Past Recipients of a Collingwood Arts and Culture Award

Congratulations to past Collingwood Arts & Culture Award recipients!

2016  | 2015  | 2014  |  2013  |  2012  |  2011



Youth category: Rebecca Herman
Organization/Group: Gaslight Community Theatre Productions
Adult: Lory MacDonald

Mayor Sandra Cooper presents Rebecca Herman with the 2016 Collingwood Arts and Culture Award in the Youth Category.
Photos: Dave West Photography

Mayor Sandra Cooper with the the 2016 Collingwood Arts and Culture Award winners from the Organization Category the Gaslight Community Theatre including (l to r) Monica Wilson, Colleen Hough, Hella Sandberg and Melissa Shaw.

Mayor Sandra Cooper presents Lory MacDonald (founder of Magic of Children in the Arts) with the 2016 Collingwood Arts and Culture Award in the Adult Category.


Sohayla Smith & the Smith Brothers opened the evening
MC Dean Hollin performs with Kimberley Raeburn-Gibson
2012 Award receipient Aidan Funston (at left) performs with his brother Decklan Funston
Each recipient received a hydrostone sculpture called “Living Column” by Creemore artist Ann Clifford. The sculpture was commissioned especially for the awards and was inspired by the creative energy of those in our community like this year’s nominees as well as the event logo by Tara McLellan.

2016 Nominees:

Dylan Burchell has a strong passion for music, especially blues. His dedication has propelled him to excel in all areas of music performance, theory and composition. Dylan was an active senior member of the Collingwood Collegiate Institute’s Jazz Band as a guitarist. His exceptional leadership and strong soloing helped the band achieve gold standards at MusicFest Canada competitions across Ontario. 

From an early age, Dylan’s family encouraged his love of music. His initial remembrance of music was of the Beatles and Pink Floyd but early on his interest turned to Jazz and blues after hearing local Blues guitarist and singer Wayne Buttery. His main musical influences are B.B. King, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Mayer and Derek Trucks. 

In addition to his guitar performance, Dylan composes music, plays piano and trumpet. He performed at every CCI assembly and enjoys the opportunity to perform regularly in the community as a soloist or with his band. “He was the opening act at Jazz at the Station this year and a leading participant in the Future of Jazz and Blues program”, writes local jazz and blues champion Frank McNulty, Dylan’s nominator.

Dylan will be attending the Humber College Jazz Program this Fall. 

Kaiden Collver leads by example, with a positive and infectious enthusiasm for creating art. Not one to shy away from attempting new creative techniques, Kaiden naturally encourages his peers to experiment and explore new styles in his visual art classes at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Kaiden is one of the community’s first art buskers having auditioned and been granted a license to create spray paint art on the streets of downtown Collingwood. “Kaiden has a tremendous commitment to art and embraces opportunities to get involved”, described art teacher William Vancise in his nomination letter.

Kaiden picked up brush and paint as a set painter for the CCI production of Wizard of Oz. He joined the organizing committee to help develop the first ArtXPress event for teens. Held at the grain terminals, the event featured three-20 minute rounds of live art-making in which students displayed their originality and creativity on canvas, paper and board. Kaiden won over audience members in the spray paint round with his confident approach and unique style.

With fellow Grade 9 art students, Kaiden designed and painted a muskoka chair for this year’s Collingwood Art on the Street program. Kaiden has recently expanded his artistic pursuits to include photography and has entered his photos on the Experience Collingwood facebook page.

Gaslight Community Theatre Productions brings together over 80 volunteers each year to research, perform and celebrate the history of Collingwood. A new theme is selected each year to inspire colourful stories that are brought to life by local playwrights and actors. Over 650 tour participants visit four venues to see these original tales. Now in its seventh season, the Gaslight Tour is a sell-out event that enriches both volunteers and audiences with a stronger understanding of Collingwood’s past.

Founded in 2010 by Arlene Noble, Gaslight Community Theatre is now guided by Monica Wilson, Executive Producer of the Gaslight Tour, Jan Schennach, Producer of the Page-to-Stage writing programs, and Shirley Joost, Producer of Gaslight Youth Theatre. In 2016 the group sponsored the children’s play, The Little Princess, held a drama workshop for teens and completed and selected the four winning plays from the playwriting competition .This year’s theme for the Gaslight Tour is “Lighthouse Legends”, about our endangered Imperial lighthouse.

Nominators Anke and Rick Lex, write in their submission, “Gaslight Community Theatre makes our community a better place to live; nothing is more bonding and educational then to create with others. Gaslight Community Theatre is truly deserving of this award.”

Yvonne Gibson - Adult Category

Yvonne Gibson is known for her passion and drive when it comes to all things artistic. Her ability to rally volunteers and come up with new events and ideas to keep the arts relevant makes her a natural leader. “Yvonne has been an incredible advocate for the arts,” writes co-nominator Carol Bowden.  

Yvonne is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit organization supporting the arts across South Georgian Bay with 11 sub-committees, multiple annual exhibitions, awards and events. Yvonne has been Chair of the long running Collingwood Arts and Music Festival for the past 11 years. The 2-day outdoor festival, features artist booths, art demonstrations, a children’s tent and live music on the grounds of the Collingwood Museum.

Yvonne is a self-taught artist and enjoys painting local landscapes. She creates watercolour pet portraits and is well known for her unique sculptural Santa creations. Yvonne is also a photographer and her works have been shown in Collingwood Art on the Street. Co-nominator Paulette West writes “I think of Yvonne as always being involved in the arts as an artist, painter/photographer and volunteer administrator.”

Rebecca Herman - Youth Category

Rebecca Herman is a young artist with intuitive talents which she shares enthusiastically with the community. Her generous spirit and passion for the arts led her to create the poster for the inaugural Collingwood Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s & Colitis and contribute graphic design skills for her church events and newsletter. Rebecca volunteers for summer camp, encouraging children to explore their creative abilities. Nominator Shirley Joost describes the grade 12 student as, “a great mentor for younger kids, eagerly sharing her talents with them”.

Inspired to pursue art by her Uncle, Rebecca participates annually in the Great Northern Exhibition and has won numerous awards for her creations, including a sculpture advanced to the regional level. Rebecca embraces every opportunity to participate in the local arts scene.  Her artwork was selected for a banner for Collingwood Art on the Street 2016 and Rebecca not only participated in all three competitive categories for the first ArtXPress event, she won the Paint it! category.

Rebecca also enjoys track and field and plays the flute and piano. She loves to create unique cards for others. She created her own website to share her artwork and offers free colouring pages at

Jim Kinnear - Adult Category

Jim Kinnear is an advocate, facilitator and initiator of the arts in Collingwood. As a volunteer of the Great Northern Exhibition for over 20 years, Jim initiated the Fiddle Contest, Step-Dance and Youth Talent Competitions, as well as many stage shows. This past year, a community theatre group performed a musical at the GNE, with logistics and behind-the-scenes support from Jim.

In 2014, Jim launched the Collingwood Street Piano Project, to provide free pianos for visitors and locals alike to sit down and play. Jim not only organizes the pianos, he supervises the painting, storage, delivery and on-going tuning and repairs of each one. The pianos are on the streets of downtown Collingwood now until the end of August.

A recognizable and highly-regarded pianist, Jim enjoys sharing his love of music with others. To help support the Collingwood Arts and Music Festival, Jim donates his equipment and sound expertise, provides entertainment, coordinates other performers, including youth and is the MC. Catherine Brown who nominated Jim wrote in her submission, “Collingwood has and will continue to benefit from his dedication and generous spirit. He has made a difference.”

Lory MacDonald - Adult Category

Lory MacDonald has been on a mission to inspire and encourage children to create, exhibit and celebrate art for over 22 years. Through the organization she founded called Magic of Children in the Arts, she has touched the lives of thousands of children. A gifted teacher, she encourages creativity in children in a way that is as much about the process as the finished product.

Lory founded Magic of Children in the Arts in 1994. With the help of parents, community support and volunteers, it has evolved into an annual event. The program provides free art workshops and in March and April, a giant show of the children’s artwork is proudly displayed to the community at the Collingwood Public Library. This year more than 1,000 children participated, and each child was awarded a prize of art supplies and personal words of encouragement. Ken Haigh who nominated Lory writes, “It is a huge undertaking, the largest program of its kind in Canada, and without Lory's guiding hand, it would not happen.”

Herself a skilled artist, Lory’s artwork is full of colour, energy and whimsy.  She trained at the Ontario College of Art and has exhibited across Ontario. Since 2009 Lory has produced four Ontario art festivals through Artfest Ontario. 

Bruce Mackison - Adult Category

Bruce Mackison has a knack for motivating volunteers and fostering community partnerships. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Collingwood District Historical Society and former Chair of the Collingwood Museum Advisory Committee. His leadership helped guide the Collingwood & District Historical Society to new heights in membership and marketing and establish new collaborations with the Collingwood Museum and the Collingwood & District Historical Society.

Bruce joined the Collingwood District and Historical Society in 2001 and took over the reins as President in 2007 until 2013. He is now serving as Past President. Under his leadership, the number of CDHS members increased dramatically. His ability to seize opportunities helped him attract interesting speakers to the monthly meetings. His energy and collaborative nature affirmed the CDHS as a key player in the recording and preservation of Collingwood’s history.

Bruce is a chief archivist for All Saints Anglican Church and also contributes his creative skills to their events and programs.

Bruce was a member of the Collingwood Museum Advisory Committee for 12 years and led their two-year process of completing and implementing a strategic plan that will continue to guide museum staff and the current advisory committee until 2017.

Frank McNulty - Adult Category

Frank McNulty works tirelessly to bring quality jazz and blues performers to Collingwood for Jazz and Blues at the Station. He raises awareness and appreciation for the genres of blues and jazz through educational programs for students in local elementary and high schools. Through interactive auditory and visual components, students from JK to Grade 12 are captivated by the presentations. Over 1000 students participated this year and for some it is their first exposure to a live a musical performance.  “Frank has been a wonderful leader in our community by bringing music to the public and into the schools,” explains Charlie Gudaitis in his letter of nomination.

Jazz and Blues at the Station is now its 10 year. The first concert in 2007 featured the Fig Leaf Jazz Band playing to an audience of 65 attendees. By the end of that summer, 500 people attended the series of six concerts. Fast forward to 2015, and a record crowd of over 500 fans enjoyed Chuck Jackson and the full 9 concert series was attended by 3100. Frank was presented with the Order of Collingwood in 2009.



Youth category: Brooke Girdwood
Organization/Group: Theatre Collingwood
Adult: Kevin Hamlin
From L-R: Mayor Sandra Cooper, Angela Girdwood (on behalf of her daughter Brooke),
Ruth Marie Bristow (grandmother to Brooke) andMC Mariane McLeod from 97.7 The Beach.
Photo courtesy of Dave West Photography.
Executive Director of Theatre Collingwood, Erica Angus, with Board members and staff
accept their award with Mayor Sandra Cooper, and MC Mariane McLeod from 97.7 The Beach.
Photo courtesy of Dave West Photography.
From L-R: Mayor Sandra Cooper, Kevin Hamlin, MC Mariane McLeod from 97.7 The Beach.
Photo courtesy of Dave West Photography.


2014 Youth Award Recipient Allison Gallagher with Mayor Sandra Cooper, Janet Fairbridge (left) and Margaret Adolphe. Photo: Dave West Photography

Allison Gallagher is an avid participant in the theatre program at Jean Vanier Catholic High School and in Collingwood community theatre. During the school year, Allison held a co-op position as a drama coach to 28 grade 10 students, sharing her skills, passion and love of performing arts.  In addition to her commitment and talent, Allison brings a rare and infectious energy and enthusiasm to rehearsals and performances. Allison played the lead role of Maria in Jean Vanier’s recent production of The Sound of Music. She contributed her time in helping backstage and with sound production.  Allison was a volunteer cast member of the Gaslight Community Theatre productions from 2010-2013.

2014 Adult Award Recipient Susan Connolly with Mayor Sandra Cooper, Janet Fairbridge and Margaret Adolphe. Photo: Dave West Photography
  Susan Connolly is a musician, composer, accompanist, music instructor, and volunteer in the Collingwood arts community. For 28 years she has shared her talent on violin, clarinet and bass with the community in local groups including Georgian Bay Symphony Orchestra, Sound Investment Choir and Georgian Sound Big Band. Susan is a founding member of the Georgian Triangle Music Teachers Association. She gives back to the community as an organizer and teacher for workshops and concerts at schools, churches, the Library and assisted living residences.  Susan participates in many community productions including First Christmas Story and A Little Night Music and fundraising events and benefit concerts. As a respected and highly regarded music teacher, Susan has been a resource and inspiration to hundreds of students. 

2014 Group/Organization Award Recipient Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts. Photo: Dave West Photography.
  The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts is a non-profit community organization with the mission to promote and encourage the arts.  Founded in 1975, the BMFA quickly attracted artists and art enthusiasts who formed volunteer committees for concerts, summer art programs, art exhibitions and performances. Some of these early initiatives were the starting point for existing organizations like Theatre Collingwood in 1984. Today the arts centre features monthly art shows with local and regional artists, and the BMFA continues to coordinate a range of artist entry opportunities and educational programs including the Juried Photo Show, Juried Art Show, Collingwood Arts & Music Festival, youth workshops and bus excursions. Through the Robert G. Kemp Arts Award the BMFA encourages arts projects that benefit the community and the Murray Clerkson Award supports local emerging artists.


2014 Nominees:

Group/Organization Category: 

The Collingwood Cinema Club first began in 1997 and quickly grew to one of the largest and most successful film clubs in Canada, posting the highest attendance of 11,552 viewers in 2013/2013. Mondays from September through May, the Cinema Club shows quality Canadian and International films that otherwise would not be available in the community. It showcases films from small Indies to grand epics, selected from among the world’s finest, award-winning films and offering an enriched and stimulating experience for Collingwood residents.  Through ticket sales and donations, the Cinema Club has donated over $200,000 to Hospice Georgian Triangle in the last ten years. In addition, the Club provides bursaries to aspiring student filmmakers at local secondary schools.
Theatre Collingwood is celebrating 30 years of providing live theatre in 2014. In the early years Theatre Collingwood was known for its large scale musicals. Then in 1998 Theatre Collingwood rose to equity status, earning a place among Ontario theatre circles as a producer featuring premiers by Canadian playwrights such as Dan Needles and Norm Foster. Today Theatre Collingwood collaborates with other regional theatre companies to bring an annual season of 5 professional plays and 44 performances to Collingwood. The company also offers a variety of drama programs for youth and in 2013 a production of The Little Prince was presented to schools and families. Theatre Collingwood works with local businesses to develop mutually beneficial partnerships and offers assistance to other cultural projects in the community.
Adult Individual Category:
Janet Allen is dedicated to fostering the arts and artists in Collingwood. Since 2005 she has volunteered for the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts as a Gallery volunteer, Visual Arts Chair, Juried Art Show Chair and most recently as Chair of the Board of Directors. Under her leadership, membership in the BMFA has increased, and a broad range of artists both local and regional have been brought to the community and showcased in the Arts Centre.  Janet’s skills and dedication contributed to the restructuring of the BMFA Board of Directors and a renewed sense of purpose and direction for the non-profit organization.  Janet has contributed countless volunteer hours through the multi-faceted efforts of the BMFA including fundraising, events, programs, exhibits and workshops.
Lindsay Lyall is the driving force behind the introduction and implementation of the Collingwood Trail Committee’s Feature on the Trails initiative. Lindsay’s volunteerism in working with Town staff, community organizations, businesses, and sponsors has resulted in a series of 13 interpretive signs beside the trails that highlight locations in the community of historical significance such as the rail yards, fish hatchery and Clyde Aircraft and locations highlighting natural heritage including the Wetlands, Birds, and Fish/Water. Lindsay is Vice-Chair of the Collingwood Trails Committee and also serves as President of a local Probus club and a member of the Collingwood & District Historical Society. More interpretive signs are planned. These stories and images enhance the trails and serve as a permanent reminder of Collingwood’s historical and natural heritage.
Kristin Nunes is the founder of Aerial Silks Collingwood. With 30 years of gymnastics, 20 years of coaching experience and training at a circus school in Toronto, Kristin offers classes in this increasingly popular form of circus art which has performers showcasing various fluids movements, twists and poses while suspended on “silks”.  One of Kristin’s priorities is to engage youth in creative expression through movement by offering youth classes, student shows and demonstrations.  In 2012 she formed a performance group called the Vertical Belles comprised of some of her most advanced students.  They have performed at numerous charitable and public events in the community.  Kristin seeks out collaborative opportunities to share her passion for aerial arts and provide a unique experience for audiences and her students.
Brian Rae is an accomplished musician and music director, contributing his time and expertise to the musical community in Collingwood. In his current role leading the new chamber choir ChoralWorks, Brian donates his time playing the piano and teaching. Each week Brian coordinates rehearsals, sets practice agendas and suggests learning tools. He auditions new members, arranges programs and coordinates concerts. Brian is the former music director of the Sound Investment Community Choir and in 2013 was instrumental in bringing internationally known, Michael Burgess to Collingwood for a benefit concert.  As former Director of Choral Music at St. Michael’s Choir School and an organist for 40 years at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Brian is dedicated to bringing the audiences of Collingwood, the finest in choral music.
Andrea Rinaldo is the catalyst for two new and refreshing arts events in Collingwood, the Collingwood Art Crawl and the Art Battle, both resounding successes. The first art crawl held last year, featured eight downtown locations, the second art crawl, to be held September 27, will feature a self guided art tour of 22 locations.  Last May Andrea brought the Art Battle to Collingwood. Over 200 people witnessed this live competitive painting event.  Since opening her most recent business Studio 65 last November, Andrea continues to offer entry events to community artists, supply space for events and champion local artists. Andrea is an accomplished and well respected artist herself with boundless creativity. Her works are colourful, contemporary one of a kind masterpieces with works selling across North America.



Anke speaks after accepting her Award

2013 Adult Award Recipient Anke Lex with event Chair Margaret Adophe and presentor Councillor Dale West


Anke Lex (2013 Award Recipient) embodies the vision that a community’s vibrancy is closely related to the vitality of its cultural engagement, expression and celebration. She is a managing partner of Tremont Properties transforming the former hotel and 65 Simcoe Street into a space to support and encourage artistic and learning opportunities including theatre, dance, music, visual arts and graphic design. In addition, Anke is a skilled and prolific potter of Majolica work, creating unique pieces, as evident in her most recent show “Sensual Summer” at 65 Simcoe Street, and an active volunteer in events like Day of Delight.

Anne Marie with event Chair Margaret Adophe and presentor Councillor West
2013 Youth Award Recipient Anne Marie Marsden with event Chair Margaret Adophe and presentor Councillor Dale West


Anne Marie Marsden (2013 Award Recipient) is a vocal soloist, pianist, French horn player and drummer, achieving exceptional marks in her Royal Conservatory music exams while performing in productions with the First Presbyterian Church, the Clearview Community Theatre and Collingwood Collegiate as well as the CCI concert band and jazz band. Anne Marie thrills audiences with her vocal ability and stage presence. A recent graduate of grade 12 with honours, Anne Marie has chosen to stay on another year to further develop her talents and to participate musically in Collingwood and the surrounding area.

 All 2013 Nominees:

Youth Category (18 and Under):

Victoria Bonney, Maddie Guardhouse and Brittany Stevens, organizers of the Collingwood Public Library’s Teen Open “Mic” night. These 3 young women have been hugely successful at creating a monthly venue for their peers to perform and explore their love of music and the arts. What stands out about Victoria, Brittany and Maddie is their commitment to volunteerism, not only in coordinating all aspects of the open “mic” events but helping tutor seniors on computers, assisting elementary teachers in their classrooms, and volunteering at MusicFest.

Ryan Sobkovich entered the Bay School of Art at the age of 12 and has developed tremendous passion and skill as an impressionist landscape painter. Ryan specializes in shoreline scenes of Georgian Bay and his work can be seen at the Loft Gallery in Thornbury and Edge Gallery in Barrie. Ryan was a finalist for the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts Murray Clerkson Award and a winner in the 2011 Juried Art Show. Ryan is currently studying Fine Arts at Georgian College in Barrie and involved in showcases in the area.

Adult Category:

Grenville Bray is dedicated to fostering a love of live theatre to youth in the community. He has been the director of Clearview Community Theatre since 1996, encouraging youth and adults alike to find their voice and confidence in theatre. For 13 years, Grenville applied his artistic talents to create lighting effects for the First Presbyterian Churches productions and directed the First Easter Story in 2011 & 2012. As a singer and actor himself, Grenville has a travelling troupe that performs at local nursing homes, bringing the joy of theatre to everyone.

John Haines established the popular Workshop Performance series at the Collingwood Public Library more than a decade ago. The series provides a free venue for professional and emerging talent to share their passion for music and performance to the community and beyond. A widely recognized and respected professional musician and artist, John fosters collaborations and camaraderie among artists, and thrives in mentoring new artists in developing their talent.

Arlene Noble is producer of the highly successful Gaslight Tour, an annual production of a series of short plays in historic locations in Collingwood. Now in its 4th year, Arlene oversees hundreds of volunteers in all aspects of the production including actors, guides, stage managers and playwrights and much more. The funds from the Gaslight Tour support Arlene’s mission to encourage youth participation in community theatre through the annual community festival, Day of Delight.



Awards Ceremony  

Councillor Dale West presents the 2012 Youth Award to musician Aidan Funston. Also pictured is fellow Nominee, artist Ryan Sobkovitch.

Awards Ceremony   Recipient of the 2012 Adult Award Barbara Sharp, pictured with fellow Nominees (left to right), Jennifer Macnaughton, Terese Connolly & Michelle Fleming. Not able to attend was Lindsay Lyall.



Awards Ceremony  

2011 Adult Award Recipient Sharron William Fleet receiving the award from Mayor Sandra Cooper (right) with Margaret Adolphe (left)