Photo: Addie Brown poses with Duncan’s Perpetual Arts Trophy soapstone carving “The Passion”. Addie’s great, great grandfather, C.A. (Bob) Howard, was a Freeman of the City.
– photo by Peter W. Rusland

by Peter W. Rusland

Surprised and humbled is how many local artists, patrons and teachers react when realizing they’ve won the City of Duncan’s Perpetual Arts Trophy.
“I’m flattered to think all my efforts did not go unnoticed,” Cowichan choral master and singer Peter Yelland said after earning the 2017 trophy. “But I didn’t do (teaching and leading choirs) for those (awards) reasons.”

Photo: Cowichan choir master Peter Yelland is presented the City of Duncan’s 2017 Perpetual Arts Trophy by then-councillor Michelle Staples. – photo by Peter W. Rusland

The city’s 22nd-annual Perpetual Arts Trophy will be presented at City Hall on Dec. 2.
Concerti Singers’ choir leader and teacher Sheila Johnson, and her late husband Jim, won the 2018 award.
Sheila, and many others involved in the arts, is proud of the trophy saluting those who expose locals and tourists to valley arts and culture of all genres.
“We’re all under the umbrella of the arts,” Johnson said.
Cowichan boasts one of Canada’s highest per-capita arts ratios that includes visual art, music, dance, drama and writing.
Like Yelland, Sheila was delightfully surprised to win Duncan’s prized arts award after being lured by friends to the City Hall ceremony where the recipient is announced.
“Jim was not one for publicity,” she said of her modest husband and noted singer, “but he would have liked winning this award.”
“I was really honoured to receive it last year. You just carry on day to day doing what you do and suddenly I was being recognized.
“My life is directing my choirs, and it was wonderful realizing people in my community appreciate that.”
The arts award is now endorsed by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council. The award was created in 1997 by the now-defunct, arts-friendly Cowichan News Leader Pictorial newspaper.
The winner receives a piece of original local art.
The honour is presented annually in chambers during Duncan’s December inaugural ceremony.
The winner is privately picked by Duncan councillors from among public nominations. That person or group is presented the arts trophy, alongside winners of the city’s sports trophy, Scroll of Honour, and Freeman of the City honours.
Names of arts trophy winners are mounted on a plaque in council chambers’ lobby, and on the base of an imposing soapstone trophy piece titled “The Passion”.
That work was carved by local artist Eric Knoll in 1997.
The trophy’s first recipient was Leslie Sjoberg of the renowned Cowichan Music Festival and Friends of the Cowichan Theatre.
Her honour heralded many other winners including Medford Singers founder Bev Medford (1999), painter Pat Fischer (2000), late Cowichan Theatre manager and culture-vulture Roger Sparkes (2002), Cowichan Secondary School art teacher and artist Lynda Faulks (2003), Duncan master painter E. J. Hughes (2004), music impresario Longevity John Falkner (2005), First Nations artist Stuart Pagaduan (2009), multi-media artist Glenn Spicer (2010), Cowichan Folk Guild founders Deb Make and Mike Ballantyne (2011), and filmmaker Nick Versteeg (2014).
Nomination papers are available at city hall and online until nominations close each year in late September.