Lynne Leydier views her Lifetime Achievement award given to her at the first Penticton and District Arts Awards as one shared with the community.
“The awards was a great thing for the whole arts community. It lets everyone know all of the people out there doing all this amazing work,” said Leydier. “It really pulls it all together and makes it more conscious in your brain of all the people with amazing talent in our community and shows appreciation for what they do.”
Leydier, also the recipient of the Theatre award, first came to Penticton 25 years ago, directing a production for the Penticton Singers and Players. While also a performer she instructed students and eventually took on Soundstage Productions. One of her biggest passions, though, is furthering the facilities the community offers. When she first arrived to Penticton the Cleland Theatre had space that was unusable for certain productions. The theatre didn’t have wings and the orchestra pit wasn’t open.
“I see a need and get inspired to find a way to help fulfill that need. I know we can do something to improve the situation and at the same time give opportunities to students at the same time,” said Leydier. “I am really proud of the work through Soundstage that contributed to the Cleland. Very quickly we said let’s try and fix that and in turn open up opportunities for everyone.”
Outside of fundraisers and teaching, Leydier find an exciting way to allow students and Okanagan performers explore their abilities outside of competition.
“Soundstage has become this wonderful format to pool together talent and I love pulling people together. It is not just musicians, students or actors, there is the sound technicians and lighting people to construction and artists,” she said. “Working with so many people of different backgrounds is probably the coolest thing of all. I love to give people challenges and an opportunity to develop their talents.”
Leydier praised the Penticton Arts Council for putting the awards together.
“I know a lot of the people nominated and have either worked with them or they are past students. All of them are amazing people. This is a good move by the council to showcase the talent that exists,” said Leydier
Lynn Allin, administrator of the Penticton Arts Council, said the board of directors worked on the inaugural event for four months and learned a lot of things going forward for planning next year’s awards.
“I was completely thrilled with the first Arts Awards evening. About 200 people attended and the energy in the room was overwhelming,” said Allin. “The award recipients were positively supported by the audience and there was such a strong feeling of pride for all the nominees and their commitment to the arts community.”
Allin said the panel of judges had their work cut out for them because all the nominees in the 11 categories were “remarkable.”
“It is without a doubt the calibre of artistic talent in our local artists is second to none,” she said.
But it is not just about the talent, it is also the people who stand behind it. Donna Schellenberg received an award as a Supporter of the Arts.
“She is a very impressive woman dedicated to the arts and culture community in Penticton,” said Allin.
Schellenberg sang at an early age as both a soloist and in choirs, she continues to be a proud member of the Penticton Tune-Agers. For over 50 years she has served with the Penticton Community Concerts (from president, to committee chairs to subscription worker) and has been involved with the Okanagan Symphony Society for just as long. At present she is chair of the endowment committee for OSS which is managed by The Community Foundation and she encourages friends and fellow symphony supporters to consider donating to.
Schellenberg is involved on the board of the South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre and was appointed to the arts and culture advisory board for the City of Penticton.
All award recipients are being forwarded as nominees to the seventh annual Okanagan Arts Awards held on March 22 in Kelowna.