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Arty Awards Preview

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The 13th annual Arty Awards will be held on Saturday, September 30, at the Reach Gallery Museum. The awards aim to celebrate artists, and art-supporting community members, throughout the Fraser Valley.

Harry Doupe, this year’s Arty Awards coordinator, spoke to The Cascade about the changes the Arty Awards have gone through lately.

“This year, the categories changed to better reflect the community, and to cover a wider representation of the Abbotsford arts community. The awards generally cover an incredibly wide variety of genres and crafts,” said Doupe.

A cursory look at the Arty Awards nomination categories online would yield a list of Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Literary Arts, and Arts Advocate awards as well as a Lifetime Achievement award. Doupe said the categories were drawn up to include as many artists as possible.

“The awards generally cover an incredibly wide variety of genres and craft,” Doupe explained.

This year, however, has seen an increase in nominees for two categories in particular, Emerging Artist and Performing Arts, which is in keeping with Abbotsford’s tradition of musical and visual arts talent.

Doupe noted that anyone can nominate themselves, but the bulk of nominations came as a surprise to many finalists.

“In a great many cases, people don’t know they’ve been nominated by someone. We had a nominee celebration a couple of weeks ago, and the big question was Who nominated me? Anyone that thinks someone is worthy of further recognition can nominate someone.”

The surge in nominations came hand in hand with a push on the organization’s side for experienced, impartial jurors.

“[We wanted to cut down] on the amount of people who already go in with preconceived notions because they may already know people in the category,” said Doupe.

Expertise, said Doupe, was equally as important a factor as impartiality in choosing this year’s jurors.

“[We] wanted to open it up to get the best people possible to choose who the nominees are in each category. People who in each situation have a great amount of acclaim, and are the best … and to be looking at the work that the people in the Valley are doing.”

In addition to the role they play in helping to build a connected community of artists within the Fraser Valley, the Arty Awards serve as a springboard for artists. Doupe said visibility is one of the most apparent benefits afforded to the nominees.

“It opens up their art to a much wider range of viewers,” said Doupe.

“Again, for those that are in the Abbotsford Arts Council, or run the Kariton Art Gallery, the amount of people they are unaware of who are in these categories is a great eye-opener. There are so many people they’ve never heard of who are doing so much great work in the community.”

As for the artists themselves, Doupe said that increasing awareness can be a particularly encouraging force.

“The amount of awareness that the nominees garner out of their nominations … is a big push to them. Many have never had anyone look at their art, and now all of a sudden here’s this much wider path of visibility [available to them].”

However, the Arty Awards don’t focus solely on the creative side of art in the Valley. The Arts Advocate award aims to celebrate community members who champion the arts through organizational and advocacy roles.

“You don’t have to be the top creative person in whatever regard either, somebody who helps out a lot, there’s a place for them to be honoured for their commitment to the arts community.”

This, said Doupe, should encourage any community members invested in the arts to attend the Arty Awards when they are held at The Reach Gallery Museum on Saturday, September 30.

“Anyone in the arts should attend the awards to see the wide variety of stuff that’s there. Maybe you’re a better fit for the arts community than you think you are.”

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