Image: Toronto Arts Foundation award winners and nominees from left to right, Joseph Sagaj (Indigenous Artist Award nominee), Greg Staats (Indigenous Artist Award winner), Naty Tremblay (Community Arts Award winner), Claire Hopkinson (Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council), Catherine Tammaro (Indigenous Program Manager, Toronto Arts Council), Cynthia Lickers-Sage (Indigenous Artist Award nominee) and Ruben Esguerra (Community Arts Award nominee).
Toronto Arts Foundation honours Xpace co-founder, Naty Tremblay
OCAD University graduate Naty Tremblay, who co-founded Xpace Cultural Centre, an artist-run centre supported by the OCAD Student Union (OCAD SU), has been named the recipient of Toronto Arts Foundation’s Community Arts Award.
The prestigious honour, which celebrates an artist who has made significant contributions in Toronto by working with, in and for communities, comes with a $10,000 prize. Tremblay received their award at the Toronto Arts Foundation’s first in-person gala since the pandemic began, held at the Liberty Grand Ballroom on October 27, 2021.
Tremblay moved from southwestern Ontario to Toronto in 2000, to seek out radical queer activism and to study in the Integrated Media (INTM) program at OCAD U. They were active in the OCAD SU, which led to their involvement in the founding of Xpace in 2004.
Since then, Xpace has supported the work of hundreds of emerging artists, curators and writers. Tremblay graduated in 2006, receiving the Meloche Monnex Award for Community Involvement and the INTM Award for Achievement in Film and Video.
The inaugural Indigenous Art Award was also presented that evening. Cynthia Lickers-Sage, who received a diploma in New Media from OCAD University (when it was the OCA) in 1993, was nominated for the award. Lickers-Sage is a Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan visual artist from Six Nations of the Grand River. Following her graduation, she co-founded The Centre for Aboriginal Media, imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival and Tkaronto Music Festival.
Earlier this year, TAF held the annual Mayor’s Arts Lunch where the Arts for Youth Award was announced and Xpace Cultural Centre was nominated. The lunch was hosted by CBC critic and broadcaster Jesse Wente with remarks from Mayor John Tory and Claire Hopkinson, Director and CEO of the Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation.
Annually, the Foundation commissions the creation of an original artwork that is presented to award recipients at the Mayor’s Arts Lunch. This year, Esmaa Mahmoud, a Toronto-based African Canadian artist who graduated from OCAD University in 2016 with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design, was selected to create a unique art piece, which was presented to each award winner at the event.
Congratulations to all those who were nominated and honoured by the Toronto Arts Foundation this year!