Updates from Culture & Events

City of Nanaimo // MAY 2023

Gratitude is the theme for 2023 City of Nanaimo Street Banners 
An interview with the artist, Sebastian Abboud


Q: The 2023 street banner theme was “Gratitude.” Our intention with selecting that as a theme was to consider what we have collectively been through over the past few years and what we can be grateful for as we move forward. I’m curious about your inspirations for this design, beyond just the thematic requirements. What sparked this idea for you?

A: This design started with a small pencil sketch of the heart/flower and grew from there. I was inspired by community, my family, and Nanaimo, and strived to create a bold, iconic and clear, playful graphic representation of gratitude for love and growth. It was important to me that the piece feel optimistic and representative of change, so a gradient blend background was a suitable choice.

            Image: Concept image, Gratitude, 2023, by Sebastian Abboud

Q: I understand this is the first time your design has been selected for the street banner competition – congratulations! Has there been anything about the process that has surprised you?

A: Thanks! I was surprised by the size of the larger banners... When we were reviewing the printed proofs, seeing them at full size really put the scale into perspective. I’m excited to see them displayed around town.


Q: You are also an artist on the City of Nanaimo’s inaugural Urban Design Roster. How has your experience been as part of that program? Can you tell us a little about the projects you’ve worked on, and if you have had a favorite?

A:  It’s been fun so far, I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone’s art around town. I’ve worked on illustrations for four utility boxes downtown, and one by the hospital – I like them all! Happy to see such a diverse roster of artists and a broad selection of pieces being commissioned by the City.


Q: Lastly, what inspired you to become an artist? Do you have any advice for aspiring artists/designers?

A: Through skateboarding, I was exposed to a wide range of artwork — on decks, t-shirts, and even to the logos on shoes — all of this had an impact on me, and inspired me early on. Skateboarding really opened up my eyes to art, creativity, and self-expression. My advice would be just to make a lot of stuff. Create a lot of different kinds of work in a wide range of mediums, when you’re getting started. Experimentation is everything. Create work that resonates with you, feels good, and is fun. You’ll find your way!


More about the Urban Design Roster


The Urban Design Roster Program offers artists and designers an opportunity to be involved in civic urban design and small-scale artwork related to city infrastructure. The Urban Design Roster is a list of artists who wish to be contacted to work with the City’s Public Art team and other City departments such as Traffic/Transportation, Engineering and Public Works. Projects are activated on an ongoing basis, in relation to opportunities arising from infrastructure renewals, upgrades and maintenance.

Culture Awards Return to the Port Theatre
A photo and video review of the 2023 Gala Event

Culture Awards images, clockwise from top left: Elder Lolly Good & Councillor Emmy Manson, Vesna Ukrainian Dancers, Vibrant Dance Studio, Roots & Grooves.  Photo credit: Sean Fenzl

In partnership with the Port Theatre, the City of Nanaimo was proud to once again present the 2023 Culture Awards, LIVE and in person on April 25th.  We were honoured to come together with our community not only to celebrate our phenomenal award winners Joel Good and Margot Holmes, but to also acknowledge those who were honoured during the pandemic years.  The event was nothing short of exhilirating for our team!  

The 2023 Excellence in Culture Award Winner, Joel Good, was recognized for his extensive work and achievements in visual art. He is a traditional Coast Salish artist from Snuneymuxw First Nation, well-known for several inspiring local public art installations.  Learn more about Joel's work, below!

The 2023 Honour in Culture Award Winner, Margot Holmes, was recognized for her long-time career as the Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Island Symphony, promoting Canadian culture and championing the performing arts community for over three decades.  A dynamic supporter of veteran and emerging artists alike, you can get to know Margot through her tribute video, below!

Videography credits: ReWild Us Media

Honourees and audience members enjoyed an evening of reminiscence and looking to the future through song, dance, and spoken word as a diverse display of Nanaimo's vibrant cultural talent took to the stage.  This year's awards presented to recipients were works by JoVic Pottery (see image below).

                                    Image: 2023 Culture Award - JoVic Pottery 

Announcing the 2023 Temporary Public Art projects!
Works by David Martinello, Amber Morrison and Matthew Fox

Compelling Agency by David Martinello

David Martinello is a Vancouver Island based artist and his proposal, "Compelling Agency", draws attention to the connective value that humans have to wood as a resource. The artist’s intention with his artwork is to have the viewer thoughtfully evaluate their relationship to wood and, in turn, their relationship to their environment while they observe the natural weathering and evolution of this intriguing structural piece during its years on display.

Moon Snail House by Amber Morrison and Matthew Fox

Artist and educator, Amber Morrison, and 3D artist, Matthew Fox, based out of Nanaimo, will captivate passersby with the interactive artwork, "Moon Snail House". The design of the structure will invite admirers to explore this visually appealing, large-scale interactive sculpture. Educational signage will provide information about the Lewis’ moon snail (neverita lewisii) and the intertidal zones of the Salish Sea.

Once created and installed (locations to be determined), it is expected that these two new artworks will be on display for public enjoyment for up to five years.

More about Temporary Public Art

Poet Laureate term extended
Kamal Parmar to continue in role until 2024

Image: Poet Laureate, Kamal Parmar reads at the 2023 Cultural Awards.  Photo credit: Sean Fenzl

In recognition of her hard work and the significant challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented for her work as Poet Laureate, the City of Nanaimo is extending Kamal Parmar's term by one additional year. We look forward to continuing to work with Kamal in this role until August of 2024. Stay tuned for future program announcements, dates of future poetry readings, and an upcoming call for Nanaimo's next Youth Poet Laureate! We look forward to providing the yet-to-be-selected Youth Poet Laureate with the opportunity to work alongside Kamal as they begin their term – it will definitely be a valuable mentorship opportunity in the literary arts.

More about the Poet Laureate

Get involved with Art Agora
Program continues until August 2023

Welcome to Art Agora - a digital platform to build community through acts of creation and care.  A series of monthly activations run until August with each one bringing out a unique perspective and a different craft.  There are also prizes to be won!  Register via your PRC Perfect Mind account or by calling 250-756-5200.

More about Art Agora

Our welcome, our congratulations, and our thanks!
Staff update - Culture & Events

L-R: Taylor Eshelby, Image credit - Craig Letourneau; Megan Lum, Image credit – Rachel Kirk Photography;
Michelle Palmer, Image credit – Jonah Ferguson

Welcome to Taylor Eshelby, who joins the Culture & Events team for the summer season to assist and gain experience on the Special Events side of what we do! Taylor is currently a third year student at Vancouver Island University studying a Bachelor of Tourism with a major in Recreation. Taylor has grown up in Nanaimo and has loved living on beautiful Vancouver Island. He has a passion for watching and playing sports, his favorite being hockey. Taylor enjoys going on hikes with his friends and family and visiting different cafes to sample the delicious taste of local coffee. Taylor's experience with the City of Nanaimo started with working as a gym attendant with drop in programs at Oliver Woods, moving into his current position as a Co-op student with Culture & Events. After graduation, he would like to pursue a career in Special Event planning with a recreation focus, or facility management in recreation.

Megan Lum, previously the City’s Recreation Coordinator – Cultural Services, has accepted the position of Recreation Coordinator – Special Events. All systems are go for another high energy season in our beautiful city by the sea! Megan filled the Special Events role temporarily when she first joined the Culture & Events team, and she has returned to her roots as we venture further into post-pandemic event life. Megan has a background that combines a Degree in Recreation and Health Education with undergrad courses in Art History. As a Coordinator with the Recreation and Culture Department she has over 15 years of experience. In her spare time, Megan is also a wife and mother of two, a team-sport player, and a seamstress...with an affinity for all that sparkles. Congratulations, Megan! You make our events sparkle, too.

Michelle Palmer is a Vancouver Island University grad from the Tourism Management program that joined the City’s Culture & Events team last June. During her time with us Michelle had a whirlwind of experiences with planning municipal events in parks and open spaces and supporting various organizations in their development and implementation of events. Michelle has immensely enjoyed her time with Culture & Events – and she was recently honoured as a nominee in the Emerging Leader category at the 2023 Canadian Event Awards!

We are extremely proud of Michelle and we’re thrilled that she has received this national recognition. Although Michelle is about to embark on a new adventure overseas, her plan is to continue a career in Special Events. She is very grateful for the time she has had with the City and cannot thank the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department enough for providing such an amazing opportunity. Thank you, and bon voyage, Michelle!


Remembering Rebecca Buckler

Shortly after our last publication, we received tremendously sad news that our former Culture and Events Clerk, Rebecca Buckler, had passed suddenly and unexpectedly.  Many of our readers would have had the pleasure of knowing Rebecca through her many years of service supporting the City's Arts, Culture & Heritage initiatives.  Rebecca’s contributions to our division and to the culture community at large were significant, and her absence is keenly felt by those who benefitted from her knowledge, professionalism, humour and her unending kindness. Our hearts go out to Rebecca's family and friends.

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