The winners of the second annual Ron Lenyk Inspiring Youth Arts Awards were announced at an awards dinner May 30. William Leathers, Pernia Jamshed, Alessia Cole, and Abhishek Iyer were this year’s winners and received awards of $1000 each. Selected by a jury of art professionals and community members from Mississauga, nominees may participate in the following fields: literary arts, media arts, performing arts or visual arts. Nominees are assessed based on their passion and dedication to their chosen field, desire to develop their skills, creativity and artistic vision, the extent to which their work has inspired peers, the extent to which the nominee will benefit from receiving the award, and community impact.

Ron Lenyk was CEO of the Living Arts Centre from 2011 until his passing in 2015. Before that, he was the publisher of The Mississauga News for 31 years. The Living Arts Centre (LAC) created the Ron Lenyk Inspiring Youth Arts Awards to honour Lenyk’s firm and lifelong commitment to his community, generous spirit, advocacy for youth and love of the arts. The awards are intended to support, foster and celebrate young talent in Mississauga and to carry on Lenyk’s dream “to see the excitement on their faces.  And to think one day they will be the performers and artists at the LAC.  I relish the contribution they can make to the community.”

Leathers, age 17, is a pianist and trumpeter. His very impressive list of achievements began at the age of five when he won the Peel Music Festival at the grade 3 piano level.  He was also the youngest trumpeter accepted into both the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Halton Mississauga Youth Orchestra. He plans to pursue his BA, Masters and then PhD in Music after graduating from high school this spring.

Jamshed, age 18, has won municipal, regional and national awards, including The Mississauga Youth Film Festival award for her short film, “This Is My Life.” Jamshed has been dedicated to the arts since her family immigrated to Canada 4 years ago.  In addition to her work in the arts, Jamshed is actively involved in fundraising, student council, and awareness campaigns at Port Credit Secondary School.  She earned acceptance to arts programs at both Ryerson and York this coming fall.

Cohle, age 23, is a country singer-songwriter. She earned a Master of Music in Contemporary Performance from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Spain.  In November 2016, she released her debut album “Talk To Me” and is looking forward to starting a cross-Canada tour this fall.

Iyer, age 25, is a singer, music composer, and producer. After earning a BA from the University of Toronto, he received a full-tuition Slaight Family Foundation scholarship to attend the Metalworks Institute as a vocal major.  In addition to performing and competing locally, Iyer was the winner of Astro International Superstar, a Malaysian televised international singing competition.  He has performed extensively in Asia and has had his work featured on the soundtracks of many Indian films.

Jurors for this year’s awards were Mary Ann Fratia, Course Director in the Faculty of Education at York University and former Arts Coordinator for the Peel District School Board, Ryan Tobin, Assistant General Manager for the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, and Anna Yin, poet and former Poet Laureate for the City of Mississauga.

For details: www.livingartscentre.ca/gallery/ron-lenyk

Photo: the late Ron Lenyk by Stephen Uhraney