Home >> Essays 2006 Saidye Bronfman Award acceptance speech
2006 Saidye Bronfman Award acceptance speech

tjbronfmanI've got a brother who is a phone hoax specialist and has hoodwinked everybody in my family at one time or another posing as a cop, salesman, client, beautician, Julia Childs ... you name it. As a result I'm a bit slow to believe phone calls bearing unlikely news.

For that and other reasons, when I got the big call, it took a while for it to seem possible that I'd been selected for the legendary Bronfman Award. I couldn't entirely believe that it wasn't a hoax or a mistake.

I owe many, many, thanks. First to my nominators, the New Brunswick Craft Council. Thanks to Trudy Gallagher, the president of the council, and especial thanks to Kate Rogers, the executive director, who quarterbacked putting the application together.

I'd like to emphasize the importance that support from publicly funded arts grants and awards has made in my life and how essential they have been for me at critical times in my career. Grant and award funding has allowed me to pursue goals that would have been beyond my means otherwise, which have enriched my creative abilities, allowed me to experiment and not have to gear my entire artistic production toward sales. I have been able to achieve these goals with aid from, among others, the Canada Council for the Arts, The New Brunswick Arts Board, The New Brunswick Arts Branch, ACOA, the National Research Council, as well as private foundations and arts patrons.

A successful career in the arts requires a great deal of risk taking and a lot of support and nurturing. Without grant support I wouldn't be here today. I am not unusual in having benefited from and at times having been reliant on grant support. Public funding and support for cultural endeavours is a sign of a healthy nation.

Arts grants are an indicator of a functional society, not a sign of cultural inadequacy. I'd like to express my deep thanks to the grant funding institutions of this great country. I hope that I've been able to make a cultural contribution commensurate with their support.

pbronfmanA career in the arts doesn't happen in a void. I have had a great deal of support and help from parents, siblings, my son, mentors, friends, colleagues and most of all the usually patient encouragement of my wife Beth. The people of New Brunswick have been wonderfully supportive of what I do, even if occasionally baffled, and formed the solid base from which I have pursued a career in the arts. I can't begin to enumerate all the people who have been important to my life and career and I'm terrified that by trying to list some of them I'll miss others, there are just so many, they know who they are.

I also wish to thank the galleries that have been so crucial to my survival and growth as an artist. There have been many but I especially have to thank Sandra Ainsley and Elena Lee for their friendship and support.

I feel privileged to be part of the tribe assembled for this occasion. Certainly the biggest influences in my life beyond my family have been fellow toilers in the arts. To receive this award juried by my peers is an honour beyond measure.

Finally, I'd like to thank the Award partners. The Samual and Saidye Bronfman Foundation, The Canadian Museum of Civilization, and the Canada Council for the Arts. The Canadian Museum of Civilization plays an essential role in mounting contemporary and historical exhibitions and building historically important collections. The Canada Council is the flag ship of public arts organizations and it does an enormous amount of very important work across the country for artists and the organizations and institutions that support the arts. The Bronfmans through the Saidye Bronfman Award and in many other ways make it possible for us to honour one of our kind each year. I am thrilled to see my work amongst the work of other Saidye Bronfman Award recipients and craftspeople from coast-to-coast in the exhibition, Unique, and to be included in the Museum's collection.

The SaidyeBronfman Award has been a wonderful encouragement to us all and has enormously enriched the cultural landscape of Canada.

Thank you.