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 Barret, Rebekkah Johnson, Colton Hash, Sarah Jim, Chelsea Kutyn . . . all have emerged from Fine Arts to become key players in Victoria’s arts scene.

International exchange info fair

Did you know UVic offers academic exchanges with over 70 other universities worldwide? That means you can study and travel and not feel like you’re falling behind in your degree work!

Learn more at our free international exchange information session specifically for Fine Arts students, running 12:30-2pm Wednesday, Nov 29, in Fine Arts room 108. Come for the info, stay for the snacks! Register in advance here (just for the snacks.)

An incredible experience

“Solo travelling and moving abroad was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” says Writing student Sophie Thomas, who spent a semester at the University of Manchester in 2022. “I’m excited to be back on the island but I’ll miss all the amazing people I met, and the places that I got to know. “

Thomas combined some solo European travel ahead of her semester with weekend trips to places like Germany, Scotland and Ireland while she was studying in Manchester.

Why choose international?

“Doing an international exchange was something I had wanted to do my entire degree,” says Thomas. “I wanted to a chance to learn in a new environment and be immersed in different cultures. Studying abroad offers a knowledge and perspective different from what you learn at UVic. This experience comes back home with you and I found it helped me think from different angles when I returned.”

The November 29 info session will feature returning exchange students from a variety of Fine Arts departments, plus a representative from UVic’s international office who can speak to issues around travel visas, academic equivalencies, housing, financing and more.

“Doing an international exchange is such an incredibly rewarding experience,” says Thomas.
“Interacting with other people and cultures is an experience that pushes you to grow, learn new skills and make new connections . . . it can feel like a scary step to make, but the experience you get is worth it. And honestly, the exchange was so much fun and the memories you make you will cherish forever!”

Upcoming Music concerts

It’s a busy month for concerts and recitals in the School of Music! Here’s a quick roundup of what’s coming up.

UVic Vocal Jazz Ensemble: Into the Twilight

Directed by Music instructor Wendell Clanton, the UVic Vocal Jazz Ensemble has established a reputation for artistic excellence, stylistic flexibility, and performances of original and inspiring arrangements. Join them for an evening of timeless classics, old and new.

7pm Sunday, Nov 19 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (MacLaurin Building, B-Wing). By donation. Find out more info.

This concert will be available as a live stream.

Faculty Concert Series: I Have Been to Tibet

Music professor Ajtony Csaba leads the audience on a captivating journey, weaving together diverse keyboard repertory from different eras, improvisations, electronic sounds, and evocative live imagery.

Drawing inspiration from locations of significant heritage, such as Tibet, Csaba creates an avant-garde music theatre experience rich in storytelling with a travel diary’s essence.

8pm Monday, Nov 20 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (MacLaurin Building, B-Wing). By donation. More info here.

Emerging Artists Alumni Series: Thomas Law & Nikola Markovic

School of Music alumnus Thomas Law (BMus ’14) brings us a program of works written for flute and piano curated with a keen focus on increasing performance representation of female-identifying Asian composers.

The program features works by Janet Sit (MMus ’15), Chen Yi, and Yuko Uebayashi.

7:30pm Thursday, Nov 23 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (MacLaurin Building, B-Wing). By donation. More info

UVic Symphony Orchestra: Chopin & Farrenc

Join us for an evening of symphonic grandeur featuring two monumental works: Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, and Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 32.

Featuring current student & 2023 UVic Concerto Competition winner Carey Wang on piano with conductor Giuseppe Pietraroia.

8pm Friday, Nov 24 in The Farquhar at UVic (Jamie Cassels Centre). Tickets are $15-$28, but free for UVic students. More info.

Sonic Lab: Moving On: Revolutions in the Rearview Mirror

Directed by Music professor Ajtony Csaba, UVic’s New Music Ensemble showcases compositions by revolutionary centenarians Iannis Xenakis and György Ligeti, juxtaposed with influential pieces by their contemporaries such as Conlon Nancarrow, as well as fresh and innovative works by emerging and established composers.

8pm Sunday, Nov 26 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (MacLaurin Building, B-Wing). By donation. More info.

This concert will be available as a live stream.

UVic Jazz & Creative Music Ensemble: The Music of Phil Nimmons

In the big band style, UVic’s Jazz & Creative Music Ensemble presents a concert featuring the music of Phil Nimmons to celebrate his 100th birthday! Nimmons is often referred to as the “Dean of Canadian jazz,” and is known for his work as a clarinetist, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator; in 2002 he was the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement for his more than six decades of contributions to the arts in Canada, including 45 years of service as an educator at the University of Toronto.

Don’t miss this dynamic and energetic evening of jazz, led by Music instructor Scott MacInnes.

8pm Wednesday, Nov 29 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (MacLaurin Building, B-Wing). By donation. More info.

This concert will also be available as a live stream.

Feeling Earnest at the Phoenix

Eric Barnes in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Phoenix Theatre (photo: Dean Kalyan)

The Importance of Being Earnest — Oscar Wilde’s timeless comic masterpiece — has long been celebrated for its sharp humour and daring social commentary. But despite being over a century old and a justifiable mainstay of Western theatre, Earnest has surprisingly never before been mounted at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre.

Running November 9-25, this production debut promises an uproarious evening where identity, transition and transformation collide. Yet despite Victorian Britain’s reservations, modern audiences continue to adore and embrace Wilde’s brilliant play for its enduring humour and relevance.

A transgressive satire

In this fresh take on Wilde’s play, guest alumni director Alistair Newton explores the hidden layers and remarkable queerness that underscore the relationships among the characters. Instead of sticking to traditional Victorian aesthetics, Netwon dives into a dramatic world filled with melodrama, secret codes and playful contradictions, breaking free from the usual clichés associated with this era.

 A perennially popular production that has never gone out of style since its 1895 debut. What’s the appeal for a very contemporary director like Newton?

“Aside from the obvious answer that it has got to be one of the greatest works of comic writing in the English language, it’s also a work coded with all sorts of transgressive satire—much of which would only have been legible to those members of the audience with the right ear to hear it,” he says. “Populism with a wicked satirical edge has always been irresistible to me.”

Earnest director Alistair Newton (photo: Carly Lemmon)

Syrah Khan (left) & Carter Lapham in The Importance of Being Earnest (photo: Dean Kalyan)

Reevaluating the 19th century

Newton, who is also teaching Theatre’s fall elective on drag culture and was just announced as a director for the prestigious Shaw Festival’s 2024 season, says he enjoys “excavating the hidden histories and secret codes” of what’s often described as classical theatre.

Earnest is so constantly revived that it almost feels like a meme at this point, rather than a play,” he explains. “True, the 19th century gave us hysterical sexual repression and the codification of rigid gender roles, but it also gave us radicals who rebelliously pushed back—like the pioneering sexologist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, the Danish artist and trans woman Lili Elbe, and William Dorsey Swann, an enslaved black activist and drag performer who was likely the first person to refer to himself as a ‘queen’.”

Something quarrellous, something queer

In an era when RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a global TV sensation and drag artists regularly appear everywhere from restaurant brunches to library readings, Newton feels Earnest will definitely resonate with Phoenix audiences.

“Oscar Wilde loved a paradox, and both his legacy and the history of Earnest has sort of become one: at the time of his arrest for ‘gross indecency’, Wilde had two hit shows running in the West End and had completely conquered mainstream boulevard entertainment in London — but, at the same time, his queerness was considered so scandalous by his society that they had to forcibly remove him from their midst.”

From left: Samantha Frew, Syrah Khan &  Claudia Fraser (photo: Dean Kalyan) 

Alumni in the house

Finally, as a returning alumni, how does it feel for Newton to be back at the Phoenix — both directing and teaching? “A lot of things change in a couple of decades, but some things are exactly how I left them: the graffiti on the scene shop wall and the very particular smell as you first enter the Roger Bishop Theatre,” he quips.

“But I think my favourite change is something I perceive in the students: they seem much more willing to advocate for themselves and to challenge orthodoxies, ideas of canon and the educational status quo. At the risk of sounding like an old queen, the kids definitely seem alright to me.”

The Importance of Being Earnest runs November 9-25 at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre

New sxʷiʔe’m Indigenous Writers & Storyteller Series launches

When the new sxʷiʔe ̕m “To Tell A Story” Indigenous Writers & Storytellers Series launches at UVic on November 10, it will be offered as a gift to the community by the Department of Writing and professor Gregory Scofield.

“My goal is to honor the nations on whose territory we live, and to celebrate and honour the writers and storytellers in our communities,” he says.

To launch this latest offering in Victoria’s literary landscape, the Writing department is honouring two acclaimed alumni: Syilx Okanagan multidisciplinary author Jeannette Armstrong — an Order of Canada recipient and founder of Penticton’s acclaimed En’owkin Centre — and award-winning WSÁNEC poet Philip Kevin Paul, a past Governor General’s Award poetry finalist and former instructor with the Writing department.

Gregory Scofield

“Jeannette Armstrong is a matriarch, an author, a storyteller and an incredible educator working in language revival,” says Scofield. “Philip Kevin Paul is an amazing poet and storyteller, as well as a local knowledge keeper and SENĆOŦEN language speaker. I’m very excited to be able to celebrate these writers and storytellers.”

Indeed, both our Writing department and the Faculty of Fine Arts have a long history with the En’owkin Centre, whose Foundations Indigenous Fine Arts Progam ladders towards a UVic BFA.

An exciting time for Indigenous writers & storytellers

Inspired by a similar series he ran while teaching at Ontario’s Laurentian University, Scofield began working on this new series shortly after joining UVic’s Writing department in 2019.

“It has been and continues to be a very exciting time for Indigenous writers and storytellers,” he says. “There are so many important stories to be shared, told and celebrated across Turtle Island through the mediums of literature, film, music, dance and oral storytelling.”

Armstrong and Paul are among a number of notable Indigenous alumni who have graduated from the Writing department over the years, including the award-winning likes of Haisla & Heiltsuk novelist Eden Robinson and multidisciplinary Tłı̨chǫ Dene author Richard Van Camp — both of whom originally came from the En’owkin Centre program — plus Métis & Trinidadian poet Cara-Lyn Morgan, and Xaxli’p & Métis freelance journalist Jenessa Joy Klukas, to name a few.

“We now have specific generations of Indigenous writers: there’s the writers of Jeannette’s era and the writers of my own generation, plus new writers like Billy-Ray Belcourt, Joshua Whitehead and Shari Narine,” says Scofield. “As more Canadians become aware of truth and reconciliation, more people are reading works by Indigenous writers and gaining knowledge of our history.”

All are welcome to join in the celebration of the new sxʷiʔe ̕m “To Tell A Story” Indigenous Writers & Storytellers Series, starting at 7:00pm Friday, November 10, in UVic’s First Peoples House.

Orion Series presents Kunji Ikeda

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Kunji Ikeda

Visiting artist


7:30pm Monday, Nov 6

Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, School of Music 

Free & open to all 



Presented by UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts

For more information on this lecture please email: finearts@uvic.ca



Don’t miss this dramatic reading of a new solo work created and performed by current Past Wrong, Future Choices artist-in-residence.

From the creator of the most successful comedy about the Japanese Canadian Internment, Ikeda shares their first draft of this brand new solo performance. Ikeda’s creative signature has been built from a deep trust in joyful rigour, and rigorous joy that has generated their own unique brand of dance / theatre / clown. Inspired by modern day rituals, the psychology of creativity, and classic Japanese Oni (demons), this work invites the audience to consider their own definition of joy.

About Kunji Ikeda

Kunji Ikeda 池田 勲二 (he/they) has spent his life researching the super powers of stories and how they can bring us together. Ikeda is the Artistic Director of Cloudsway Dance Theatre (based in Mohkinstsis / Calgary) and is honoured to be pursuing a life of connection and empathy.
He performs, directs, and dramaturges while following the natural ecology of the performance. They’ve won awards and stuff, but they are more proud of the connections that art has given them – particularly in physical theatre, where they have the greatest capacity to grow physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing within his community. He enjoys climbing trees, classical music, and drinking tea.
For more information and upcoming performances visit www.cloudsway.ca

About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work.

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

Visit our online events calendar at www.events.uvic.ca