art students mount Honours Thesis exhibition

    Pictured above: “Grand-Maman,” a Polaroid emulsion on mylar image by student artist Charelle St-Aubin will be included in the upcoming exhibition “Resurfacing.”

    Originally published in The Brock News |WEDNESDAY, APRIL 06, 2022 | by 

    An upcoming exhibition will showcase the artwork of seven graduating Brock University students, marking a significant milestone in their artistic careers.

    The Visual Arts (VISA) 4F06 Honours Thesis Exhibition, “Resurfacing,” will take place simultaneously at the Visual Arts Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and Niagara Artists Centre in downtown St. Catharines from April 12 to May 12.

    “Resurfacing” explores diverse themes, including issues of identity and resiliency, expressed through various materials and approaches that comprise painting, photography, mixed media and sculpture.

    Taught by Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Troy David Ouellette, with guest curator and writer Shannon Anderson, the fourth-year course is the culmination of two semesters of creative and academic work for students. Participating artists include Rabia Choudhary, Naomi Egbunike, Sarah Formosa, Julie Luth, Kimberley Rogers, Cherilynn Tilley and Charelle St-Aubin.

    The public is invited to attend the opening reception at both gallery locations on Tuesday, April 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. with opening remarks at the MIWSFPA beginning at 5 p.m.

    For more information, please visit the VISA 4F06 Current Exhibit web page.

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  • Visual Arts Department creates perfect pairing with local winery, gallery

    Image caption: A new partnership between Brock University and 13th Street Gallery (pictured above) will see Brock Visual Arts students showcasing their work in an upcoming exhibition beginning Saturday, April 2.

    Originally published in The Brock News |  TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2022 | by 

    A new partnership between Brock’s Department of Visual Arts and 13th Street Winery and Gallery is creating new scholarship and exhibition opportunities for students.

    The pairing’s first collaborative event is set to kick off this weekend, with a selection of work from Visual Arts (VISA) students graduating this spring on show at the 13th Street Gallery, 1776 Fourth Ave. in St. Catharines. The exhibition will run from April 2 to 30, with an artists’ reception taking place Saturday, April 16 between 2 and 5 p.m. that will allow the public to meet the artists and view their work.

    Additionally, 13th Street Winery and Gallery has announced it will provide an annual scholarship to a Visual Arts student to further their artistic practice. The first 13th Street Gallery and Winery Scholarship award winner will be announced at the April 16 reception.

    The gallery specializes in Canadian historical and contemporary fine art. Experiencing compelling art in a gallery setting has always been part of the vision for the premier local winery, which produces premium VQA wines.

    As galleries across the province open their doors after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibiting work in a professional setting presents an exciting opportunity for students to broaden their audiences and gain hands-on exposure to the arts industry.

    Amy Friend, Chair and Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said she’s pleased to begin this collaboration with 13th Street Gallery.

    “Having the work students are doing here at the Marilyn out in the community is wonderful,” she said.

    “We are thrilled to have this growing partnership with Brock University and glad to be able to provide the space for the students,” said John Mann, owner and director of 13th Street Gallery.

    In May, VISA faculty members and alumni have been invited to exhibit their work at the gallery.

    The 13th Street Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. For more gallery information and upcoming exhibition details, please visit the 13th Street Gallery website.

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  • Visual Arts prof commissioned for New York Times Magazine

    Image caption: A process image by Amy Friend, part of her body of work commissioned by The New York Times Magazine in 2021.

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2022 | by 

    When artist and Brock University Professor Amy Friend was contacted by the deputy art director for The New York Times Magazine inviting her to collaborate on an article, she was immediately intrigued.

    Friend, Chair and Associate Professor of Visual Arts (VISA), was struck by the enduring nature of the theme of the piece — focused on loss — written by author Meg Bernhard, and was thrilled to be commissioned for her photography by the weekly publication boasting 4.4 million print readers and a digital readership of 7.7 million. 

    The article “What if There’s No Such Thing as Closure” discusses the work of social scientist and academic Pauline Boss surrounding various types of loss. Specifically, the 87-year-old scholar is well known for her theory of ‘ambiguous loss’ developed in the 1970s with roots in family psychology.

    Boss’s academic research on the subject has seen a resurgence in relevance and popularity given the world events of the past few years, most notably the COVID-19 global pandemic and associated trauma and loss experienced by many, often without the ability to grieve and mourn as was previously done in many cultures. 

    Friend said the framework of ‘ambiguous loss’ resonated with her because of her recent inability to communicate with her father after he had a stroke.

    A slightly blurred photograph with a man lifting a young child wearing swim trunks up in the air while the child waves his right arm. They are standing against a backdrop of trees and dramatic white lines strike through the image from top to bottom.

    A process image by Amy Friend, part of her body of work
    commissioned by The New York Times Magazine in 2021.

    “This commission bridged with my personal experience given that loss is not necessarily death-specific,” she said.

    Friend worked with the art director in a collaborative manner and greatly enjoyed the creative editorial process.

    “This was particularly engaging for me, as creating art can sometimes be a solitary process,” she said. “I thought through the conversations and responded to the feedback from the NYT Magazine team.”

    Engaging with this type of professional process relates back to the classroom for Friend, as such collaborations introduce students to the possibilities of how fine arts practice integrates with mainstream media. It also demonstrates to aspiring student artists the importance of being paid for the creative work they do.

    “Creative practice enters the world through multiple avenues. It folds into the cultural sector, holds a place in the economy and is a vital component of societal interaction,” said Friend.

    In addition to The New York Times Magazine, Friend recently had her work featured in Aesthetica Magazine from her bodies of work “Tiny Tears Fill An Ocean and Multi-verse,” and Musee Magazine, a photography magazine with a section focusing on women in photography.

    Friend has international exhibitions coming up this spring in Paris at In Camera Gallery and at Bildhalle Gallery in Amsterdam. In June (pending travel restrictions), her work will be shown Ricami Gallery in Trapani, Sicily, where she has been invited to give an artist’s talk to local communities. This would not be her first introduction to the Sicilian culture; she has artwork in the permanent collection in the Foundation Orestiadi in Gibellina.

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  • New Visual Arts course examines the anatomical body in historical texts

    Image caption: VISA 3V91 Inside Out – Revealing the Anatomical Body will examine images of the anatomical body in historical medical texts, such as this wooden female anatomical figure (Europe, 1601-1700) from the Science Museum, London, care of Wellcome Collection under a Creative Commons license.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2022 | by 

    A new course open to all Brock University students will critically examine anatomical illustrations throughout history and unpack what these visual representations reveal culturally, socially and artistically.

    Offered in the upcoming Spring/Summer Term, VISA 3V91 — Inside Out — Revealing the Anatomical Body is a new course developed and taught by Linda Carreiro, Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts and Professor of Visual Arts.

    Based out of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), VISA 3V91 is offered as a half course and is open to students across campus. No previous art history knowledge or artistic skills are required to enrol.

    Students will critically examine ‘flap anatomy’ found in historical medical and popular texts dating back to the 1500s, whereby images of layers of the body are peeled open to reveal muscle, organs and skeletal structures. Carreiro is interested in how this convention started, how it evolved and what the implications are from a socio-political perspective.

    The evolution of models and images in historical medical texts is a research specialization for Carreiro, and she is thrilled to bring her learnings and insights to Brock students.

    “Some of the images and models are absolutely stunning from an artistic perspective,” she says, “but these devices convey so much more than how the anatomical structures fit together.”

    Carreiro says it is important to examine who ended up on the dissection table in order to create these images, and what these images might reveal about that particular context.

    “Looking at images of public dissection theatres and profiles of anatomists can provide some of these insights,” she says.

    Students can expect to engage in critical readings, discussions and writing, with the opportunity to engage in studio work. Students must have a minimum of 5.0 overall credits and a minimum 60 per cent overall average or permission of the instructor to register for the course.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website.

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  • Brock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

    Image caption: Dramatic Arts Mainstage actor Yasmine Agocs rehearses a scene from the upcoming production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich, opening Friday, March 4 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Originally published MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2022 in The Brock News | by 

    Through an epic journey on a beloved red bicycle, an 11-year-old girl reflects on the small town she sees before her, taking audiences along for the ride. Venturing to the outer edges of town and encountering challenges unlike any she has ever experienced, she must face her fears to see the world in a new way.

    The Brock University spring 2022 Mainstage production of Red Bike brings the poetic words of celebrated playwright Caridad Svich to life with an exhilarating performance exploring movement, physical theatre and puppetry.

    Dramatic Arts student and Red Bike cast member Arnelle Douglas in
    rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    The show runs March 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 6 and 12 at 2 p.m. at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    The production’s unique style of fractured storytelling explores diverse themes as seen through the eyes of a child, including capitalism, consumerism, gentrification, globalization, immigration and isolation. Director and Dramatic Arts Instructor Mike Griffin was drawn to the play because of its whimsical nature.

    “While reading the play, I became a kid again; running out of the house to go on adventures down the street. Red Bike is the perfect balance of getting lost in imagination while reflecting on society,” he said.

    One of six actors in the all-female cast, fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Asenia Lyall said the unique script and dialogue provided her with a valuable opportunity to explore her creativity.

    “Being a part of Red Bike meant working with a small cast to tell a complicated and wonderful story in an unconventional way,” she said. “Learning how to perform this kind of script is a great opportunity for me as an actor. Embracing the abstraction and surrealism of the piece is something I’ve learned from.” While the cast and crew faced various challenges mounting the show during a pandemic, both the director and actors feel there was a silver lining.

    “We have bonded together as a community to create something fantastic,” Griffin said. “For me, the community that emerges out of the creative process is the reason that I keep doing theatre.”
    Lyall agreed, adding that creating theatre during the pandemic has taught her how to be flexible as an artist.

    “There is a real sense of humanity in this play, with a lot of exciting moments and big reveals that I think audiences will enjoy,” she said.

    The MIWSFPA will welcome a live audience for the production to the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the downtown arts campus in St. Catharines. In the interest of student and audience member safety, the theatre is operating at a reduced capacity with 120 seats available for each performance.

    Tickets are $20 for the public, $16 for youth and seniors and $15 for Brock students. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

    All visitors to Brock University and MIWSFPA must complete the Brock University Self-Screening Tool.

    The all-female cast of the upcoming Brock University production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich includes (from left) Asenia Lyall, Arnelle Douglas, Yasmine Agocs, Joanna Tran, Abby Malcolm and Sarah RowBrock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

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  • 19th century Niagara revisited through new online exhibits

    Originally posted in The Brock News | MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2021 | by 

    Image caption: “Admiring tourists viewing the falls, from Prospect Point, Niagara, USA.,” Niagara Falls Stereo Cards Collection, RG 599, Brock University Archives and Special Collections.

    Brock University students have journeyed to the past collecting images of Niagara in the 1800s and are showcasing their findings in digital exhibits now on view for the community to enjoy.

    Throughout the Fall Term, students enrolled in VISA 2P90 Art in Revolution: Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture took a deep dive into the visual culture of 19th century Niagara while learning how to use CollectionBuilder, Open Source software used by museums, galleries and libraries around the world to build digital collections.

    Led by Keri Cronin, Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, the idea to build online exhibitions with students was sparked by the Digital Scholarship Institute workshop in May offered by Brock’s Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).

    Cronin attended the Digital Scholarship Institute and learned to use the software herself to build online exhibits using basic coding and metadata. She knew the skills would be extremely useful to students.

    “In this contemporary climate, knowing how to build an online presence for an exhibit is a vital, professional skill for students on their career path,” Cronin said. “This is important experiential education — future employers will be impressed.”

    Cronin said bringing the project to fruition was a team effort. The class worked in close collaboration with Digital Scholarship Librarian Tim Ribaric, who supported their technical training on CollectionBuilder. The DSL is the centre of digital scholarship at the University.

    Students also worked with David Sharron, Head of Archives and Special Collections in the Brock University Library, who provided access to the archives for students to research and collect materials from Brock’s digitized collection.

    Sharron said the Library has been digitizing parts of the collections for more than 15 years and when Cronin wanted to develop a major assignment based on these records, it was a quick ‘yes.’

    “There are millions of records that represent Niagara and its history in Archives and Special Collections. It is always a thrill to see what subjects and materials appeal to the modern student and what they can do with them,” said Sharron. “Projects like this bring these historical materials into the digital world in new and exciting ways.”

    Cronin agreed, saying that “traditionally we look at Europe, not Niagara. Students loved engaging with the local history. It gave them an opportunity to learn about key themes relating to 19th century life, art and visual culture.”

    Student Madeline Collins created an online exhibition entitled Modernizing the Landscape – Industrialization at Niagara Falls and called the project unique and illuminating.

    “I’ve never done anything like it,” she said. “Metadata and archival research are kind of like the behind-the-scenes of art history, so it was amazing to get a detailed, hands-on opportunity to try it out.”

    Other examples of student exhibits include Hydroelectric Power Niagara Falls by Ella Sexton examining the relationship between hydroelectricity and Niagara Falls; The Tipped Inkwell by Rachel Stangl looking at 19th century penmanship; A Fond Sigh of Friendship by Abigail Leeder displaying imagery and literature found in a ‘Friendship Journal’; and Don’t Slip and Niagara Fall by Riley Cuddy-Colbon, a collection of images of past extreme winters in Niagara Falls.

    Cronin commended the students for sticking with the project, admitting that CollectionBuilder is a tough platform to use and has its challenges.

    “The students worked through the learning curves, trusted the process, and have created something very special that they will use in their portfolios moving forward.”

    To view all of the student digital exhibits, please visit Cronin’s website.

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  • Dramatic Arts instructor honoured at St. Catharines Arts Awards

    Image caption: Andrew Tye, winner of the Arts in Education Award at the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards. Photo credit: Alex Heidbuechel, BLVD. Photography, courtesy of the City of St. Catharines.

    Published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2021 | by 

    Brock University Dramatic Arts instructor Andrew Tye was among the winners of the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards livestreamed from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) recently.

    At the ceremony held Sunday, Nov. 21, the Brock educator, arts facilitator and public speaking expert was named the recipient of the Arts in Education Award, which celebrates individuals and groups committed to engaging residents through arts education.

    For Tye, arts education is always a collective endeavour.

    “I like the idea of people learning in a community and partnering together. If people did not want to actively participate in learning, it wouldn’t happen in a successful way,” he said.

    Tye teaches DART 2P21 Drama in Education at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). Along with teaching and a successful career as a corporate public speaking and leadership coach, he also serves as a committee member for Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute.

    Striving for an open and inclusive learning environment is a priority for him.

    “Both the students and my colleagues in Dramatic Arts are willing to take risks for what we think is important. This support and openness are key to a successful educational environment,” said Tye. “So many Brock folks understand how the arts can be used to study humanities and the human condition.”

    Tye’s passion for arts education extends to his work in the local arts community with Start Me Up Niagara, Willow Arts Community and past contributions as a former board member of Carousel Players.

    Other award winners from the Brock community included OPIRG Brock for the Making a Difference Award and Jean Bridge, retired Visual Arts faculty member and former professor of Digital Humanities for a Jury’s Pick Award.

    Watch the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards ceremony courtesy of the PAC and the City of St. Catharines below:

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