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Regina, Saskatchewan – Noted conductor, composer, producer and First Nations arts and education activist, John Kim Bell, will join the City of Regina to salute the arts as the featured Keynote Speaker at the 4th annual Regina Mayor’s Arts and Business Awards (MABA). The Awards ceremony will take place on April 17, from 12:00 noon to 1:30 P.M. at the Conexus Art Centre in Regina Saskatchewan.
John Kim Bell studied music and was conducting Broadway musicals In New York for such luminaries as Gene Kelly, Lauren Bacall and Vincent Price at the age of 18. He went on to study with legendary conductors Leonard Bernstein and Franco Ferrara and became the world’s first symphony conductor of First Nations ancestry. Mr. Bell served as Apprentice Conductor of the Toronto Symphony and Apprentice Conductor to Zubin Mehta at the New York Philharmonic.In 1985, Mr. Bell founded the Canadian Native Arts Foundation to provide financial support to Aboriginal artists. This effort pre-dated the existence of any other national Aboriginal arts funding body including the Canada Council or Ontario Arts Council.
Mr. Bell built the Foundation through a series of unprecedented high profile concerts and productions that secured corporate sponsorship, a first for the Aboriginal community.
He promoted Aboriginal performing artists in major concerts across Canada that also featured world renowned performers such as Bernadette Peters and the Manhattan Transfer. Mr. Bell presented the unknown Shania Twain in her first major Toronto appearance in 1987.
In 1988, Mr. Bell produced, co-composed, directed, and conducted the first-ever full scale aboriginal dance production, In the Land of Spirits, which premiered at the National Arts Centre. The production’s success led to a national tour in 1992 which achieved excellent reviews and a significant profit for the Foundation. In 1993, he established the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, a national awards system celebrating career achievement in the aboriginal community. As the Executive Producer, Mr. Bell produced the first eleven productions on CBC television and is noted for his spectacular set designs. He won a Gemini Award and two international awards from the Broadcast Designers Association for his stunning sets. In 1996, he received the Bronze Prize for his cavern set in Winnipeg and the Gold Prize for his glass pyramid set in Calgary. For the gala event Mr. Bell presented and promoted Aboriginal dancers, performers and singers.
Observing that Aboriginal organizations could not afford to collect and promote their own art, Mr. Bell also supported Aboriginal visual artists by building perhaps the only Aboriginal owned native art collection over a period of 20 years.
Mr. Bell evolved his Foundation into the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and raised approximately $80 million over twenty years. During his tenure, his Foundation provided over 20 million in scholarships to Aboriginal students pursuing education in the arts, business, sciences, and medicine.
In recognition of his profound contributions he has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, the Royal Bank Award For Canadian Achievement, and six Honorary Doctorates. He was named the outstanding cultural arts leader in Canada in 2003, when he was bestowed the Keith Kelly Award by the Canadian Conference of the Arts.
“I’m simply honoured to join the city of Regina in support of the arts,” said Mr. Bell. “I truly believe that this awards system makes a profound difference in bridging strong relationships within the arts and business communities. I commend the city of Regina for this important initiative.”
Via the MABA program the city of Regina promotes culture and art as a key characteristic of a sustainable community by celebrating individuals and businesses that support the arts via their investment. Each year the MABA program recognizes artists, businesses, art managers, arts organizations, innovative art projects, volunteers and partnerships.
“This is an important way to recognize those people and groups who have enriched our community through their excellence, creativity and substantial contributions to the arts,” said Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco.
Mr. Bell has also been invited to speak to the student bodies of Campbell Collegiate and Kitchener Community School.
His comments will be broadcast live over the internet at 9:15 a.m. Thursday April 17th at http://ecast.scn.ca
Mr. Bell is currently Senior Advisor, Aboriginal Affairs, with Brookfield Renewable Power and CEO of Bell & Bernard Limited, a management consulting company focused on First Nations economic development. He is also an Intervenor representing National Chief Phil Fontaine in Ontario’s Integrated Power Systems Plan process.
For further information about John Kim bell please contact:
Ms. Trina Moyan
Director of Communications, Bell & Bernard Limited
ph: 416.481.2499 or email: trinamoyan @ bellbernard.com (no spaces)
www.bellbernard.com and www.johnkimbell.com.
For more information about the Regina Mayor’s Arts & Business Awards please contact:
Ms. Jennie Avram
Avram Events Inc
ph: 306 525 1878 fx: 306 757 6567
email: jensjet @ sasktel.net (no spaces)
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