Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Barrie Arts Awards presented by TD

The 2017 Barrie Arts Awards presented by TD took place on Wednesday, November 15th at 6:30 pm at the Southshore Centre, honouring several stellar individuals or collectives for their amazing contributions to the arts sector. 

The full event will be available to view at soon. The direct link will be posted here once it is available.

2017 Awards Winners

Most Promising Youth: Melina Melle

Melina Melle is an 18-year old pop singer songwriter from Barrie. Her music has influences of Ed Sheeran and Selena Gomez and her attitude is reminiscent of Alanis Morissette. She works with songwriters and producers in Barrie, Toronto, Nashville and Los Angeles. Currently in her first year at Durham College in the Music Business Program, Melina Melle is self-promoting on social media, has seen an increase of followers on Instagram and received over 230,000 views of her cover of Justin Bieber’s “Cold Water” in a week when it was featured on “The Amazing Singers” Instagram channel. She won the “Northern Ontario Singing Competition” at age 13 (in the 13 - 18 year old category), was chosen as the winner of the “Best Song” at the Songwriter Girl Camp in Nashville in 2015 by a panel of industry professionals and won the “North of Nashville” Competition at Kempenfest in the summer of 2015.  For the past five summers, Melina has been busking in downtown Barrie and has also performed at Hugh’s Room, The Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, and Horseshoe and Blue Mountain Resorts.  This past August, she was one of the featured performers at the “Muskoka Craft Beerfest”.  Currently, her manager John Huffman IV is in talks with some publishing companies to secure a publishing deal for the release of a single and music video.

Emerging Artist, presented by Georgian College DVA: Brendan Hiles

Brendan Hiles is a writer/director/producer/actor born in, and based out of, Barrie. To this day, he has written, directed, produced, edited, and/or shot close to a hundred short films of different styles and genres. From his first, tender and goofy parodies of his high school days; to the carefully nurtured documentaries, music videos, and narrative works in university and college; to his more introspective and collaborative post-academic works—he has kept his passion for the craft and its didactic and cathartic power. That passion led him to multiple academic institutions, where he was imbued with the knowledge to appreciate the aesthetics behind the craft. He graduated from both Brock University, with a major in Film Studies, and Fanshawe College, through their Advanced Filmmaking Program. After graduating, Brendan has focused on writing, directing, and producing a prolific output of narrative works. This output includes several award-winning and festival-selected shorts. His adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway short story, Hills Like White Elephants, recently won 3rd Place in the Simcoe County Category at the 2017 Barrie Film Festival. Brendan continues to grow and evolve as an artist and his love for writing and filmmaking has not diminished in the least. He is currently writing a feature film script and hopes to bring it into production sometime during the summer of 2018.

Business Champion, presented by Pratt Homes: Anna Small

Anna was destined to have a passion for the arts, as both her parents were deeply involved in Toronto’s cultural community. Their love for the arts was the inspiration for her to use her business, being a realtor for Keller-Williams Experience Reality, as a means of supporting Barrie’s performing arts community. Anna has been a sponsor of various companies and initiatives throughout Barrie’s cultural community. This year, Anna was the sponsor of Theatre by the Bay’s monthly playwriting series, The Barrie Theatre Lab, and Talk is Free Theatre’s concert The Next Generation Leahy. In previous years, she has supported a range of projects including TBTB’s Stars Come Out and Shakespeare in the Classroom program, the Untapped series 2 and 3, the Barrie Music Festival (for which she was also an adjudicator), and TIFT’s Comedy Festival. She was also a financial sponsor for the creation of the downtown Centre for the Performing Arts and, more recently, a vocal advocate for the W.A. Fisher Auditorium project. Anna’s commitment to Barrie’s artistic community is far more extensive than just her financial contributions. She has served on the board of directors for Theatre by the Bay (2002-2011), the Barrie Music Festival (2009-2014), and is a current Board Member for Talk is Free Theatre. She is also a proud advocate for the Barrie cultural community. Anna often buys large numbers of tickets for performances to encourage new audiences, and, through her extensive travels across the country, spreads the word about the high-calibre art in our community.

Excellence in the Arts: Alex Dault

Alex Dault has worked as a playwright and director exhibiting immense commitment to the Barrie theatre arts community over the past fifteen years.  His plays express a passion for Canadian history, a fascination with concepts of truth and a yearning for immediacy in storytelling. Recently, Alex has been writing about Barrie. His most recent play, The Five Points, was a kaleidoscope of perspectives on Barrie’s downtown. Alex also wrote We Must Have More Men! Barrie and the Great War alongside Danielle Joy Kostrich. The play looks at how Barrie was impacted by conscription during the First World War. Lastly, Alex’s ‘walking tour’ play about how Barrie came to be, Nine Mile Portage, has been remounted three times on Barrie’s waterfront. He is currently in the process of writing a fourth play about Barrie set during the Second World War. In his role as Artistic Director of Theatre by the Bay, Alex has produced fifteen shows for the company. He has emphasized the apprenticeship and hiring of local professional theatre artists and has since his tenure began employed more than one hundred local creatives. Alex has also worked hard to attract more artistic talent to Barrie by creating The Indie Producer’s Co-Op, a program that teaches artistic producing to graduating students from George Brown Theatre School and, as of 2017, to Ryerson School of Performance. Last year, he conceived the Barrie Theatre Lab, a monthly playwriting get-together which now sees more than 30 attendees every month coming together to read work by local playwrights. 

Artist Without Barriers, presented by City of Barrie Accessibility Advisory Committee: Leonora Husveti-Frenette

Leonora has garnered acclaim in dance, performing arts, poetry and mixed media visual art. All despite living with Fibromyalgia. She has endured as a performer, writer and visual artist, using these various media to express herself, and to great reception from the arts community and beyond. Her first collage work won 2nd prize at South Simcoe Arts Council. Leonora’s fourth collage was selected for a juried show at Orillia’s Museum of Art and History.  Her tenth collage was part of the national Carmichael Landscape show, garnering a newspaper article and magazine interview.  In 2014 the South Simcoe Arts Council awarded Leonora the Alice Forestell Award for most promising emerging artist.  Leonora’s near-perfect acceptance rate was astonishing. She participated in national juried shows at OMAH and Quest Gallery.  Her works were exhibited in Toronto’s Todmorden Mills and Joseph D. Carrier galleries and others. In 2016 Leonora was selected by jurors for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario's Shades of Ability, an exhibition for Ontario artists with disabilities.  Leonora won Best in Mixed Media.  She decided to add her voice to those championing people with disabilities.  In 2017 she won Best in Mixed Media again, as well as Best in Show. In less than 5 years, Leonora has participated in 80 juried exhibits, including 7 solo shows.

Contribution to the Community: Simcoe Contemporary Dancers

Simcoe Contemporary Dancers (SCD) is a not-for-profit professional company in Simcoe County that exists to encourage and showcase the development of local professional contemporary dance. SCD are pioneers in this community as the region’s first performance-based not-for-profit dance organization. Simcoe Contemporary Dancers offers a variety of training opportunities in the community. During this year’s Carnegie Days at the MacLaren Art Centre, SCD presented a free demonstration and interactive workshop on the connections between choreography and coding. Working together, the participants built chance-based dances for the audience and artists to bring to life. In 2014-2015, SCD in partnership with the YMCA launched a Creative Dance Program, offering classes for children ages 3-12. In this program students participated in a variety of dance and movement exercises from choreographed phrases to guided improvisations. SCD has produced a number of shows within Barrie, each offering different opportunities to engage the community with dance. The most recent examples, both from 2017, are Dusk Dances Barrie presented at Lampman Lane Park, and Trajectory, staged at the downtown Centre for the Performing Arts. Other examples are SCD’s free admission performances and workshops presented at Carnegie Days and Winterfest in partnership with the MacLaren Art Centre, holiday performances at the Innisfil Public Library and Holly Community Centre, and a Simcoe County library tour. Through these performances, workshops and more, SCD have facilitated numerous opportunities to collaborate as a community in a non-competitive atmosphere – providing a platform to be expressive, creatively engaged and challenged.  

Award Categories

Nominations were accepted until 4:30 pm Monday, October 23rd for the below categories. Nominees must work, live, attend school, exhibit or perform within Barrie. A nominee may be nominated for only one award per year. Past winners may not be nominated for the same award they won in a previous year but may be nominated for a different category.

NEW IN 2017: Artist Without Barriers
Must be an artist, performer or writer, who has demonstrated creative originality through a body of work despite living with a continuous or recurrent mental or physical disability that results in a substantial restriction in their ability to work, care for themselves, or take part in community life. May be deceased or living. This award is sponsored by the City of Barrie's Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Excellence in Arts
Must be an established professional artist, performer or author, who has demonstrated through one or more bodies of work creative originality, professional maturity and artistic leadership.  These individuals may be living or deceased.

Emerging Artist presented by Georgian College DVA
Must be an individual who has begun to develop a body of work in preparation/or pursuit of a professional career in the arts.

Contribution to the Community
Must be an individual, duo or collective that has played a significant role in the development of an arts organization or program, or contributed to the overall arts community in building capacity and enriching the lives of Barrie residents and the local environment.  These individuals may be living or deceased.

Most Promising Youth
Must be 19 years of age or younger, and currently enrolled in a secondary or post-secondary institution.  This youth will have demonstrated a superior ability in their art form.  This award can be for any form of art; eg. visual, performing, literary, etc.

Business Champion presented by Pratt Homes
This award will be given to an individual or business operating in the Barrie area that has consistently and significantly supported the arts through either financial and/or in-kind means.  This award may be granted to a business that has made a concerted effort to build capacity in the arts.

Looking to profile your business or organization to the 2018 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

Looks like your screen is a bit too small

The page you are attempting to view is not currently compatible with the dimensions of your device. Please visit this page on a larger screen.