Island artists receive grants

Elizabeth Iwunwa says receiving an arts grant feels like a pat on the back.

Iwunwa is among 13 Island artists who recently received a total of $50,000 through the provincial Arts Grants program.  

"Artists often have to choose between either creating meaningful work by bringing esoteric, abstract ideas down to earth or shelving those ideas to focus on more practical livelihood concerns,” says Iwunwa. “For me, receiving this grant feels like a pat on the back, and is an encouragement to win hearts and change minds through the ideas that stories embody. Ultimately, it shows that there is a commitment to arts and culture not only within the community, but also at the highest levels."

The successful applicants were selected by a six-member jury of their arts community peers and follows the same model used by the Canada Council of Arts.

“These grants have a positive impact on Island artists, our cultural sector, and provincial economy, and we’re so proud to support that. Congratulations to all the artists, we look forward to seeing your vision come to fruition.”

- Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Minister Bloyce Thompson

Media contact:
Hillary MacDonald
Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture


Here are the successful arts grants recipients:

Hans Wendt
Visual Arts 
Hans will create a new body of paintings that will explore the struggle between ideas about painting and personal expression. His work will be exhibited at the Michael Gibson Gallery and the Toronto Art Fair in 2023.

Nancy Cai
Nancy’s project will feature PEI oral history and traditional folklore in a full-colour, middle-grade adventure graphic novel. Sorcha and the Wizard's Ring follows a young girl navigating the world of Island Folklore and all its wonders -- and dangers -- as she finds a new side to the home she's always known.

Lawrence Maxwell
Writing and publishing
Max will create a poetry book entitled, “Collection Plates & Slot Machines.” This collection will feature one hundred original poems selected from his unpublished catalogue, of which he’s been writing for the past year, as well as others he will create during a writing period in December 2022.

Elizabeth Iwunwa 
Writing and publishing
Elizabeth will trace the evolution of Black music in Prince Edward Island from its roots as a simple means of expression, to its function as a salve against racial injustice, and as a tool of belonging and community-building. Highlighting the contributions of Black people to PEI’s cultural landscape across several generations will unearth a more accurate story of the Island’s past with a view to cultivating a sense of belonging, legitimacy, and awareness within the Black Islanders and Black musicians living in PEI today. This project will examine what it means for Black people in PEI - whether foreign-born or descendants of enslaved persons - to make music. It will consider themes such as the transplanting of cultures, the role of organized religion, racism and racialization, expansion of genres, and music-making as a signifier of inclusion. This project tackles the problem of documenting Black achievement and history in PEI, particularly, within the arts.

Bren Simmers
Writing and publishing
Bren will write a collection of poetry based on process-based experiments informed by contemporary poetic practices (erasure, cut-ups, sensory logs, daily poems, dice rolling, English-to-English translation, etc.). By inviting risk and restraint into her work, she will subvert habitual ways of constructing a poem, allowing for fresh possibilities to enter her writing.

Ariana Salvo
Writing and Publishing
Ariana will complete her novel Oranges Taste Like Freedom. This is a work of literary fiction about a Greek Cypriot woman and Turkish Cypriot man who discover the journal of a Holocaust survivor who was incarcerated in a Jewish internment camp in Cyprus after her ship to Palestine was intercepted by the British. Joining forces, the two uncover the story of the 52,000 Jews who were imprisoned on their island between 1946 and 1949. In the process they realize that the version of the truth upon which their identity rests is one constructed by outsiders, and that if they want a future that is not defined by division, they are going to have to rewrite their history themselves.

Jacques Arsenault
Jacques will be doing a mentorship in Acadian traditional music with Emmanuelle LeBlanc.

Aaron Comeau
Aaron will compose a large body of new musical works on the piano, documenting the process extensively. This project will explore & develop the improvisation / composition process in great depth.

Melissa Mullen
Film and media arts
Melissa has written the first draft of a feature length screenplay entitled Still Dancing. The proposed project is to work with acclaimed screenwriter/mentor Cynthia Whitcomb for roughly three months in winter 2023 to take the script to its next level.

Lucus MacDonald
Lucus will hand carve 40 unique interference wave patterns onto hand planed walnut wood. These wall hangings will depict the vibrational waves observed on the ceiling, made by sunlight reflecting off water in a frying pan that had been left to soak. With this project he wishes to capture the ephemeral beauty hidden in these transient moments that catch us off-guard.

Lauren Jean Lawlor
Lauren Jean will be writing a play script, CHEESESTRING, exploring the challenges that come with queer dating in rural communities and of dating with a trauma history.

Chloe Dockendorff
Chloe will attend Canada's Ballet Jörgen's 6-week Junior Company program. She will work with international instructors and choreographers to develop technique, artistry, and maturity in her dancing; and she will gain experience through learning and performing company repertoire.

Ashley Cao
Ashley will create a dance piece Same Moon Bright Moon. This dance expresses the day of the year when the moon is the largest, roundest, and brightest, which is the Mid-Autumn Festival in China and is also close to Thanksgiving in Canada. People in different places bathe in the same moonlight and share the joy of harvest. The dance is a fusion of Chinese classical dance and international ballroom dance, integrating elegance, serenity, liveliness, and freedom. An endowment show is planned for September 2023 at the Charlottetown Indoors.

General Inquiries

Department of Fisheries, Tourism, Sport and Culture
Shaw Building
95-105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
North 3rd Floor

Telephone: 902-368-5956