Awards honour the arts community's finest

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | May 02, 2014 - 2:31 PM |
 Playwright and author Matthew Heiti and artist Heather Topp were the big winners at the inaugural Mayor's Celebration of the Arts May 1. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Playwright and author Matthew Heiti and artist Heather Topp were the big winners at the inaugural Mayor's Celebration of the Arts May 1. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Heather Topp, Matthew Heiti take inaugural Mayor's arts awards

Ever modest, artist Heather Topp said it felt a bit “bizarre” to be presented with the CN Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Arts on May 1 at the inaugural Mayor's Celebration of the Arts.

The event put the spotlight on the city's growing professional arts and culture sector.

“It was excellent to be nominated,” Topp said. “But there's so many other people out there, I don't know how they got around to my name.”

Other finalists for the award included musician and producer Daniel Bédard, composer Robert Lemay and musician and actor Stéphane Paquette. They were shortlisted by a group of judges from the city's arts community.

Topp is a multimedia artist and the owner of Studio 276 Cedar. For more than 20 years, she has hosted the Tour of the Fringe Art Exhibit.

Her works have been exhibited at Science North, Laurentian University, the Art Gallery of Sudbury and the Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario.

Topp is also a long-time volunteer at Northern Lights Festival Boréal. She established the festival's artists' village, and fought for the artists to be paid. Her contributions to Boréal were honoured with the Jackie Washington Award in 1993.

“She's got her finger in everything and has for many years,” said Sudbury Arts Council president and event organizer Vicki Gilhula.

The only other award handed out at the celebration — the Sudbury Arts Council Award for Outstanding Emerging Artist — was presented to novelist, playwright, dramaturge, actor and director Matthew Heiti.

Other finalists in the category included poet, writer and actor Daniel Aubin, cellist Alexandra Lee and dancer and choreographer Lauren Foy.

Heiti said he was proud to be included in this group.

“Daniel and I have performed together so many times,” he said. “I went to high school with Lauren. We were in lots of plays over at Sudbury Sec, and I've seen Alexandra perform.

“It could have been any one of us or really any one of probably 20 or 30 other artists in this community right now. We're an emerging community of arts.”

Heiti's novel, “The City Still Breathing,” was published in 2013. He's the playwright-in-residence at Sudbury Theatre Centre, where his plays, “Mucking in the Drift” and “Black Dog: 4 vs the World,” were produced during the 2013-2014 season.

He is also the associate playwright for Pat the Dog Theatre, which facilitates Play Smelter workshops and staged readings of local new dramas.

In the past, talented young artists used to leave the city and didn't come back, Gilhula said. “Matthew and all of those in that category represent those who are of the future and made this a better community,” she said.

Although Mayor Marianne Matichuk wasn't involved in organizing the event, she said she was thrilled to lend her name to the gala, adding that the arts “enrich the fabric” of the city.

“We know Greater Sudbury's arts and culture community has made tremendous strides in the past few years, and is a growth engine in our city, attracting not only business but tourism and residents to our city,” she said.
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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