Jazz drummer Curtis Nowosad, who is leaving Winnipeg to study at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, received a parting gift Thursday at the Winnipeg Arts Awards.
Nowosad took home the $2,500 On the Rise Award that recognizes a promising artist in the city. It is the second year in a row that the 25-year-old musician has been nominated for the award at the annual Mayor's Luncheon for the Arts -- he must have been seen in 2012-13 to be more "on the rise."
"It has been a pretty crazy year, actually," said the University of Manitoba graduate, who in the last 12 months has recorded his first album, travelled to Washington. D.C., to take part in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center and was offered scholarships from six top graduate schools, including Julliard. "I'm leaving town and it is nice to have this support of the community."
It was also two times lucky for another nominee of the annual awards, which were presented at the Fort Garry Hotel before a full house of 500 members of the arts community as well as well Mayor Sam Katz. Odette Heyn and Faye Thomson, longtime co-directors of the School of Contemporary Dancers, won the Making a Difference Award, which recognizes the contribution of an artist or arts administrator to the growth and development of the arts in Winnipeg. They were also nominated for the $2,500 prize last year.
For the first time, the Winnipeg Arts Council bestowed a lifetime achievement award and it went to Winnipeg's oldest working actress, Doreen Brownstone. The pioneering 90-year-old performer was onstage for the Manitoba Theatre Centre's first play in 1958 and again for a production in its 50th season. The England-born Brownstone, who came to Winnipeg in 1946, was the first Canadian stage actor to work past the age of 80.
She earned the event's only standing ovation.
"It's a beautiful tribute," said Brownstone, during an interview. "It's been a pleasure to be onstage all these years and people have told me they have enjoyed my work, but I enjoyed it more. I'm getting an award for enjoying myself."
Deco Dawson, who won the Making a Mark Award, has also been enjoying himself, owing to all the accolades received for his short film Keep a Modest Head, a biographical documentary about surrealist artist Jean Benoit. It's been a banner year for the 33-year-old filmmaker and to be given a prize that honours an artist in mid-career receiving critical recognition was the topper.
"I've had a remarkable 12 months and regardless of the international attention, to be recognized by my own city with this prestigious award is a truly meaningful accolade," he said. "This is my 15th year anniversary of creating film and it feels like a real personal honour."
Last week, Keep a Modest Head won the 2013 Best Short Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival and was nominated in the same category at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards in March. It won the Best Short Film Award from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was named one of the 10 Best Short Films of the year by TIFF.
Dawson was also given the province's 2013 Hothouse Award, awarded to a Manitoba filmmaker of outstanding repute.
Gail Asper, one of the city's most prominent cultural supporters, won the Arts Champion Award.
The outstanding volunteer award went to Alison Norberg, who for five years has been the president of the Manitoba Craft Council.
The 2013 jurors were University of Winnipeg film professor Howard Curle, aboriginal music program manager Alan Greyeyes, Perry Grosshans, general manager of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, performance artist Ming Hon and painter Diane Whitehouse.