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Video: Richmondites recognized for contributions to arts in the city

Awards ranged from cultural leadership to business and the arts, presented at the Gateway Theatre on Wednesday evening.

The CBC’s Margaret Gallagher was at Gateway Theatre on Wednesday evening, reminiscing how she watched her brother channel their Asian grandfather – Patrick Kwee who was originally from Indonesia - on stage many years ago.

This was in 2001 when her brother Patrick played the strict father in Marty Chan’s play Mom, Dad, I’m Living With a White Girl.

This was just one memory she had from spending time in Richmond either in a personal capacity or covering the arts scene – but she also spoke about how music and art had shaped her life.

Gallagher, who is the host of CBC’s North by Northwest, was the keynote speaker at the annual Richmond arts awards evening, put on by the Richmond Arts Coalition and supported by the City of Richmond.

She ended her keynote address with an Indonesian song in high Javanese called Jineman Mijil, which she learned from her Richmond-based teacher Sustrisno Hartana when she was part of the Javanese gamelan – a large orchestra – at SFU.

On top of the keynote speaker, six individuals and one organization were recognized on Wednesday for their contributions to the Richmond arts community.

Recognitions ranged from arts education to business to leadership.

The evening also included performances from the Canada Y.C. Music Academy, Uganda performer and drummer Edward Sembatya and three pieces by the Richmond Singers, a 50-plus women's choir let by Fabiana Katz.

The event was being held for the 15th time and was emceed by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie who also presented the awards.

The man who co-founded the Cherry Blossom Festival, Dr. Jim Tanaka, was given the cultural leadership award. Tanaka was instrumental in getting the central piece of the cherry tree festival, the 255 Akebono cherry trees, planted at Garry Point Park.

As for the youth award, presented by Cambie choir teacher Iris Chan, this was given to Botao Chen, 24, who is a Richmond photographer.

The volunteerism award also went to a young Richmondite, Gabby Cometa, who previously volunteered with the Richmond Youth Media Program as a DJ, designing posters, editing videos and doing camerawork and photography at various events.

The arts education award was given to two ukulele teachers, Mike Booton and Donna J. Wilson. They started the Ukulele Circles at Steveston Community Centre in 2014.

Nikhat Izhar Qureshi, a visual artist and calligrapher who combines modern techniques with traditional Arabic script, received the artistic innovation and excellence award.

The Steveston Harbour Authority was recognized for its mural program with the Business and the Arts Award. The murals depict the history of fishing in Steveston. The award was accepted by Jaime Gusto, general manager of the harbour authority.

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