Winnipeg Arts Council

2021 - the year in review

What a year it has been for Winnipeg’s artist and arts organizations. In the face of constant challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the city’s creative community never ceased to inspire and entertain us. The arts truly are a fundamental part of the civic fabric, and this has been made even more evident throughout the pandemic. Despite the ups and downs of lockdowns and cancellations, Winnipeg’s artists and arts organizations reacted and responded to every challenge thrown their way and the Winnipeg Arts Council was proud to support their work all year long.

The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra records a virtual concert at the West End Cultural Centre. Photo by Vicki Young.2021 began in lockdown with most artistic offerings presented virtually. Regardless of whether they were originally envisioned as online presentations, artists and audiences were left with no choice but to experience the arts on screens. As the summer approached and limited gatherings became possible once again Winnipeggers were able to do things like attend a drive-in Winnipeg International Children’s Festival, a parking lot performance by Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, or Winnipeg Jewish Theatre-in-a-tent. As fall approached we were able to attend in-person events at places like Prairie Theatre Exchange and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Live music and dance returned in earnest in the fall as theatres and galleries were permitted open, and the city was able to close out the year with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker. She was sorely missed in 2020, but Clara finally returned to Winnipeg bringing hope for the coming year.

In addition to supporting these activities and hundreds of others, the Winnipeg Arts Council worked with Poet Laureate Duncan Mercredi as he continued writing, teaching and presenting through the year documenting the City in all its incarnations. In November he reassembled the Indigenous Writers Collective for the first time in 7 years and in December published 215, a new book of poems on the theme of Residential Schools. It is available at McNally Robinson and from the Winnipeg Arts Council website.

After a hiatus in 2020, WAC revived the Winnipeg Arts Council Awards to celebrate members of the city’s arts community and their contribution to the cultural fabric of Winnipeg. The artists honoured this year included writer Tasha Spillett, visual artist Divya Mehra, and pioneering film & television producer Lisa Meeches. Also recognized were landscape architect Heather Cram for her contributions to public art in Winnipeg and arts champion Dr. Douglas McEwan, who has donated and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to Winnipeg arts organizations throughout his career.

This past year has been one like no other in recent memory, and the Winnipeg Arts Council is extremely proud to have supported all of these activities and events plus so many more. Winnipeg is fortunate to be home to some of the finest artists in the world, and throughout 2021 they have done our city a tremendous service. The arts not only provide us with entertainment and escape, they hold a mirror to society and reflect who we really are. We are not out of the woods yet, but we firmly believe that the arts will help get us there.

Above image: The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra records a virtual concert at the West End Cultural Centre. Photo by Vicki Young.

Homepage image: Emilie Lewis in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's "Visions of Swan Lake" virtual production. Photo by Daniel Crump.