The Winnipeg Arts Council will celebrate the lifeblood of any community organization — its volunteers — at Thursday’s Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts.

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The Winnipeg Arts Council will celebrate the lifeblood of any community organization — its volunteers — at Thursday’s Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts.

The arts council’s Outstanding Volunteer award is one of five prizes that will be presented at the annual gathering of the city’s cultural organizations at the Fort Garry Hotel.

Nominated for the award are:

  • Dianne Harms, a founding member of ArtsJunktion;
  • Alice MacKenzie, a volunteer and board member for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra; and
  • Gary Styrchak, a board member of the Manitoba Printmakers Association.

Harms’ versatility and enthusiasm — besides being ArtsJunktion’s treasurer she also helps out with the organization’s many arts workshops and other events — is what makes her such a key person in the group, says ArtsJunktion past chair Melanie Janzen.

Alice MacKenzie</p></p>

Alice MacKenzie

"She has a ton of different skills," Janzen says. "If we had to pay her for the hours that she puts in, there would be no ArtsJunktion."

The same could be said about Styrchak’s contribution to the Manitoba Printmakers Association. In a letter to the arts council, the association says it would have never found its new Exchange District home at the Martha Street Studio without Styrchak.

Not only is he the association’s longest-serving board member and managed the renovation of the studio, but he even worked with contractors to remove a nest of pigeons from the facility’s attic so a new roof could be built, the letter says.

Dianne Harms</p></p>

Dianne Harms

While the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra is known for its elegant classical music concerts — such as Nanabush and the Drum, a collaboration with Théâtre Cercle Molière that begins a two-night run tonight at Westminster United Church — MacKenzie is behind one of its more visible fundraising events.

She’s the one who arranges the pickup of old records for the orchestra’s monthly Vinyl Vault sales that draw collectors from all over the city.

"She looks after all that as well as being secretary of the board for 15 years, at least," says MCO managing director Vicki Young.

Volunteers serve as ushers at MCO concerts, help out at fundraising events and work in the office, Young says.

"They carry a lot of the institutional knowledge (that’s important) to the community," she says. "Alice’s spirit is a good example of what can be done by volunteers in our community."

Gary Styrchak</p></p>

Gary Styrchak

Along with the award, a $1,000 cash donation in the winner’s name goes to the organization that submitted the nomination.

The other prizes include:

  • On the Rise, a $2,500 award that goes to a promising professional artist;
  • Making the Mark, a $2,500 award for professional artists who have received critical recognition;
  • Making a Difference, a $2,500 prize for an artist or administrator’s contribution to the arts in Winnipeg; and
  • the Arts Champion award, which honours a business or individual’s sustained support for the arts in the city.

The MC for this year’s event is Anishinaabe musician Leonard Sumner, who won the arts council’s On the Rise award in 2014.

Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.