2023 Student Impact Award winners

For the third year in a row, Fine Arts honoured the winners of our annual Student Community Impact Awards as part of the Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards. Held on November 24 at Victoria City Hall, Fine Arts Dean Allana Lindgren presented three separate awards of $1,000 each to Heidi Goetz and Nathan Malzon (both School of Music students), and recent Visual Arts grad Laveen Gammie.

Including our 2023 winners, Fine Arts has now given over $10,000 to eight different students over the last three years — all thanks to the generosity of our donors.

Created in 2021 by the Dean’s External Advisory Committee, the Student Community Impact Awards recognize individual achievements or outstanding efforts made by full-time Fine Arts undergraduate students for a local arts organization.

Next-generation learning

Heidi Goetz (seen here with Fine Arts alum Matthew Payne) won her work as the coordinator of Music Discoveries, the School of Music’s annual weekend music camp — which, in January 2023, welcomed over 100 SD61 middle-school students and involved more than 40 volunteers in the two-day event.

As Music professor Steven J. Capaldo pointed out in his support letter, “Heidi demonstrated genuine dedication and commitment to providing strong service to the music education community, as well as her desire to improve the lives of the students with whom she connects.”

Music technology in action

Nathan Malzon won for being an enthusiastic part of creating the permanent live-streaming system for downtown’s Christ Church Cathedral; this has become an essential method for broadcasting both their regular worship services and substantial music performances.

As Christ Church’s Reverend Canon Jeannine Friesen says, “Nathan has devoted hundreds of hours to this work . . . thanks to him, we can bring sacred and secular music to thousands of people, not only in Victoria, but around the world.”

Engaging the public

Laveen Gammie picked up her award for her unflagging work in taking an unwanted room in downtown’s vibrant Rockslide Studio and turning it into the vibrant Vault Gallery. Currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Chicag, Laveen wasn’t able to attend the ceremony.

As Rockslide’s chair Logan Ford says, “Laveen worked tirelessly — and fully voluntarily — to develop and lead this innovative space for over a year. The Vault has made a remarkable impact on the local creative scene and has shown that Laveen has a genuine passion for the arts and dedication to her community.”

A legacy of achievement

While the GVRAAs recognize a variety of early- and mid-career achievements, we consider our own Student Community Impact Awards as more of a pre-career category, as all our recipients are definitely talents to watch.

For over 50 years, Fine Arts has been the city’s incubator for artists, technicians, curators, scholars, volunteers, arts administrators, board members, and appreciative audience members.

Indeed, a great many of our alumni can be found on the list of previous GVRAA winners: Matthew Payne, Lindsay Delaronde, Mercedes Batiz Benet, Andrew Barrett, Rebekkah Johnson, Colton Hash, Sarah Jim, Chelsea Kutyn
. . . all have emerged from Fine Arts to become key players in Victoria’s arts scene.

Finally, we were excited to see Theatre alum Andrew Barrett‘s performance company Impulse Theatre win the $15,000 JAYMAC Outstanding Production Award this year for their recent performance, The Soft Spaces.

Congratulations to all! 

Giving Tuesday in Fine Arts: Climate Disaster Project

November 28 is Giving Tuesday, a day when the entire UVic community will unite around a common cause — supporting the students and programs that make this university the very special place it is.

This year, UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts is raising funds to help create the world’s largest living library of climate disaster experiences, which will help connect climate disaster survivors around the word, and spark urgent action on climate change.

We hope you’ll join together with our entire Fine Arts community and make a donation to the Climate Disaster Project. Your gift will support UVic journalism students in their field work and interviews as they collect these climate disaster stories for an anthology that will be published in Fall 2025 by Purich Books (UBC Press). 

Climate disaster survivors Patsy Gessey & Owen Collins look towards Lytton, where they lost their home
during the 2021 Lytton Creek Fire. The next year, they faced fires again. (CDP/Jen Osborne)


Hope through community

Climate disasters — like forest fires, floods and extreme drought — are becoming more and more common. In the coming decades, these disasters could divide us, as walls are built around the world to protect those with the most and keep out those with the least.

But these disasters could also unite us if we see the commonalities in one another’s experiences.

With your support, the Climate Disaster Project, which is based in UVic’s Department of Writing, is creating a massive archive of eyewitness climate disaster accounts. The Climate Disaster Project trains students to work on the frontlines of climate change — a skill that will only become more necessary as time goes on.

To date, 194 students have been trained in trauma-informed interviewing skills, and students have interviewed 128 survivors of climate disasters about their experience. The Climate Disaster Project has already published 44 testimonies in The Tyee, the Fraser Valley Current, Asparagus and Megaphone magazines, partnered with APTN Investigates and the Royal BC Museum’s Community Gallery, had two students interviewed on CBC Radio’s national climate-change show What On Earth, and is about to be featured in the December/January issue of Reader’s Digest — Canada’s most-read magazine.

Donor created, donor supported

The Climate Disaster Project’s work covering the humanitarian crisis of climate change was founded in 2021 thanks to a generous donation from philanthropist and businessman Wayne Crookes. Our work is inspired by his deep concern for preserving our planet.

Your gift today will help create the world’s largest living library of climate disaster experiences, and will support UVic journalism students in their field work and interviews.

We hope you’ll consider joining the Giving Tuesday movement with a gift to the Climate Disaster Project.

Legacy gift highlights Steinway anniversary

Arthur Rowe performing on one of UVic’s Steinway pianos (photo: Leon Fei)

Fifteen years ago, UVic’s School of Music was named Canada’s first All-Steinway School and, while there are now over 200 All-Steinway schools globally, UVic is still the only one in Canada — a significant designation currently being celebrated with both a new $300,000 estate gift and a signature concert.

“Steinways are recognized worldwide for their excellence and are by far the most preferred concert piano in the world,” says School of Music piano professor Arthur Rowe.

But keeping 63 pianos ready for daily student use also requires constant tuning and repairs, which makes the new $300,000 Martha Cooke Fund so important. Named for the late Public Archives Canada curator, Cooke’s legacy earmarks $200,000 for essential piano maintenance.

 “These pianos are now 15 years old, so this gift comes to us at a critical time,” says Rowe. “Maintaining our excellent instruments is crucial, so these funds will help ensure the longevity and excellence of our Steinways.”

Internationally renowned guest pianist

The Martha Cooke Fund also sets aside a further $100,000 for three years of annual concerts and masterclasses with internationally renowned Korean-American pianist Minsoo Sohn — the first of which debuts October 3 at UVic when he presents an awe-inspiring performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s complete Études-Tableaux.

Sohn will also host a free public masterclass with School of Music piano students at 10:30am Wednesday, Oct 4, which all are welcome to attend.

As the winner of many prestigious competitions and a teacher of renowned pianists himself, Minsoo Sohn’s concerts and masterclasses will demonstrate his own pursuit of musical excellence for the benefit of UVic students. This promises to be an extraordinary experience that will transport audiences to a realm of emotion, virtuosity and musical brilliance.

Masterful virtuosity

Known for his musical intelligence and masterful virtuosity — qualities that have earned him acclaim throughout the United States, Canada and Korea — Sohn’s readings of the works of Bach and Beethoven in particular have placed him among the elect in this repertoire, and the inspired ingenuity of his performances of orchestral repertoire have earned him many accolades.

Sohn owes much of his success to his mentors, Russell Sherman and Wha Kyung Byun, with whom he studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston. After teaching at Michigan State University, Sohn returned to South Korea where he instantly became a much sought after performer and pedagogue, as he joined the faculty at Korean National University of Arts. He has also served on the jury at prominent international piano competitions including Honens, Top of the World and Busoni Competition.

Southam Lecture: Erica Gies

“Nearly every human endeavor on the planet was conceived and constructed with a relatively stable climate in mind. But as new climate disasters remind us every day, our world is not stable — and it is changing in ways that expose the deep dysfunction of our relationship with water. Increasingly severe and frequent floods and droughts inevitably spur calls for higher levees, bigger drains, and longer aqueducts. But as we grapple with extreme weather, a hard truth is emerging: our development, including concrete infrastructure designed to control water, is actually exacerbating our problems. Because sooner or later, water always wins.”

So writes acclaimed science journalist Erica Gies in her “quietly radical” book, Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge (University of Chicago Press), where she introduces us to innovators in what she calls the “Slow Water” movement who start by asking a revolutionary question: What does water want?

Appearing live on campus

Find out more when this National Geographic Explorer and independent journalist appears on campus as the 2023 Southam Lecturer in the Department of Writing, offering the free public talk “Water Always Wins: Working with Nature in an Age of Drought, Fire & Flood”.

While Gies spoke on campus on Oct 3, her talk is now live for viewing here: 

Slow water

As Dept of Writing Lansdowne Professor Deborah Campbell notes in this recent Tyee interview with Erica Gies, she also coined the term “Slow Water” to describe working with water’s natural processes.

“Like ‘Slow Food’, ‘Slow Water’ works with local geology, ecology and culture to figure out how to make space for that place’s natural slow phases of water, respecting its agency and relationships,” explains Gies. “Slow Water means systems thinking rather than single-focus solutions. Projects are distributed across the landscape rather than centralized. Slow Water solutions are also local and environmentally just.” 

Journalism with impact

With Water Always Wins recently published in the US, UK and China, Gies’ reporting on water, climate change, plants and critters continues to appear in Scientific American, Hakai, The New York Times, The Narwhal, The Guardian and other publications.

She has received the Sierra Club’s Rachel Carson Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism, Friends of the River’s California River Award, the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation’s Excellence in Journalism Award and was a finalist for the Berlin-based Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year Award.

She has given keynote talks at the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, scientific and water industry conferences, and to government agencies, community organizations, NGOs and classrooms. Media appearances include CBC, CNN International and public radio in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England and the United States.

A legacy of excellence

Gies is only the latest journalist to be named a Southam Lecturer, joining the recent likes of Tyee founder David Beers, climate journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, photojournalist Farah Nosh and many others. Since 2007, we have been bringing some of Canada’s leading print and broadcast journalists to campus to speak, teach and mentor our Writing students.  

The annual Harvey Stevenson Southam Lectureship — named after UVic alumnus Harvey Southam — is made possible by a gift from one of the country’s leading publishing families.

Phoenix subscribers play a vital role as patrons & donors

Student Ximena Garduño Rodríguez in 2023’s Phoenix production of Mojada (photo: Megan Farrell)

As anyone who has ever been to the Phoenix Theatre well knows, our students learn by doing. They’re involved in every aspect of our productions—from running the box office and acting on stage, to working on the design, creation and management of sets, costumes, props, sound and lighting. 

But our audiences also play a vital role as patrons and donors, whose contributions allow us to provide the best education we can by hiring industry professionals, renting and building costumes and sets, and purchasing state-of-the-art production equipment.

“To me, it’s important to support theatre, as I feel it’s a vital part of life,” says Anne McLaughlin, who has not only been an annual subscriber for over 30 years but, as a donor, has also funded a graduate scholarship in applied theatre.

Many season subscribers also find it gratifying to be able to follow the careers of graduates as they move forward with their professional lives. “If you’ve never been to Phoenix Theatre, give it a try,” she continues. “You might get hooked!”

McLaughlin is just one of many longtime subscribers and donors who are vital to the Phoenix’s success. “Theatre as an art form cannot exist without our audiences and we are thankful for every patron who walks through our door,” says Audience Services Manager Sandra Guerreiro (right)—herself an alum of the department.

“I’ve worked here for over 37 years and pride myself on the relationships I’ve built,” she says. “Our loyal patrons even supported us through COVID and helped us weather a year without any performances in order to support students on their educational journeys.”

Tickets and subscriptions are now on sale for the 23/24 Phoenix season, which features three shows—The Importance of Being Earnest, 100 Years of Broadway and Hot L Baltimore directed by returning alumni directors!