MASC Arts Awards is a celebration of students in Grades 6 to 8 who are passionate, creative and would benefit from support to explore their artistic development outside the school setting. This year’s awards presentation is hosted by Stefan Keyes and features a special performance by Honorary Patron and MASC artist Claudia Salguero.

The 5 winners – to be announced at the 22nd MASC Arts Awards on Friday, May 12, 2023, at the National Arts Centre – will receive a year-long scholarship to pursue studies in their art discipline with: Allegro Music Schools; Ottawa Children’s Theatre; Ottawa School of Art; The School of Dance; and mentorship with local author, Laurie Gough. A free MASC workshop will be offered to the class of each winning student.

Two more awards will be presented at this gala event. The Molly Ellens Award, named for a beloved volunteer, offers a generous supply of visual arts materials to a young artist. The Jennifer Cayley Award, named for MASC’s co-founder, is awarded to a previous MASC Arts Award winner who, years later, still incorporates the arts into their everyday life: this year the recipient is Leticia Alvarez, who received the Literary Arts Award ten years ago.

Earlier this year, Ottawa-Gatineau teachers were invited to nominate students for these awards, according to the following criteria: the student demonstrates an exceptional passion for the arts; and the student has had limited opportunities for arts education beyond the school setting. All nominated students (24 in total, listed below) will receive awards designed by Aurora Finkle, a Plains Cree artist from Peepeekisis First Nation.

This year’s award is designed by Aurora Finkle, a local singer, songwriter, visual artist, and Indigenous craftsperson. She is Plains Cree from Peepeekisis First Nation.

Aurora participated in the 2022-2023 MASC Reconciliation Legacy Indigenous Internship that pairs emerging Indigenous artists with MASC artists to collaborate on school and community projects that include Indigenous content and teachings.

“Writing hasn’t just been weaved into my life, it’s been the driving factor behind most things. I don’t go more than two days without writing something, or I feel like something is off kilter. Who knows if I’d still be at it, if you hadn’t believed in me then. I have no idea what my life would look like otherwise. You really did just handover a box of absolute happiness, faith, and opportunity, to a thirteen-year-old on the cusp of discovering something really incredible. The night of the MASC Arts Awards event, I told my parents, ‘I feel like an empty glass and tonight was just a jug of happiness being poured in until it overflowed.’ What a gift. There’s so many more things I could say, but for now, I just want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Leticia Alvarez, MASC Literary Arts Award Winner 2013

Leticia Alvarez currently studies at the University of Aukland and recently won the New Zealand Red Cross International Humanitarian Law contest – and met former prime minister Jacinda Ardern – for a short story she wrote.

This year she receives the Jennifer Cayley Award for continuing to incorporate the arts into her everyday life.

“I had recently joined [a theatre] school on scholarship through an arts education organization called MASC and had way less formal training than my peers. It was pivotal because I realized my life opportunities didn’t have to be limited by my financial circumstances.”

Stefan Keyes, MASC Theatre Award Winner 2000

#DidYouKnow that CTV Ottawa news anchor Stefan Keyes was one of the first students to win a MASC Arts Award?

Nowadays Stefan stays involved with MASC’s Board of Directors and hosts this year’s MASC Arts Awards.