Published on March 3, 2022

The 11th Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts: An Arts Award Saga

The planning for the 11th Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts (MCOA) started just under two and a half years ago. Way back in March of 2020, the nominations had come in, the jury had deliberated, and the formal evening of celebration was just days away. And then COVID-19 swooped in uninvited. Everything, as we all recall, came to a crushing halt.  

“There was just a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what was happening in the world,” says Tamsin Brooks, the City’s Community Cultural Coordinator and event organizer for MCOA, reflecting back on the early days of the pandemic. “We had this event planned. It was planned down to the last detail at that point. Then one day we were having it and the next day we weren't.” 

But new hope has arrived in the art and events world, along with the anticipation of the spring thaw. The 11th edition of MCOA has a fresh date and plans are once again in motion. Among the most patient of the recipients is artist and community builder, Carol Watamaniuk, who will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award this year. She was selected in early 2020 and the announcement of the honour was released prior to the shutdowns.  

Watamaniuk’s achievements will cap off the night, but to kick off the night will be a variety of entertainment, the likes of which most of us haven’t seen in over two years. First up will be 2019 MCOA youth artist award recipient and rising country music star, Hailey Benedict. Benedict is currently nominated for a multitude of Country Music Alberta Awards; including, Horizon Female Artist of the Year and her latest single, “Wanted You To” broke the top 50 on the Canadian Country Billboard chart. 

Photo of Hailey Benedict holding a guitar.

Following Benedict will be a veritable parade by The Brasstactics, a fun and funky New Orleans’s style brass band with connections to St. Albert. This lively ensemble will then give the stage over to hosts, St. Albert Children's Theatre Alumni Carmen Leibel and Paul Woida. The final performance will be given to Rhythm Motives. Founded by St. Albert dancer Paige Tirs, who won the MCOA emerging artist award in 2011, Rhythm Motives is a fiery tap company that practices out of St. Albert’s DanceCo studios.  

Photo of a tap dancer with their foot kicked high in the air.

With awards in six categories, including, excellence in arts teaching, arts champion, youth artist, emerging artist, established artist and the aforementioned lifetime achievement award, the evening will be replete with commendable artists of all ages and skill levels. A complete list of nominees can be found on the MCOA website. 

New this year will be contributions from local visual art organizations, including the Art Gallery of St. Albert, the St. Albert Photography Club, the Visual Art Studio Association of St. Albert and the St. Albert Place Visual Art Council. Guests will be able to enjoy the exhibition as they mix and mingle before the awards start. Additionally, the work will be available for sale in a ‘credit card and carry’ format. 

Between the art work on display, the performances, and the nominees, the evening will be chockfull of St. Albert talent.   

“I'm excited to finally be able to recognize the great work that is happening and has happened in our community before and during COVID,” says Brooks. “These artists just haven't been sitting on the sidelines. They have been doing good things in the two and a half years since we had to cancel and it'll be a really good opportunity to see them in person and celebrate how the arts truly brings people together.” 

The 11th Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards will take place Thursday, April 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the City Arts Space (125 Carleton Drive).


Last edited: April 19, 2022