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ACWB’s Arts Awards Return Virtually this October

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Following the runaway success of last year’s virtual Excellence in Arts Awards aka the Buffys, Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is ready to host this year’s Awards virtually on October 16, 2021. The free event, which has a Midnight in Technicolor theme, will be relayed on Facebook, YouTube and Shaw Spotlight at 7:30 p.m.

“The awards broadcast was so successful in 2020, we wanted to build on that momentum. We were able to reach 14,000 unique viewers, which is a significantly further reach than would be typical of an in-person event. The exposure that artists gain from a virtual, cinematic broadcast is much greater, and it also allows for creative opportunities through story-telling, videography, and performances,” explains Will Collins, Communications Manager, ACWB.

This year 100 artists were nominated, and 36 have been shortlisted in 14 categories ranging from Literary Arts to Indigenous Arts, Visual Arts and more. In addition, the Buffys showcase will feature an exciting storyline based on a fundamental part of cinematic history - Technicolor.

Local Indigenous artist Amy Keller-Rempp is nominated for the Indigenous Art Award, and feels the Buffys are important on so many levels.

“The Buffys showcase so many wonderfully talented people in the area. This is inspiring, encouraging, and rewarding to so many artists on our own creative journeys. Whether we are just beginning, are up and coming, professional or just enjoying, no matter where we are in our journey it’s always a pleasure to support, cheer on and celebrate all artists! I love that we get to share this experience with all of our community,” she notes.

Jane Jacques, Managing Editor for NorthWord, the local literary journal shares on behalf of the nominated group.

“I'm delighted that NorthWord was shortlisted for a Buffy in the category of Literary Arts. Our magazine has been publishing since 2009, and we're now up to Issue 24. It's an honour for us to be recognized for the work we've done over the past 12 years. In a sense, every writer and artist who has ever appeared in NorthWord is being celebrated by this nomination, since the magazine continues to exist because of our contributors. The Buffys are an important part of the arts scene in Wood Buffalo, encouraging the creativity that is the lifeblood of the community.”

Local resin artist, Ambreen Ehtisham, who created last year’s well-received Awards, is nominated in the Visual Arts category. She comments:

“I am so humbled to be recognized as one of the nominees this year. It is a great confidence booster, has motivated me and makes me feel good about my work. The Arts Awards play a big role in helping local artists gain more visibility in the arts community and industry, it helps validate and promote our work, build an artist’s reputation and differentiate our work from others. These Awards build awareness of the incredible contributions artists make to Wood Buffalo and Fort McMurray and I feel honoured and blessed to be part of the local arts community.”

Well-known photographer Greg Halinda is also nominated in the Visual Arts category. He has been a working photographer since 1995 when he moved to Fort McMurray.

“Being nominated for a Buffy makes me feel more connected to the artistic community in Wood Buffalo. Artists often work alone, and don’t always get the chance to gather and celebrate each other’s work. The Awards not only help us celebrate each other’s talents and contributions, they also show residents that a diverse pool of creators is woven into their own community, and that art brings cultural richness and is a worthwhile pursuit.”

Collins notes, this year, the Awards Selection Committee consisted of creative professionals from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Rosza Foundation, the U of A Faculty of Education, working artists, and local business community members. A perennial favourite is the surprise recipient for the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Arts Champion Award selected by ACWB’s Board of Directors also announced during the broadcast. This year’s awards are created by The Saltwater Potter, Michelle Ploughman.

“Being nominated for or receiving an award is something that artists can use in applications for future paid work opportunities and applications to school. Recognition from peers is something Canada Council for the Arts and other arts organizations and funders use to determine an artist’s standing as a professional. We’d like to thank all those who nominated, self-applied, worked on the creative team, and sponsored Buffys 2021. We couldn’t put this showcase together without the help and support of the community.”

Register for the Buffys through Eventbrite:


Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.