By Lethbridge Herald on September 23, 2023.
The Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge hosted its annual Mayor’s Luncheon for business and the arts Wednesday to celebrate members of the community involved with arts.
Mayor Blaine Hyggen said to those in attendance that the city fortunate to have a thriving art scene that reflects the diversity, creativity and spirit of our people.
“Art has incredible power to transcend boundaries, connect communities, and inspire change. It ignites our imagination, stirs our emotions and challenges our perspectives,” said Hyggen.
He said whether it is a mesmerizing painting, a moving musical performance, a thought-provoking play, or a captivating dance, arts provide a mirror for our souls and a voice to our shared humanity.
“The City of Lethbridge has an unwavering support for the arts, and we want to make sure that our city remains a beacon of cultural expression. We recognize that art isn’t just a luxury, it’s essential part of our identity and a catalyst for progress,” said Hyggen.
He said that during the first council meeting after their summer break, members spoke about how many events involving the arts took place over the summer and the importance of continuing to support the arts community.
Among those celebrated Wednesday was Fran Rude, who won the Joan Waterfield Memorial Award. This award is given each year to someone who are recognized by their contemporaries for advancing and enhancing the arts in Lethbridge.
President of the AAC Board of directors, Ian Zadeiks who was the master of ceremonies for the event, said Rude won the award by a landslide, noting she directed Waterfield and acted for Waterfield.
“Fran has been an absolute absolute pillar of the theatre community. Her contributions have extended more than 60 years,” said Zadeiks.
Rude was nominated for the Joan Waterfield Memorial Award by her friend Ken Rogers, who told the Herald that after all her records from her theatre endeavours were lost in a flood, he had to get creative to gather the information to be submitted with his nomination.
He said he phoned a few of his friends who have been in theatre forever and got a lot of information from them. He used George Mann’s theatre history book but even though he gathered a lot of information, there were a few holes to be filled.
“Fran and I go for coffee or breakfast at the Lethbridge Senior Centre every two or three weeks, so it took two sessions, two breakfasts, to turn my phone on under the table and try and very obliquely quiz her to fill in these holes,” said Rogers.
He said there is nobody who could hold a candle to the level of involvement and leadership Rude has displayed over the years in the theatre scene and therefore she deserved the recognition.
Rude has been involved in 79 shows, directed 55 of them, and 28 fundraisers that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local community organizations. She has been involved on both sides of the stage and has been beloved by casts.
Joan Waterfield Memorial Award winners receive a portrait created by a local artist, and Rude’s was created by Isabel Robertson.
Rude spoke to the Herald and said she was honoured to receive the award and her portrait will have a place of prominence in her condo, and said she is only getting the ward because of the faith people put in her ideas and there were many behind her.
“There are tons of people who are responsible for me being here. I’m just the idea person, if they don’t take a leap of faith with me, and over the years I’m talking about casts, and crews, and designers and choreographers and all the people who work so hard backstage. It’s just amazing the number of people that I’ve got to work with over the years, just so skilled and if it weren’t for them, I would not be here,” said Rude.
She said she has been directing steadily since 1981 but this year will mark her last major production.
“I have a show opening in opening in November at the Yates.’The Secret Garden’ is just a gorgeous show. I hope people come and see it because this will be my last major production I’ll be officially retired after this,” said Rude.
The Secret Garden will run from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 at the Yates Memorial Theatre.
Other winners included Camille Eudes who was honoured with the Young Artist Award. She is studying Studio Arts at the University of Lethbridge “and is looking forward to advancing her artistic career in Lethbridge. She has volunteered extensively in the francophone community and worked with children while advocating for their increased exposure to artistic endeavours.
She works in both clay and fabric,” says the AAC
Connie Blackburn was named the AACE Individual Award winner which is given “to a person who has made philanthropic contributions to an organization and thereby enhanced the entire arts community.
The AAC says Blackburn “has dedicated over a decade of time to Troyanda Ukrainian Dance as both a member and on its executive board as secretary. Her commitment to the organization contributes to Troyanda’s enduring presence in our community.
‘Connie’s dedication to dance, the arts and Ukrainian culture is more important than ever. She has ensured that Troyanda has continued to reach out to the community and continued to raise the organization’s profile.”
The Aspiring Artist Award went to Lev Zienchuk who the AAC says “is a multidisciplinary artist who is a talented pianist and origami artist. Lev is starting his Grade 11 studies. After spending much of his younger years living overseas, he returned to Lethbridge with his family in 2020. He has continued his piano studies and has also been in several art exhibitions featuring his origami sculpture.
Playgoers won the AACE Service Organization Award that “recognizes a club, service organization or non-for-profit group that has contributed to the Lethbridge community through the arts,” says the AAC.
Playgoers “is celebrating its 100th year and is the oldest operating amateur theatre company in Canada. Playgoers has provided thousands of Lethbridgeians the opportunity to explore their artistic side through opportunities to act, direct4, stage manage or to produce,” says the AAC. It has also entertained generations of city residents, adds the organization.