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  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Announcement of the 2011 Laureates of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards

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Toronto, Thursday, March 3, 2011


I would like to welcome all of you to the announcement of the laureates of the 2011 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. This year’s list of winners covers a wide range of those who work in front of the camera, behind the scenes, or on stage to create lasting memories for Canadians.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales once wrote: “Without dance, without music, without words and ideas, a country cannot have a soul, or a dream.”

By virtue of their skill, these laureates have contributed to Canada’s soul, helping to characterize our artistic landscape and defining Canada to the world. Their dedication to their craft has propelled them to the very pinnacle of their profession, and it is for this reason that we celebrate their accomplishments with the presentation of Lifetime Artistic Achievement awards and the National Arts Centre Award.

Artists and performers also share a special bond with one of my pillars as governor general, that of encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism. It is no accident that most of the award winners—past and present—have lent their support to charities and causes dear to them. Their broad exposure acts as a catalyst for others to volunteer and to help us create the smart and caring nation we know Canada to be.

For this, we owe artists a debt of gratitude.

The performing arts also rely on volunteers in so many other ways. Smaller productions and concerts are showcased because of dedication, vision and creativity, and sometimes very little else. These are the venues that give a glimpse into the future of film, television, music and theatre; this is where stars are born.

These awards were created in 1992 under the auspices of the late Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, who also recognized the importance of volunteers. This is why, each year, we also present one deserving individual with the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts.

Of course, there is more than one way to give back.

For example, having an experienced artist paired with a young protégé, allows artistic skills to be passed from one generation to the next. This is what the mentorship program offers, the participants of which are also announced today in conjunction with the Performing Arts Awards. It is one way that we are supporting the future of this country’s identity.

This is a fitting venue for this announcement, as Glenn Gould was a strong proponent of the arts. Recently at Rideau Hall, we had the honour of hosting several young artists for a tribute concert to Glenn Gould. Their talent and enthusiasm define them as the next generation of Canadian performing artists, but they cannot achieve this success without the dedication and tutelage of mentors.

These, and others like them, are the artists who may very well be honoured with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards in the future.

The award ceremony, to be held at Rideau Hall on May 13, 2011, will be my very first presentation of these awards as governor general. I am proud to support the performing arts in this way and so pleased that I will be joined by these great Canadians.

The gala, to be held the following night on May 14, highlights the long-standing collaboration between the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Foundation, the National Arts Centre, the National Film Board and our other partners. It is because of this co-operation that we are able to honour these laureates.

As we march towards a milestone anniversary next year—the 20th annual awards ceremony—I know that there will be many opportunities to recognize the contributions of artists and the performing arts to our society.

I would like to congratulate all of the 2011 laureates of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. I look forward to welcoming each of you to Rideau Hall to honour a career of wonderful memories.

Thank you.