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Lights, camera, livestream!

Work presented by Queen’s University’s Festival of Live and Digital Art recognized as one of top 10 moments in Canadian Theatre for 2020.

During a time when theatres went dark and the performing arts community had to introduce new ways to showcase their talents, a program at Queen’s University pushed forward by moving its unique Festival of Live and Digital Art (FOLDA) online.  

As a result, the Globe and Mail has named a production at FOLDA as a top-10 moment in 2020 Canadian Theatre. Included on that list were the National Ballet of Canada and the Toronto production of Hamilton. 

In its third year, FOLDA is an annual festival held in Kingston in June that exists with the support of The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, The Dan School of Drama and Music, and The Department of Film and Media. Due to the pandemic, it was presented this year in an entirely digital format.  

This year, Miwa Matreyek, a designer, director and performer from Los Angeles, presented three livestreamed works, including Infinitely Yours where her silhouette interacts with animations. It was included in the Globe and Mail’s top 10. 

“Iterative development has been at the core of the curatorial approach to FOLDA,” says Michael Wheeler, assistant professor, Dan School of Drama and Music. “Around a third of the pieces at FOLDA are finished works like Infinitely Yours. Many other works are works in progress as creators experiment with concepts and gain feedback from audiences. It was for this reason we were also excited to see The Chop Theatre's Pathetic Fallacy on the same Globe and Mail list. This show was developed in an iterative creation process at festivals around the world, including two years at FOLDA, before finding a completely digital presentation form working with Rumble Theatre in 2020." 

SpiderWebShow established FOLDA at The Isabel in 2018 with a goal of creating an annual festival for audiences and artists to examine how digital technologies are transforming life performance. Wheeler is also the co-creator and director of artistic research of SpiderWebShowthe first and only nationally-driven performing arts website of its kind in Canada. 

“The inclusion of Miwa Matrayek's work at FOLDA on this list of notable theatre productions emphasizes the shifting nature of the medium that SpiderWebShow has been dedicated to considering,” says Wheeler. “We are thrilled for Miwa and hope it will encourage new audiences to join us each June in an exploration of what live performance can be." 

Read more about FOLDA in the Globe and Mail. 

Armand Ruffo wins Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize

Armand Ruffo
Armand Ruffo

Armand Ruffo, Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Literature and professor in the Department of English, is this year’s winner of the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, it was announced on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

The $25,000 prize is awarded to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry.

“To receive this award from my peers who in their own right are highly respected poets is truly an honour,” Ruffo says. “Above all it is further validation of my artistic practice and it tells me to keep at it. By nature of the work writers tend to fall into periods of silence and I think of this award as a hammer to help me break through those periods.”

An Anishinaabe scholar, filmmaker, writer, and poet, Ruffo has received numerous awards over his career and has twice been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards – 2019 for his poetry collection Treaty # and in 2015 for his book Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird.

Ruffo has also written three plays and has written, directed and produced a short film and a feature film.

Listen to his interview for Latner’s Writers’ Trust with Kaie Kellough, one of the prize jurors.

Leveraging creative potential during a pandemic

Queen’s University researchers respond to a critical need with unique music program Rise, ShineSing!

The Accessible and Inclusive Music Theatre project, led by Queen’s researchers Julia Brook and Colleen Renihan, is embarking on its second year of investigating how participation in an accessible online music and movement program can improve well-being and foster creativity, particularly among older adults.  

The first year of the program Rise, ShineSing! included three weeks of in-person sessions at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts which saw sessions of 50 people in the rehearsal hall, singing and moving together, followed by 12 weeks of online sessions over Zoom. 

We came together as a team to consider what a collaborative approach to these wicked problems of ageism in music theatre, loneliness, and a lack of understanding about the creative potential of people throughout the lifespan could yield,” says Dr. Renihan, whose research investigates issues of voice, cultural memory, and empathy in opera and music theatre. 

After moving online due to the pandemic, Drs. Brook and Renihan decided to continue the program, based on its early success. 

We determined this program filled a significant need in the community,” says Dr. BrookWe are both community-minded musicians and scholars, wanting to work and make beautiful change in our local community here in Kingston. We believe in the flexibility that music theatre offers with its combination of music, story, and movement. We believe that one can thrive and be creative across the lifespan. 

Dr. Renihan adds for the second year of the program they are aiming to share their findings through publication, public presentations, and through the formation of a national network of researchers and creators with similar goalsThey are also interested in the effects of participation in this kind of creative work on well-being. Finally, with the pandemic, they are investigating the surprising gains of engaging in performance and creation over Zoom. 

The second year of the program includes participants from outside of Kingston, including some people from long-term care homes, recognizing the need in this community for interaction, connection, and artistic stimulation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During each weekly session, participants engage in a series of vocal and movement warm-ups, and sing and dance to a repertoire of folk, musical theatre, and popular hits. 

“Our project aims to find ways to help people of all ages and abilities to leverage their creative and artistic potentials in a digital space,” says Dr. Brook, whose research area focused on music education. 

This research project is currently recruiting participants of all ages and abilities: No previous singing or dancing experience is required, and no digital savvy beyond clicking the Zoom link is needed. 

To find out more, sign up for a weekly newsletter and get the Zoom link to participate by visiting the project’s website at www.riseshinesing.ca. 

The Accessible and Inclusive Music Theatre Project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University. 

Putting a stamp on the season

Queen’s University professor Gauvin Alexander Bailey consulted on this year’s Christmas stamp for the United States Postal Service.

Over Christmas, millions of letters and packages are delivered all over the world, affixed with special stamps for the season. But how are the images for the stamps selected? 

Queen’s University art expert Gauvin Alexander Bailey acted as a consultant for the selection of artwork for this year’s United States Post Service (USPS) Christmas stamp. This year’s version of the stamp features a detail of Our Lady of Guápulo. Painted by an unknown artist, likely an Amerindian working in Cuzco, Peru, the 18th-century oil painting depicts the Virgin Mary looking down at a richly dressed Christ Child. 

As an acknowledgment of the importance of Latinx culture in the United States, the USPS wanted a Christmas image that reflected this community and the rich cultural heritage of Spanish America in general. They contacted Dr. Bailey (Art History and Art Conservation) who is an expert in Southern European and Latin American Baroque Art to review the selection. 

“I was approached in 2017 by PhotoAssist, a Maryland-based image fact-checking company contracted by the United States Postal Service because the USPS wanted to make a Christmas stamp with a Latin American image. One of my specialties is colonial Latin American painting,” explains Dr. Bailey. “As a consultant I reviewed art, text, and subject matter to make sure the painting and its historical significance are represented accurately.” 

Dr. Bailey says normally the Madonna and Child images chosen for Christmas are European in origin – in the past many have been from the Italian Renaissance, from U.S. museums (e.g. a Florentine Renaissance one for the 2016 Christmas stamp, from the National Gallery of Art). Our Lady of Guápulo is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

This oil painting depicts a pilgrimage image of the Virgin and Child (a dressed sculpture) named the Virgin of the Rosary of Guápulo in present-day Ecuador. She herself is a 1584 copy of a Spanish sculpture called the Virgin of Guadalupe. In fact, “Guápulo” was a local Quito mispronunciation of “Guadalupe.” Toward the end of the 17th century paintings of the sculpture began to proliferate as a way of raising funds for the original shrine and the Virgin’s cult spread throughout the Andes. 

“The painting on the USPS Christmas stamp represents the apex of colonial painting in South America and is painted with extreme delicacy and attention to detail, particularly of the costume,” says Dr. Bailey, Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art. “What makes it interesting is that it is not just a copy of the original but reflects Peruvian taste in the lavishness of its costume and golden crowns, and in the prominence of the floral bouquet.” 

For more information, view the stamp here

Canada’s next big author is a Queen’s grad

Iain Reid
Iain Reid's novel 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things' has been adapted into a movie that is now available on Netflix. (Supplied Photo)

Iain Reid (Artsci’04) doesn’t spend much time contemplating if he is Canada’s next big author, but evidence points to that direction.

The writer of four books won the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award in 2015. His first work of fiction, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, received critical acclaim in 2016 and made several Top-10 books of the year lists. That novel, a dark tale about a woman who takes a road trip with her new boyfriend to meet his parents, has now been adapted into a movie by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and debuted on Netflix on Sept. 4.

The film rights for his other novel, Foe, have also been sold to a film company. (No word yet if it will be turned into a movie.)

If that is not enough proof of his rising-star status, Vice magazine recently called him “Canada’s next big author.”

It’s hard to get the very humble Reid to brag about himself. He’s heard the hype, but he tends not to get caught up on what others say about him. He is a bit of an introvert, so he is focused on spending time in his Kingston home writing his next novel. Before COVID-19, he enjoyed taking breaks to play pickup basketball at the ARC on the Queen’s campus.

He used to be able to work on projects without anyone paying much attention to him. Now his phone has been ringing a lot since the I’m Thinking of Ending Things movie trailer was released on Aug. 6. 

“I’m used to flying under the radar,” Reid says. “I really appreciate the interest and people reading and talking about my books. At the same time, it feels weird that people are aware of things I am doing in a way they weren’t before.”

He says he never dreamed about being a novelist. His dad is an English professor, so he was thinking about an academic career. He studied history and philosophy at Queen’s, but after taking a writing course with Queen’s English Professor Carolyn Smart, he decided to postpone grad school and move to Toronto for a year to give writing a shot.

He started submitting his work to literary magazines and was soon being published in major media outlets such as the National Post and The New Yorker.

“I kept putting off grad school and was having enough success where one year turned into two, and then three,” Reid says. “I never really thought writing could be a full-time job.”

His first two books, One Bird's Choice and The Truth About Luck, were lighthearted personal memoirs. Reid’s third book, I’m thinking of Ending Things, caught the attention of Charlie Kaufman, the writer of critically-acclaimed films such as Being John MalkovichAdaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which won the 2005 Academy Award for best original screenplay.)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
A scene from the recently-released movie 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things.'

Kaufman has a reputation as one of the movie industry’s most creative screenwriters who makes thought-provoking movies. Kaufman, who both wrote and directed I’m Thinking of Ending Things, consulted with the author while writing the screenplay. Reid had total trust in the filmmaker and was happy to stand back and see what creative spins the Oscar-winner would put on his book.

“I know he is going to do something that is truthful and honest for the right reasons,” Reid says, who visited the set but wasn’t involved in the day-to-day filming. “He is not going to tweak it to make it more marketable or mainstream. I am a fan of his, so knowing his work, I told him to take (my novel) and do whatever he wants and I will be excited by it.”

Reid is happy with the movie. He recognizes the story structure of his novel, but says a lot of the dialogue was re-written. He says it feels surreal to see his book on screen on a hugely popular platform like Netflix.

“I am excited for people to see it now because I really like the film. I think it is ambitious and bold and will generate a lot of discussion. For me, that’s an exciting thought,” he says. “I never had any career ambition to pursue anything in the film world. I love movies, but I was always more familiar with the literary world. I feel kind of strange and lucky.”

New Agnes Etherington Art Centre director announced

Emelie Chhangur
Emelie Chhangur will begin her appointment as the director and curator of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Oct. 1, 2020.

Queen’s University welcomes Emelie Chhangur as the director and curator of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

An accomplished curator, writer, and artist, Chhangur will begin her appointment on Oct. 1, 2020.

“Emelie will bring an invaluable perspective to the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre and to the Queen’s community,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “She impressed the search committee with her holistic vision of how the Agnes can play a critical role in engaging our community, inspiring dialogue, and strengthening the university’s academic and research mission.”

Chhangur arrives from the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) in Toronto, where she led the reorientation of AGYU to become a civic, community-facing, ethical space driven by social process and intersectional collaboration, as well as founded its residency program. She most recently served as AGYU’s Interim Director and Senior Curator.

Members of the advisory selection committee:
• Teri Shearer (Co-Chair), Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion)
• Glen Bloom (Co-Chair), Chair, Agnes Etherington Art Centre Advisory Board
• Nadia Jagar (Secretary), Manager, Special Projects and Business Officer, Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
• Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean, Faculty of Education • Dylan Robinson, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts
• Kristin Moriah, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Language and Literature
• Alicia Boutilier, Chief Curator and Curator of Canadian Historical Art
• Norman Vorano, Art History and Art Conservation Department Head
• Tom Hewitt, Chief Development Officer, Advancement
• Jean Pfleiderer, Associate Director, Human Rights Advisory Services
• Jennifer Nicoll, Collections Manager and Exhibition Coordinator
• Susan Lord, Professor, Department of Film and Media

Over the past 20 years, Chhangur has emerged as a leading voice for experimental curatorial practice in Canada and is celebrated nationally and internationally for her process-based, participatory approach to curating. She is also highly regarded for her commissioning of complex works across all media and the creation of long-term collaborative projects that are performatively staged within and outside the gallery context.

Chhangur joins the Agnes at a pivotal point in its history. Queen’s recently announced a US $40-million gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., to revitalize and expand the Agnes and create a new home for the Bader Collection. The philanthropic investment has the potential to create one of the largest university art museums in Canada and will help Queen’s researchers and students play a fundamental role in enabling societies to understand, protect, and experience the world’s artistic and cultural treasures.

“I am committed to furthering the Agnes’ mandate of inclusion and its move toward decolonial art practices, and community engagement,” says Chhangur. “I believe the Agnes is poised to take on an exemplary leadership role in transforming museological practices in Canada. The remarkable and visionary gift of Bader Philanthropies will stimulate an intense period of research, experimentation, community building, and growth as we prepare to open a landmark regional art centre of influence, both nationally and internationally.”

Since 2004, Chhangur has won 25 awards for writing, publishing, exhibition making, public programs, and education from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. In 2019, she won the Ontario Association of Art Galleries’ inaugural BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) Changemaker Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award. She has also published numerous award-winning books on contemporary art and regularly presents her research at conferences internationally. She holds a Master of Visual Studies from the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.

Queen's launches Indigenous Initiatives website

New site brings together campus-wide information and resources on Queen's University Indigenous research, initiatives, cultural services, and more.

Indigenous graduates

Campus community members can now learn about and engage with Queen’s University’s Indigenous research, initiatives, cultural services, and more on the newly-launched Office of Indigenous Initiatives website.

“It is important for reconciliation that Indigenous voices be incorporated into the work—the projects, research, and initiatives – that take place here at Queen’s,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “My hope is that we continue to approach this work with Ka’nikonhrí:yo (a good mind) and I believe that our new website serves as a great starting point to help individuals to better understand Indigenous values, and how our values relate to relationship building, research, methodologies, pedagogies, and knowledge.”

The site’s design is uniquely arranged to guide users through key themes and initiatives, including Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, and Decolonizing and Indigenizing. It also showcases Indigenous ‘faces, spaces, and places’ at Queen’s, making it easier for Queen’s community members to connect with campus Elders, as well as Indigenous services for students and employees. Key pages on the site are also set to be translated into both the Kanyen’ke:ha (Mohawk) and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) languages, as Queen’s University is situated on the land of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe.

The launch of the website also meets recommendation #11 of the university’s Yakwanastahentéha Aankenjigemi Extending the Rafters: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Final Report. The report – a set of 25 recommendations created to advance sustained institutional change – guides the university as it continues work to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities; cultivate deeper understanding of Indigenous histories, knowledge systems, and experiences; and nurture a campus that values and reflects Indigenous perspectives.

“I encourage anyone considering Queen’s University as a place of employment or a place of higher education, and those who are part of the community already, to visit our new website,” says Hill. “It provides a wealth of information for anyone looking to engage with our Indigenous research, initiatives, and cultural services, and I know it will lead us all to a better understanding of our shared path ahead.”

Visit the new Office of Indigenous Initiatives website.

Recommended reads from Indigenous Initiatives staff

Office of Indigenous Initiatives staff highlight their favourite books by Indigenous authors.

Stack of books (Photo by Kimberly Farmer, via Unsplash)

As National Indigenous History Month came to a close last week, staff in Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives collected a list of important book suggestions for the campus community to continue its learning into the summer.

“It’s important for Canadians to read books by Indigenous authors as this provides an opportunity for learning and can help to foster a stronger understanding of the different perspectives that Indigenous Peoples may hold,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “My hope is that these books will inspire the Queen’s community to approach relationship building, reconciliation, and conciliation with Indigenous Peoples in a good way.”

The range of literature spans topics of history and politics, philosophy, gender, poetry, language and education, and a book for children.

Recommended reading list:

From Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill):

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
A very moving, thoughtful and thought-provoking story about family, identity, and connections with self, others, and Creation.

In Divided Unity: Haudenosaunee Reclamation at Grand River by Theresa McCarthy
Important in understanding the deep-rooted ideas that informed the Grand River Community and their decision to reclaim contested lands in 2006. Speaks to Haudenosaunee traditional cultural representations and the importance of the women.

Thinking in Indian: A John Mohawk Reader by Jose Barreir
John Mohawk was a highly respected Haudenosaunee philosopher, thinker, activist, and scholar, as well as an elder of the Seneca Nation. He was a deeply-rooted Haudenosaunee traditionalist whose oratory and thinking continues to inform Haudenosaunee activism.

From Wendy Phillips, Elder in Residence:

Think Indian by Basil Johnston
A collection of essays from an Indigenous linguist and first language speaker that covers a range of topics, from language and storytelling, to culture and education.

From Haley Cochrane, Project and Communications Coordinator:

21 Things you May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph
An eye-opening read for those interested in learning more about the Indian Act and the discrimination Indigenous Peoples have faced and continue to face as a result of unjust systemic policies and practices in Canada.

From Amy Brant, Training Facilitator:

Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel
Chelsea touches on many issues about Indigenous people in Canada today, from terminology and law, to culture and identity. A good read for anyone wanting to delve into issues from an Indigenous perspective and Chelsea really keeps you engaged throughout the book, writing as if she is sitting and talking with you.

From Marshall Hill, Research Assistant:

Indian Land by Lesley Belleau
A collection of poems written from the perspective of an Anishinaabe woman with a fierce love for her people, her family, and the land.

You Are Enough: Love Poems for the End of the World by Smokii Sumac
Winner of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Poetry in English, this collection is a complex yet forceful meditation on grief and love, consent and gender, through the life of a Ktunaxa Two-Spirit person.

From Sara Mouland, Office Assistant:

The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton-Banai
A good read with stories, myths, and traditions for children.

$40-million gift for the Agnes and a new home for the Bader Collection

Donation from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., will revitalize the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, create a new home for the Bader Collection, and help researchers and students.

Photo of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Expanded galleries and more technical spaces will enhance Queen’s ability to care for and showcase the Agnes’s art collections.

Queen’s University is announcing a $40-million (USD) gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., to revitalize and expand the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and create a new home for the Bader Collection. 

The philanthropic investment has the potential to create one of the largest university art museums in Canada and will help Queen’s researchers and students play a fundamental role in enabling societies to better understand, protect, and experience the world’s artistic and cultural treasures. 

“Queen’s University is the place where my father’s future as a renowned chemist, entrepreneur, art collector and philanthropist started and is one of the reasons why the Foundation is inspired to make a significant commitment,” says Daniel J. Bader, President/CEO of Bader Philanthropies, Inc. “Queen’s University’s ground-breaking vision for the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, a world class visual arts institution, has the potential to transform the lives of students, practitioners and art enthusiasts for decades to come.  And we are grateful to be a partner as we begin this chapter.” 

The revitalized Agnes will create a vibrant hub for the presentation, research, and study of visual arts on campus. The facility will include the art museum, which is a learning space for diverse disciplines at Queen’s and is the public gallery for Kingston and region, as well as homes for the graduate program in Art Conservation, and graduate and undergraduate programs in Art History. 

“The arts ignite our creative pursuits and speak to the very core of our humanity,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. Even during these trying and challenging times, we have seen how the arts have provided solace and optimism bringing us together to understand our shared history and culture. The power of art cannot be underestimated, and today’s announcement is an exciting step towards making Queen’s one of the world’s foremost leaders in arts education.”   

Queen’s will be better able to attract top students and strengthen the university’s position as a premier destination for education in the visual arts. The revitalized Agnes will create new opportunities for research and enhance experiential learning opportunities for students across disciplines. For students in the arts, this will help them graduate as leaders in their fields who go on to make valuable contributions at the world’s top museums and institutes.  

“As a student of the arts, the value of the rich collections, incredible opportunities, and commitment to student learning at the Agnes cannot be understated,” says Maddi Andrews, Artsci19, MA21 and Research Assistant, Digital Projects (European Art) at the Agnes. “Not only have my academic studies been strengthened by proximity to these diverse collections, but my involvement as a volunteer and employee has uniquely prepared me for my future career path. The revitalization of Agnes means more students will have the opportunity to grow and explore.” 

Expanded galleries and more technical spaces will enhance Queen’s ability to care for and showcase the Agnes’s magnificent art collections, including cutting-edge contemporary art, Indigenous art, Canadian historical art and African historical art, as well as the Collection of Canadian Dress.The Bader Collection of European Art comprises more than 500 works with a focus on 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting, including one portrait and three exquisite character studies by Rembrandt. 

An expanded Agnes will enable the university to create central ceremonial and event spaces available to the entire Queen’s community, as well as dedicated space for use by Indigenous communities. 

The revitalization project is expected to be completed in 2024. The Agnes was last expanded in 2000 with considerable assistance from the Bader Family. 

The late Dr. Alfred Bader, BSc’45, BA’46, MSc’47, LLD’86, and his wife, Dr. Isabel Overton Bader, LLD’07, have been among the university’s most generous benefactors, supporting the arts at Queen’s for decades.  

Daniel (Alfred’s son) continues his family’s legacy of philanthropy at Queen’s. Last year, he and his wife, Linda, donated a Rembrandt painting, Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair,to the Agnes in honour of Alfred. 

The funding announcement was made during a virtual event held on Zoom. To watch the virtual event and hear remarks from members of the Bader family as well as leaders from Queen's, see the recording of the announcement.

Queen’s Announces Investments in the Arts  

This gift is among a number of philanthropic investments Queen’s is announcing in support of the arts this month. Other gifts include a donation by Marjorie Ernestine Bernstein in support of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, and gifts to the Department of Art History and Art Conservation from The Jarislowsky Foundation and Dr. Isabel Overton BaderFollow Queen’s Alumni on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for the latest news.

Gift to help the Isabel foster a more inclusive community

$3.5-million gift in honour of the late Jennifer Velva Bernstein, Artsci’89will help the Isabel host more artists from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Photo of a performance
The Isabel will use the gift to support artistic programming and educational training at the centre, including covering the costs to bring more top performers and emerging artists to Kingston.

Tricia Baldwin, the director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, takes pride in offering audiences a diverse mix of world-class artists and socially engaged performances. Performing arts events such as those about the Indigenous residential school experience and musical acts from around the globe expose audiences to different cultures and perspectives, which Ms. Baldwin says helps contribute to a more inclusive society. 

“With socially engaged art, you are actually bringing in a point of view of an under-represented group to the majority,” Baldwin says. “The Isabel is a very beautiful place to share music and ideas. It can help create a more knowledgeable and better society.” 

A recent $3.5-million donation will allow the Isabel to offer more programming that fosters that inclusive environment. Marjorie Ernestine Bernstein made the gift to Queen’s in honour of her late daughter, Jennifer Velva Bernstein, Artsci’89. 

Jennifer Velva Bernstein loved the arts and was passionate about social causes. She earned film degrees from both Queen’s and Webster University in St. Louis, as well as a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. She died in a bus crash in 1995 while on a humanitarian mission to Haiti organized by the People to People Project, a private charitable group. 

“We are so grateful for the Bernstein’s family’s belief in the Isabel and belief in the role of arts in society,” says Baldwin. “Our philosophy of programming and inclusion matches Jennifer’s efforts to try to make this a better world.” 

In recognition of the gift, the Isabel’s main 566-seat performance hall has been renamedthe Jennifer Velva Bernstein Performance Hall. 

The Isabel will use the gift to support artistic programming and educational training at the centre, including covering the costs to bring more top performers and emerging artists to Kingston. It will also help subsidize tickets and events, allowing people to enjoy more festivals such as Ka'tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts and the Isabel Human Rights Festival and student initiatives through the MyIsabel Alma Mater Society  program such as TEDxQueensU and the Project Afro-Odyssey.   

Baldwin feels it is important for students to carry that value of diverse programming into their future careers. 

“I believe that a university has the ability to communicate to its students that the performing arts have worth beyond entertainment,” says Ms. Baldwin. “By producing, presenting, or attending socially engaged arts on social justice topics, students learn that artists can be creative initiators and champions for social change. This enables them to see the possibilities for their own participation and roles in creating a fairer world when they graduate.” 

Queen’s Announces Investments in the Arts  

The gift to the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is among a number of philanthropic investments Queen’s is announcing in support of the arts this month, including gifts to the Department of Art History and Art Conservation from The Jarislowsky Foundation and Dr. Isabel Bader, LLD'07Follow Queen’s Alumni on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for the latest news.


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