Ontario Arts Council celebrates big 5 – 0


Break out the champagne! The Ontario Arts Council is turning 50.

In a news release, the council said its establishing legislation was given final reading in the Ontario Legislature on this day in 1963, setting up an arts funding body to foster the creation and production of art for the benefit of all Ontarians.

“What started as an idea from a small group of committed volunteers has grown to support a province-wide arts infrastructure that not only contributes to our quality of life but also provides crucial economic benefits,” said OAC chair Martha Durdin in the release.

Last year, the council funded 1,681 artists and 1,125 organizations in support of the creation of more than 12,000 new artistic works.

The OAC assists writers, storytellers and spoken-word artists through its Literature programs, and encourages the development, publication and presentation of new works of literary significance in the province.

Its publishing programs help book publishers develop, print, promote and distribute new literary work, and support magazines that showcase Canadian writers and provide critical commentary on arts and culture. In addition, its Literature Office funds festivals and reading series that present the work of Ontario’s literary writers and publishers.

In coming months, many OAC funding recipients across the province will be marking the birthday with special activities.



Ajax girds for influx of writers


There are just a few days left to register for the 2013 Ontario Writers’ Conference at the Deer Creek Golf and Banquet Facility in Ajax next month.

The event kicks off on Friday, May 3 with master classes for experienced writers from 1 to 4 p.m., followed by the Festival of Authors from 7 to 10 p.m. The Festival, which is open to the public, features emcee Ted Barris of Uxbridge and guest readers Miranda Hill, Ray Robertson and Susan Swan.

On Saturday, May 4, registered participants will enjoy a day of workshops and lectures, wrapped up by closing speaker Deborah Kimmett.

To register by the April 24 deadline, visit the Conference website. For the non-registered public, tickets for the Festival of Authors are $20 and available online at the conference website or by e-mailing info@thewritersconference.com.

Poetry hits chord at Trillium book fest


The night sang with poetry this week as Ontario presented its Trillium book awards at a dinner in Toronto.

Poet Phil Hall of Perth took home a $20,000 prize as winner of the Trillium Book Award in English-language. His book, Killdeer, was published by BookThug of Toronto. Killdeer also received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry last fall and was short-listed for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize.

In the separate English-language poetry category, honours went to Toronto’s Nick Thran and his publisher Nightwood Editions for Earworm.

Ottawa writer Michèle Vinet’s managed to crack the line-up with her novel Jeudi Novembre, which was named best French-language book. Fellow Ottawa resident Sonia Lamontagne’s quickly re-versed the theme, however, with À tire d’ailes, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in French-language.

Sudbury’s Editions Prise de parole was the publisher for both French-language winners.

The Wednesday event marked the 25th anniversary of the awards. As part of the celebrations, Open Book ran a public contest to select the favourite French and English titles from the previous 24 years’ winners. From a list of public picks, a celebrity critics’ panel selected Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient (McClelland & Stewart) as their favourite in the English language category. A panel of students from The Toronto French School, meanwhile, selected Les Rebuts : Hockey 2 by Paul Prud’Homme (Les Éditions du Vermillon) as the best of the best in the French language.

Trillium Book Award winners each receive $20,000, while their publishers receive $2,500 toward their promotional costs. The two Poetry Award winners each receive $10,000 and their publishers receive $2,000. All finalists receive a $500 honorarium.