In honour of Women’s History Month, the province today celebrated the significant achievements and contributions of women artists in Manitoba at a special reception held at the Legislative Building, Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard, minister responsible for the status of women, has announced. 

Honourable Jennifer Howard

“Manitoba women who have embraced the arts challenge many of society’s deepest assumptions through their personal interpretation, expression and creativity,” said Howard.  “By presenting their unique view of the world around us, the artistic women we are honouring have demonstrated how they can preserve history, reflect our world and shape the future.”  

The 2011 theme is Women in the Arts:  Artists Working for Social Change.  The keynote speaker at this year’s program was multi-disciplinary artist Shawna Dempsey, who is known for her work in performance art, video, film and print.  She is also co-executive director of Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA). 

This year the Manitoba Status of Women Division partnered with MAWA to celebrate eight women whose art has changed the lives of women, families and communities.  Each is a passionate and gifted individual who has inspired meaningful social and political reflection and is an outstanding role model for young, aspiring female artists, the minister said.  

Today’s honourees included Cecilia Araneda for her work in media arts; celebrated craft artist Teresa Burrows; Roewan Crowe for her work in the literary arts; Leah Decter for her accomplishments in the visual arts; accomplished dancer Buffy Handel; Ingrid D. Johnson for her work as an activist and noted singer; Hope McIntyre for her achievements in the performing arts; and Jaime Black, honoured as an emerging multi-disciplinary youth artist. 

At the celebration, Howard also introduced the publication Women in the Arts:  Artists Working for Social Change that highlights the contributions of these eight women.  Copies of the publication are available from the Manitoba Status of Women Division by phone at 204-945-6281 or 1-800-263-0234 (toll-free), by email at [email protected] or online at www.gov.mb.ca/msw/publications

“Manitoba is home to a vibrant group of acclaimed and emerging female artists, as well as mentors, guides, leaders and teachers who encourage and nurture young artists in the community,” said Howard.  “Female artists in Manitoba can be found in all areas of our province where they exert a profound influence on all Manitobans.”  

Today’s event also featured dance performances choreographed by Stephanie Ballard and performed by students from The School of Contemporary Dancers Professional Program and the Drive Dance Company. 

Women’s History Month is held nationally in October to celebrate the advances and contributions of women in all aspects of Canadian society.  Howard said this annual celebration provides an opportunity to recognize the many achievements of women in Manitoba and to reflect on the continuing evolution of women’s roles in today’s society.