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The annual Mayor's Luncheon for the Arts was held on June 7, 2018, at the Fort Garry Hotel. Winnipeg’s vibrancy, diversity, and pride in our arts scene was overflowing.  Over 500 celebrants made up of individual artists, arts organizations, local businesses and City Councillors, cheered on all the nominees. 

Mayor Brian Bowman, who presented several awards, spoke passionately about how culture contributes to our economy. Our local arts community was on strong display, with a truly impressive group of nominees.  

Niki Little/Wabiska Maengun won the On the Rise Award for her auspicious work in the visual arts community. Freya Bjorg Olafson, a boundary-pushing performance art pioneer, received the Making a Mark Award. Artist Keith Oliver took home the Making a Difference Award for his many years of contributions to the growth of numerous arts organizations. Ellen Oberlander and Trish Smerchanski, the co-chairs of the School of Contemporary Dancers, were honoured as Outstanding Volunteers. Michael Nesbitt was the recipient of the Arts Champion Award, for his generous contributions to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

An outstanding showcase for our local talent, the luncheon was hosted by the ever-engaging Ify Chiwetelu and Trevor Dineen of CBC Radio’s Now or Never. We were treated to an original poem by Winnipeg’s first Poet Laureate, Di Brandt, and poet and spoken word artist Chimwemwe Undi spoke movingly about the importance of diversity in the arts. 

The Sher-e-Punjab Bhangra Club Dancers, Suzanne Kennelly and Friends, and Indigenous drum group the Buffalo Gals all further united the enthusiastic audience in a joyous celebration of Winnipeg artistry. 

All photos by Lindsey Bond.

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