The Arts Council of the Central Okanagan announced this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award is Joan Panton Williams, performing arts advocate and founder of Sunshine Theatre Society.
After 20 years of experience as a professional actor, Williams returned to Kelowna, the town she was raised in, and in 1977 founded Sunshine Theatre, a local professional theatre company known for its summer productions and for providing professional theatrical training for all ages.
“At first, a rope kept the small audience at the front of the theatre, but as success built and the audience grew, that rope had to be moved further and further to the back of the theatre,” said awards chair Sharon McCoubrey in a press release.
Within 12 years of operation, Sunshine Theatre became the largest professional summer theatre west of Winnipeg, employing over 60 artists, designers, production staff and student apprentices and servicing over 34,000 visitors per year.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an artist or arts supporter on the basis of their overall contributions to the arts. McCoubrey credits Williams and Sunshine Theatre as key players in the development of Kelowna’s vibrant performing arts community, “Even though there are a variety of kinds of theatre performances in Kelowna and area now, Sunshine Theatre was a strong start that set a high standard. We are thankful to Joan Panton Williams for making this happen.”
Meet Williams as well as the other recipients of this year’s Okanagan Arts Awards this Saturday, March 28 at the 2015 Okanagan Arts Awards. The evening will feature a formal nominees’ reception and a spectacular Showcase Performance, along with the Awards presentations, hosted once again by CBC’s Gillianne Richards and Chris Walker.
At the Awards, the winners were presented with an original award created by Kamloops artist Dennis Kound.
Tickets for the 2015 Okanagan Arts Awards are available at the box office in the Rotary Centre for the Arts, and online at www.selectyourtickets.com