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Barrie Arts Awards 

The City presented the 2016 Barrie Arts Awards on Wednesday, November 16th at 6:30 pm at the Southshore Centre, honouring several stellar individuals for their amazing contributions to the arts sector. 

2016 Short-listed Nominees & Award Winners

Most Promising Youth Tim Beattie
Tori Hathaway
Tim Beattie
Emerging Artist Joshua Doerksen
Ryan LaPlante
Marcus Rodgers
Joshua Doerksen
Business Champion Wendy Miller
Gerry Pilon
Amanda J Rodgers
Wendy Miller
Excellence in the Arts Jim Blackley
James Harrison
John McEwan
Jim Blackley
Contribution to the Community Art in House
Linda LaForge
Arkady Spivak
Art in House

Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination. To learn more about how to nominate someone for a future Barrie Arts Award, please review the guidelines within the 2016 Nomination forms.

2016 Performances

Ron Sexsmith
For Ron Sexsmith, there’s always a trigger to an album, something that sets in motion the songs he’s writing not exactly as a concept, but certainly a theme or feel. His last album, Forever Endeavour, was born of a health scare while its predecessor Long Player, Late Bloomer was born of disillusionment. 2015’s Carousel One, however, finds Sexsmith in surprising territory for a man often pegged as a downbeat balladeer: he’s actually contented. Self-deprecating almost to a fault, Ron has been a critical success ever since his self-titled debut back in 1995, winning the admiration of major league songwriters such as Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney along the way. Read More

Commercial success, however, has not been so forthcoming for the boy from the blue-collar town of St. Catharines, Ontario. Carousel One (named for the luggage retrieval belt at Los Angeles airport where bags off Toronto flights are delivered) is probably Sexsmith’s most diverse album, another “happy accident”. Songs like ‘No One’ came from the idea of attempting to write in the vein of Roger Miller. Opening track ‘Sure As The Sky’ originated as a folky campfire song but it turned into more of a folk/rock number. ‘Saint Bernard’ meanwhile, is a tribute to an anonymous family dog from a photograph picked up in a second-hand shop by Ron’s wife, Colleen. It’s the perfect example of how he can make even a wistful, nostalgic song turn with a touch of humour, equating the dog that saves him as his own personal minibar. So, here’s to happy accidents; raise a glass to Ron Sexsmith’s Carousel One and his new-found contentment.

Eh440, the incredible Toronto-based vocal group, was born in 2012 and they got lucky from the start.  Most bands’ first gig is at a backyard BBQ or wedding.  Eh440’s first gig was performing the national anthems for the Valentine's Day 2012 Toronto Raptors vs. New York Knicks NBA game. Singing in an arena for 20,000 people? Pretty good first gig! Eh440 is a mix of 5 people from 5 very different backgrounds and musical genres.  Joe's been a low bass singer his entire life, Luke's an urban beatboxer, Janet identifies as a country/pop singer, Stacey's soul/rap/pop, and Jake likes contemporary vocal/pop music. Together they form "an unforgettable combination of crazy beatboxing, sassy rapping, killer harmonies, and fresh, urban, RnB-influenced compositions". Read More

Eh440 has been stunning audiences worldwide since they first hit the stage a few years ago. With just a beatboxer, bass vocalist, and 3 very different lead singers, this means that they are technically an ‘a cappella’ group but most people think of them as something very different. Following the release of their award-winning 2014 debut release Turn Me Up, Eh440 wanted to step things up to a new level.  A level they hadn’t yet achieved – the boss level!

The September 2016 release of their new album, Boss Level, has generated some exciting fan reviews too.  Some are saying they can’t stop playing it on repeat.  Others are saying that a particular song has inspired them in some way.  So this latest release is clearly a step in a new direction for Eh440 and they are getting exactly what the album title says 'boss level feedback about a boss level album' and they couldn’t be more excited!

Damian Lopes, Poet Laureate for the City of Barrie
From poetry to fiction, image to text, and print to screen, the current Poet Laureate for the City of Barrie, Damian Lopes’ work explores the impacts of emigration and technology on culture, the re-creation of myths after migration, and the interstices that result. The author of three print books and two electronic works of poetry, he is currently completing his first book of fiction. Lopes is a writer member of PEN Canada, and a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada. He also served as the founding chair of the Barrie Arts and Culture Council from 2008-2012. Read More

Lopes was the web editor and a consulting editor at Coach House Books from 1998–2004. During that time, he helped put their full front list online. From 1990–1998, he ran the micro press fingerprinting ink-operated, producing chapbooks, leaflets and broadsides by authors such as Nelson Ball, Daniel F Bradley, Christian Bök, jwcurry, MAC Farrant, Gerry Gilbert, bpNichol, David UU, Darren Wershler, and Alana Wilcox. For a short time in 1995, his brother, Dominic McIver Lopes, and he ran Caju Press.

Born in Aberdeen Scotland and raised in Toronto Canada, Lopes traces his family over much of the globe, including the UK, New Zealand, Tanzania, India and Portugal. He graduated as a music major from the Etobicoke School of the Arts, and English major from McGill University. Having cottaged in Simcoe county throughout his childhood, he now lives in Barrie Ontario with his wife and son, and cottages farther north.

Tori Hathaway
Passion, Spirit, Determination - Traits that shape Ontario rising star, Tori Hathaway. At just 17, this talented singer-songwriter is embracing her upward spiraling music career. The songstress has raised over $10,000 for local charities and continues to use her gifts to engage with young artists, encouraging them to follow their heart and to never give up! In tune with her responsibility as a role model for tweens, her new release "Dear Diary" is uplifting and and inspirational for fans of all ages. With professional memberships including SOCAN, SAC, NSAI, AFM/CFM Local 149, CMAO and CCMA, Tori’s musical crusade has only just begun!
The Dance Academy
At The Dance Academy, the mission is to provide everyone the opportunity to experience dance in a family oriented, structured and inspiring environment. The academy strives to nurture a lifelong appreciation for dance by offering a range of recreational and competitive classes for all ages, hosted by qualified instructors and choreographers. Dancers Julliana Gould, Evie Pottage and Lauren Bruce  are members of The Dance Academy’s Competitive team and have all been dancing since a young age. Their love for dance keeps them inspired, disciplined, and confident! This event’s performance is choreographed by Brittany Lavigne. Read More

Brittany works as a full-time movement instructor in Barrie, ON and the GTA.  Her passion for music and movement are undeniable as she fell in love with dance at a young age. Brittany received most of her formal dance training with The National Ballet School, and most recently George Brown College, graduating from their triple threat Commercial Dance Program. Brittany has had the privilege to train with some of the industry’s most sought after instructors and choreographers, dancing in music videos, for live performances and at many other events. She now enjoys instructing and sharing her knowledge with students at various studios across Ontario, teaching guest workshops as well as regular classes at studios in Barrie and the Toronto area.  Brittany is very involved in the fitness and conditioning community as a certified Pilates Instructor, and the creator/ founder of Barre Essentials. Brittany is also co-artistic director of Sole to Soul Dance Inc, organizing educational dance workshops for young dancers and teachers all over the Canada that nourish mind, body and "sole".

Looking to profile your business or organization to the Barrie Arts Awards audience?

As an event sponsor, you can build brand recognition through our promotion campaign, including print advertising, social media, website, and printed materials. Our partnerships are valued and contribute directly towards providing recognition to and celebration of our local arts community. Opportunities are available for in-kind or monetary sponsorships, starting at $300. For more information, download the Sponsorship Opportunities form or contact Amanda Dyke, Culture Officer - Development, at (705) 739-4220, ext. 4593 or

2015 Winners

Contribution to the Community: Shane L.S. Dennis bio   

Shane is continually contributing to the arts and to his community, and those around him know there is no end to his energy. Through his creation of Unity Market and Café, Shane has provided an enriching centre for creative people. His Inspiration Station – Unity Market and Café is a hub for artists of all kinds to work, play, practice and perform, while eating nourishing, locally grown food. He would take off Sundays but that is the day he is out cleaning up garbage with a crew of volunteers that he has inspired.

A brief list of Shane’s accomplishments includes the Community Album Project, an artist development program for youth 15 – 25 striving to establish a career in music. Shane mentors the youth with their songwriting, recording, marketing, performing and stage presence. Through this work they produce albums, the second of which is due to be release soon. Shane works with the City of Barrie with their initiative to beautify Barrie by having local artists showcase their work on garbage barrels, electrical boxes and Bell boxes. Shane hosts a monthly “Word Up” event that gives new and published authors the chance to read their work in an inclusive and enlightening environment.

Shane is an accomplished artist and has performed his uplifting and conscious raising music across North America, Europe and New Zealand. Shane performs at a host of local events and he is scheduled to release his 3rd solo album “INUNUMI” in early 2016.  Shane is striving to be nominated for a Juno Award. Shane is a philanthropies that gives daily to growing the arts and culture in our community, the city he loves, Barrie.

Business Award: Mike Stollery bio   

For the past ten years Mike Stollery, President and Senior Partner of Barrie Ford and Chrysler, has been a foundational supporter of the local performing arts community. Mike has been one of Theatre by the Bay’s most valued patrons, being especially engaged in TBTB’s young artist development and theatre for young audience programs. Mike’s business has been the title sponsor for the Stars Come Out, the once a year Theatre by the Bay fundraising extravaganza that always dazzles all who attend.

Mike certainly recognizes the importance that the arts plays in developing a vibrant community so he has volunteered tirelessly for several arts organizations, as well as providing them with greatly appreciated financial support. Mike is allied with many community and charitable foundations, for example he has been closely connected to, and supportive of, the Royal Victoria Hospital and its recent fundraising campaigns. Mike has continually committed his support to Gilda’s Club, that assists families with challenges they face as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Christmas Cheer, the local Food Bank, The David Busby Centre and the Season’s Centre for Grieving Children are just some of the other charities that have benefited from Mike and Barrie Ford and Chrysler.

Mike also has a passion for education and he serves on the board of the Kempenfelt Bay School. One of his proudest accomplishments is his recent appointment as Campaign Chair for the 40 million dollar “Power of Education Campaign”. This significant undertaking solidifies Mike’s ongoing commitment to education, and his community.

Excellence in the Arts: Bruce Meyer bio   

The work of Dr. Bruce Meyer, B.A.,M.A., Ph.D. is difficult to summarize in a few short paragraphs. Bruce is the author of over 40 books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, pedagogy and literary journalism. His publications (books) include Seasons, his latest collection that is an unabashed paean to human love and the invisible cords that bind a man and a woman together. In this brave and passionate hundred sonnet sequence the poet’s moving tribute to his wife navigates the vagaries of intimacy through the passing of the seasons. Poetry is only one of Bruce’s fortes, he has also written the likes of A Short History of Yes (non-fiction), The Authors: Portraits of Canadian Writers (photographs and essays) and Goodbye Mr. Spalding (short stories).

Bruce has written over 100 articles, essays and reviews that have been published in Canadian Literature, Homemakers, The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature, Poetry Canada review, Waves, The Windsor Star to name but a few. Bruce’s broadcasts on The Great Books became the CBC’s best-selling spoken-word audio series and evolved into the national bestseller, The Golden Thread: A Reader’s Journey Through the Great Books. His is a professor of English at Georgian College and also teaches at Laurentian University, Victoria College in the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s College of Continuing Education Program. Bruce is the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Barrie.

Bruce has received a long list of awards, such as E.J. Pratt Gold Medal for Prize and Poetry, Alta Lind Cook Award, Exile Vanderbilt Short Fiction Prize, Free Magazine National Poetry Prize, TV Ontario Best Lecturer Competition, James Hearst Memorial, T.S. Eliot and the Word Press Prize. Bruce’s works have been translated into French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Bangla. Bruce has presented 44 papers and been a writer in residence and a visiting lecturer at several North American universities. We are fortunate to have this level of dedication and talent in our community.

Most Promising Youth: Amariah Faulkner bio   

Amariah Faulkner began her career in the arts at the ripe old age of four, when she approached a TVO crew at a Newmarket mall when filming a childrens show entitled Don’t Sit Still. Amariah was attempting to make connections in the industry and this forward approach has served her well.

Amariah is both a dedicated and talented triple threat performer, two very necessary pre-requisites within the industry which she has chosen to work. Now at 14 years old, Amariah is a member of both the Actors Equity and ACTRA and has an extensive resume of work in theatre, film, television, voice-overs and commercials. Amariah studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music for voice and piano, she also studies dance for and she recently completed exams in Ballet, Jazz and Modern. Amariah is a student member of the Royal Academy of Dance.

To provide you with a small sample of her resume, Amariah has performed in the following theatrical productions, Mary Poppins at the Neptune Theatre, The Heart of Robin Hood, a Mirvish Production, Annie at the Kings Wharf Theatre, and the Sound of Music, also a Mirvish Production. She has also been in the following films and television programs; Max and Shred, Odd Squad, Broken Heart Sydrome, The Ron James Show, The Doodlebops and CBC Mighty Mama Segments to name but a few. Amariah has been in commercials representing a host of organizations such as Tim Hortons, Walmart, Hoc Docs, Leon’s, CDIC, Shreddies and Healthy Eating. Amariah’s nomination included letters from Stage Managers who have had the pleasure of working with her and they wrote. “That Amariah won the audition is a testaments to her many talents. Since then she has confirmed the wisdom of her selection. She relates strongly to other actors onstage, takes notes and make adjustments to her performance with great finesse, and is able to direct her concentration with remarkable consistency day after day. She moves well, her diction is excellent and she show exceptional discipline allied with her gifts – she is an exceptional young talent”.

Amariah is definitely Barrie’s Most Promising Youth.

Emerging Artist: Max Lupo bio   

Max Lupo is an emerging artist currently enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Arts Media and Design program at the Ontario College of Art and Design University of Toronto. Max, a born and raised Barrie boy, completed the Bachelor of Fine Art at Georgian College through Thompson Rivers University with a specialization in printmaking and new media sculpture.

In 2015, Max has his first solo exhibition at a public institution, the Campus Gallery at Georgian College, a testament to his level of talent, prior to which he had 2 solo shows at Verso Gallery in Toronto. Max’s work focusses on the development of inventions that are used for performative and interactive installations. His work mines feelings of nostalgia and novelty to subvert the expectations of an object or experience. Incorporating humour and irony, he decontextualizes objects to generate unsuspecting new relationships and understanding of them. Even at this early stage of his career, Max has received positive critical acclaim, with reviews in publications including Boing, Boing, blogTO and The Creators Project.

Lupo is incredibly skilled in the realms of technology and electronics, inventing and fabricating devices such as The Automatic Affirmation Device. Riffing on the idea of the magic eight ball, a toy used for seeking advice and telling the future, this device functions as a personal confidence booster by answering every question with the answer ‘YES”.

In addition to his burgeoning arts practice, Max plays an important role in promoting and fostering the arts in Barrie. He is a founder of Art in House, a community art gallery that celebrates art, creativity and community. Under Lupo’s leadership Art in House raises awareness of local forms of artistic expression, promotes local artists by providing exhibition space, as well as presenting art classes to children and youth. Through this initiative Max has gained valuable experience as a curator and educator, not just at Art in House but in other venues in the County.

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