Congratulations to our 2021 scholarship recipients!

Place des Arts awards annual scholarships to help students in their pursuit of excellence in the visual, literary and performing arts. This year, we awarded $3,900 to 10 deserving students in music, literary and theatre arts in recognition of their artistic excellence and achievement. Find out more about them below by clicking on their names and see their fantastic performances!

Jared Batac Co, Theatre

Jaslene Binuhe, Music

Royceton Breitkreuz, Visual Arts

Dayton Chan, Music

Yvette Dunham, Theatre

Bella Han, Music

Natalie Owen, Music

Kayla Price, Music

Natalia Sawyer, Music

Ariel Wang, Theatre

Jared Batac Co, Theatre

Teacher: Seamus Fera | Place des Arts Scholarship


Age: 15

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    I began taking classes at Place des Arts when I was in kindergarten but when I was 7 I joined a formal theatre arts program with Coquitlam Stagecoach. I continued with the program for 7 years and then came upon Ms. Jessie’s post about the Coquitlam Youth Theatre (CYT) and it piqued my interest. I wanted to further my training and I returned to Place des Arts where I am now in my third year with CYT and looking forward to my 4th.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    My role model is my mother, for various reasons. She is confident enough to get what she wants but is also considerate and kind enough to concede to those who need it. She always treats everyone with kindness and makes sure to always help others. She is smart and dedicated, not afraid of doing overtime or extra work to get the job done.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this art form?
    Well, there are many reasons, but the main one is, quite frankly, that it is just really fun for me. It allows me to be expressive and de-stress from the day, and I really enjoy it. I also like performing for others, and giving people joy and happiness, even if only for a little bit. I can only hope to do this more and have more opportunities to entertain and express myself as I improve my skills and become a better actor.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    Other than helping me towards my registration next year, this scholarship makes me feel happy that my work has somehow caught the attention of people I respect.
    I feel like what I am doing is important and something that is worth pursuing. Winning this scholarship inspires me to do more, learn more and grow more. This also helps me to cherish my passion more and deepens my appreciation for theatre.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    My teacher, Mr. Seamus, has helped me dramatically over the course of my time in CYT. He has helped me embrace characters more physically, he has helped me to always make big choices and to not be afraid to make mistakes. He has motivated me to always strive for the better. Overall, he has made me into a better actor than I was before and has inspired me to push my own boundaries and grow into giving better performances.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    My favourite memory of Place des Arts was when CYT performed Dear Edwina at the Inlet Theatre, where one of my castmates lost a particular sock puppet that was never found to this day. I also have fond memories of a hard couch that I thought was soft, much to my painful surprise.
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    Place des Arts has inspired me to go big and not be insecure when I am performing. Studying at Place des Arts has given me the platform to make big choices, and to not be afraid of making mistakes, as long as I can also learn from them. Being here and pursuing what I enjoy has inspired me to work hard, get better and do what I can to not let down my fellow castmates in our efforts to put on the best show possible. This award has inspired me to do even better so that I can hopefully show that I was a good decision for the scholarship.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    I have been taking classes with Place des Arts since I was in Mr. I’s Musical Rainbow class and so Place des Arts has been a big part of my childhood and a place that I have always felt happy and secure. I have fond memories of the various Day of the Arts camps I have attended as well as the Spring and Summer break camps that I have enjoyed. I still have the “art” around my house as souvenirs and at least some of the FISH slips.  There are also a few years in which I found myself or my artwork on the program catalogues and that was pretty cool. Since then, I have also taken other programs at PdA and just last year I was in the Youth Arts Council too. I have also volunteered in various events at the centre and I take pride in being an active part of the Place des Arts community. In short, coming to Place des Arts makes me feel happy, safe, secure, nurtured, encouraged and inspired to learn.  I feel a sense of belonging and acceptance and I am grateful.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    This year has definitely been a more challenging one for us. COVID-19 restrictions really impacted our end-of-year show last June and unfortunately, we were not able to put on the show that we were hoping to have. We did the best that we could and our teachers really tried to minimize the impact but we all felt it and it has been difficult to not notice how different things are this year. We have not been able to perform for our family or tour the schools the way we have done in the past. We were not even able to meet regularly the way that we used to and that was sad because I looked forward to being able to see and interact with my friends each week. Online was just a bit different and I did miss being able to meet more in person. Wearing the masks, face shields, the social distancing and remembering to do the check-ins all felt a bit weird too but at least it gave us the chance to see each other. I do feel proud of the work we all did for the Honey Files though because I felt it was especially relevant to what we and many other youths like us were probably going through and feeling this pandemic year. For us at CYT, I feel like it gave us all a chance to explore different characters as well and I, for one, felt myself dig a little deeper.  If our work is able to help even one person feel less alone and less worried in these times then I feel that is already more than worthwhile. Unfortunately, we will not be able to perform our second show at the theatre as well but I am glad to have had CYT to help me get through these past fifteen months.  I look forward to being able to get back to a better sense of normal in September.

Jaslene Binuhe, Music

Teacher: Monica Han | Elliott Harty Piano Scholarship


Age: 14

  1. When and how did you get started practising your art form?
    I started playing piano just over three years ago, taking lessons from a family friend. I originally started so that I would be able to play a simple accompaniment while I sang because I used to take vocal lessons. However, I became interested in classical music and felt like I wanted to try actual piano lessons instead of just learning how to
    play chords. My parents then enrolled me in lessons at Place des Arts, where I started off in level 5, and since then it has been almost three years.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    My role model is my professor, Dr. Monica Han. She has helped greatly and inspires me. She is the main reason I have developed such a strong passion for piano. Her style of playing is graceful and enthralling, different from most pianists I’ve heard. Listening to her play is enough to make me persevere to reach her level of expertise. Above all, she is hard-working and humble despite her success and talent.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this art form?
    I am motivated to continue playing the piano because of the praise I receive from my professor, family and friends as well as my high results in exams and competitions. In the short amount of time I’ve been playing piano, I feel that I have grown very fast, and it improves my confidence whenever someone tells me I play well or when I receive good results. Praise like this makes me realize I have a talent for music which I should continue to develop.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    Winning this scholarship has made me feel much more confident about my playing and style. I believe that this will encourage me to expand on my skills and push myself beyond my limits as I continue my musical education. This scholarship in itself was a huge goal for me, and now that I have received it, I will slowly reach for bigger goals as I improve.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    My teacher has helped me achieve my goals by constantly pushing me outside my comfort zone. She always convinces me to participate in competitions or recitals and the pieces I learn with her are usually above my RCM level. This helps me feel more comfortable and confident in my abilities and I am always able to achieve my goals of
    placing well in competitions or playing a difficult piece very well.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    My favourite memory of Place des Arts is my first recital, although I was a bundle of nerves and my hands were freezing. Seeing so many people was overwhelming, and listening to the performances of the other students only made me more anxious. Everyone seemed so calm and collected even though I knew they were probably just as nervous as I was. When I got up for my turn, I could feel my mind going blank, and I panicked, but the second I started, my hands knew exactly what to do, and I pushed myself through all my mistakes and pauses until I was finally finished. That experience was terrifying, but I was
    proud of myself for facing my fears and coming out with a performance that I was content with.
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    Place des Arts has such a welcoming atmosphere, and it’s really wonderful to hear so many different forms of music echoing through the halls and to pass all the art on display. There’s so much talent in one building and it inspires you to do your best in your art.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    My strongest feeling when I come to Place des Arts is familiarity. After about a year the contrasting music becomes comforting and you start to recognize different students singing or playing an instrument. Even walking the halls to your classroom you notice the different art on the walls.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your arts education?
    The most significant effect the pandemic has had on my arts education is limiting the amount of in-person lessons I can have. Going to Place des Arts in person is much more intimate and it’s definitely more fun walking through the halls after a good practice session and observing the talent in the building. The quality of the lessons is also much better when it’s in person, simply because I can ask questions easily and play smoothly without any technical complications. I also get to watch my professor play and pay close attention to both the sound and technique, which is difficult through a
    computer.

Royceton Breitkreuz, Visual Arts

Teacher: Janice Liu | W.H. Sclater Memorial Award

Example of Work #1
Example of Work #2
Example of Work #3

Age: 11

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    I was around 9 years old when I started to practice drawing more seriously when I saw my dad drawing bubble-style letters and I wanted to learn how to do this.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    I don’t know if I have a role model but my influences are my friend’s art pieces, reading comics and other random pictures I see on the internet.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this art form?
    I’m interested in seeing new comics, movies or graffiti and I like to challenge myself by trying to copy it and draw my own version.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    I’m happy and thankful for the scholarship and will continue to my best.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    My teachers helped me achieve my goals by giving me ideas and giving me advice on how I can try new things in my drawings.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    My favourite memory at Place des Arts is starting a new class and not knowing anyone but making friends that make me laugh and seeing all their idea’s in their artwork.
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    Seeing how other people draw pictures motivates me to try new things and draw more.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    It feels fun to come to Place des Arts to meet other people who have the same interests as me and we have conversations about drawing. I also like learning new ways of drawing and getting ideas from everyone.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    I feel since COVID started I needed to use a computer more and I learned how to lookup more drawings online.

Dayton Chan, Music

Teacher: Marjory Purdy | Scholarship for Advanced Musical Studies


Age: 16

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    I was immersed in the world of music at the age of 5 when I started taking basic piano lessons from my cousin. At the time, I would always be listening to my sister and my cousins playing piano and I fell in love with the sound and really wanted to learn how to play. My parents then decided to give me the opportunity to learn and I’ve been playing since the age of 6.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    My role model is Wayne Gretzky, not only because he is a great hockey player, but his famous philosophy, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In a musical sense, I like to reflect on this quote before my performances as it makes me less nervous and reassures me. It calms my nerves because it reminds me that when I perform, I will definitely get more than 0% of my desired success. In the bigger picture, I always tell myself this when making decisions. Thanks to this quote, it has turned me into a more decisive and ambitious person.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this art form?
    My parents motivate me to continue to play piano with their constant words of support. My favourite quote from them is “do your best.” Though it is quite cliché, it relaxes me as there is not really a required standard for me, just that I try my hardest. Also, they remind me of the hardships they endured back in their hometown and how much they sacrificed to get me here. This has inspired me since my childhood to work even harder to make them proud.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    During my first year at Place des Arts, I had the opportunity to work with Terrence Dawson in his masterclass. Not only did I learn a lot from his tips and tricks for my piece, I observed the way he taught other students – gentle and concise. This is especially important because I started teaching at Place des Arts and having a diverse teaching style is very useful. Winning this scholarship will help me participate in more exhibitions and festivals, as well as continue to work towards my ARCT diploma.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    Marjory has guided me through every step of the way during my time at Place des Arts. Even when the pandemic struck, Marjory has done an exceptional job organizing a whole new system to resume my art education. From rhythm videos to practice performance videos to live YouTube recitals, these new methods of performing and practicing have helped my grade 10 exam be much more successful.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    My favourite memory of Place des Arts was around 6 years ago when I attended summer camp. I did animations and I got the opportunity to make my own video clip using clay. I remember dropping my clay figure on the ground and crying because of it. When I think back to it, I find it very funny how the little things made me so mad.
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    Place des Arts has inspired me by offering frequent recitals so I can perform regularly and being a space where I can learn lessons to become a better musician. They create goals for me. Moreover, when something does not go well during the recital, I know exactly what needs to be done to fix it and this is exactly the type of inspiration that keeps me practicing.
    Place des Arts has also taught me to be perseverant. I’m aware I have mentioned this before, but the emphasis is well-deserved. The perseverance Place des Arts demonstrated during the pandemic to maintain quality arts education while putting the safety of the community first. This was certainly not an easy feat. Hard work is always essential and it is something I’ve been moving towards.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    When I go to Place des Arts, it feels like a very safe place dedicated to music. It is relatively quiet with the faint sound of the piano. Also, there is some wonderful art scattered around the entire building, which calms me down for my piano lesson, especially if I had a basketball or hockey game beforehand. Simply walking in is all the preparation I need to focus on music for the next hour.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    Thankfully, the pandemic did not drastically impact my education thanks to the swift transition by Marjory, who made the virtual lessons seem as if they were in person. At first, the technological side was slightly challenging because I didn’t have much experience with Zoom. However, in a week or so, I got the hang of it and it has been smooth sailing ever since. One thing I improved on thanks to online lessons was punctuality. With the way the new recitals are set up, performance videos must be submitted by a certain time, or they wouldn’t be in the recital. Consistently working towards deadlines has helped my productivity immensely, particularly during quarantine when motivation was quite weak.

Yvette Dunham, Theatre

Teacher: Seamus Fera | Coquitlam Maillardville Heritage Trust Award

Age: 17

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    I started acting when I was six. They were filming a short film at my school and I remember I was interested in trying out acting. I am not sure what my motivations for trying acting were at the time, but I think I stuck with it because it gave me the chance to live a more interesting life than my own. To try adventures I could only imagine.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    I don’t think I have a specific role model, but any of my past acting teachers who have helped me further my skill and passion are role models to me.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this art form?
    I have always loved escaping into another world. Acting is like playing out books. I find acting exciting, as each new project I work on is different than the last.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    This scholarship may help open more doors and may give me an opportunity that otherwise I would not have.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    I am a part of the Coquitlam Youth Theatre (CYT) at Place des Arts, and my teacher, Seamus Fera has allowed me to better my acting in a safe and welcoming space. I love knowing that every time I come to class, I will be able to express myself freely, without feeling judged, and Seamus makes that possible.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    My favourite memories from Place des Arts are always when we tour the shows around schools for CYT. There isn’t a specific one, since I have so many, but being able to perform with such a large audience and spending the day with my friends is always a fun experience. I love when we perform at elementary schools since the kindergarteners’ reactions to our show are so adorable!
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    Studying at Place des Arts has inspired me to consider something in the field of acting in post-secondary education. Place des Arts has inspired me to continue trying different approaches to acting, and that acting doesn’t have to be just musical theatre.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    I feel excited to start a class and see my friends again. I always come into Place des Arts with a smile.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    We have had to approach theatre differently, which was challenging. It has kept us on our toes since we never knew when COVID restrictions were going to change. We did not get to do any live performances this year, which was really unfortunate, but without all that added pressure, I found we were able to focus more on the intricate details of theatre.

Bella Han, Music

Teacher: Marjory Purdy | Place des Arts Scholarship


Age: 15

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    I started practicing the piano when I was 5 years old with Margaret Purdy. Ever since I was little, my big sister was already taking piano lessons, so I was always surrounded by the sound of the piano. When I started kindergarten my parents registered me into piano lessons at Place des Arts, following my sister’s path. In grade 3, I started taking piano lessons with Marjory Purdy and she’s been my piano teacher ever since.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    My role model is my big sister Kara, she is 5 years older than me so most of the things I go through she’s experienced already. I learn from her mistakes, advice and experience. She has achieved so much throughout her life, and she inspires me to work harder every day. She is now in her third year of university at the Western University in London, Ontario studying business.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this artform?
    Producing beautiful music is what motivates me to continue learning and practicing the piano. Motivation can easily be lost, but the idea of creating music that I genuinely enjoy playing and listening to makes me want to practice more. My favourite part of practicing the piano is when I’ve learned the piece enough to a point that I can just play around and actually make it sound as good as possible. For every piece I play, I try my best to work towards that goal.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    One of my goals for everything I do is to try my best and work as hard as I can. Winning this scholarship gives me an opportunity to continue my practice and it provides a sense of motivation. Another one of my goals is to do what brings me joy and this scholarship will allow me to continue to learn more and more. I can play music that makes me happy and satisfied with myself.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    Marjory Purdy has been my teacher for almost 7 years, and she has taught me so much. She not only helps me with my specific piano goals but also her best to help achieve my personal goals. My goal of enjoying the pieces I play, and practicing is much easier to reach with Marjory’s assistance. She’s very skilled in knowing what you need to do in order to improve and how it needs to be done. With my specific goals, like completing an exam or even memorizing a piece, she understands and helps in getting me where I need to be. Her own life experiences always teach me so many things whether it’s to improve my skills or just life advice. Marjory has had a positive impact on my life, and she contributes greatly to my achievements.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    My all-time favourite memory at Place des Arts is performing duets with my sister. Performing is very nerve-racking but having my sister there to perform with me gave me a sense of relief. Duets let my sister and I connect through music, we often practiced together and it brought us closer even with the arguments! Playing duets are not the easiest pieces to play but after we performed our piece together, I always felt very happy, satisfied and relieved. I always try to practice duets with my sister whenever she comes home.
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    Studying at Place des Arts is extremely inspiring. There is a huge range of talents being practiced and learned in one community. Wherever you are in the building you can always hear an instrument being played or a song being sung or the steps of dancers – to me, those are the sounds of artists who are practicing hard. This has always inspired me to work hard and practice a lot! Before COVID-19, I was at the building quite often and I would frequently hear recitals, exhibitions and performances. Hearing and watching these artists inspire me to work towards the goal of being able to perform and produce music just as they do.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    When I come to Place des Arts, I feel safe and welcome. Place des Arts has practically been a second home to me for almost 11 years, so it has really become a part of my daily routine. I love seeing the staff and teachers whom I’ve known for a while and seeing all my friends as well. It makes me feel very grateful to be a part of such a kind and amazing community.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been studying piano online through Zoom. At the start it was quite strange and unusual, it was more difficult since I had to be much more independent with my learning. I noticed that I had to make sure I had responsible and good working habits such as time management in order to keep up. Marjory was very organized and tried to make our learning as easy as possible within the circumstances, so I am extremely grateful. This pandemic did make learning the piano more difficult but I learned a lot of new things along the way.

Natalie Owen, Music

Teacher: Kat Gillis | Place des Arts Scholarship


Age: 12

1) When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
I have been singing for as long as I can remember; however, I started formal singing lessons 3 years ago. I had participated in camps for acting, singing, and dancing beforehand, but had not truly given an interest in focusing more on my singing. I have always shown an interest in music, as I have played piano since I was 5 years old, I love to listen to songs, and really enjoy my music classes.

2) Who is your role model and why?
A specific role model that I have is The Beatles. I want to make people happy with my singing, and that is what I think The Beatles have accomplished. Even to this day, I believe The Beatles continue to bring joy through their music to so many as they do for me. I am inspired with their lyrics and singing, and I hope that I can also bring happiness through my singing with others.

3) What motivates you to continue to learn this artform?
I continue to want to learn more and to develop my signing skills so that I can be very confident in sharing my full voice with myself and others. I find great happiness and enjoyment from singing which I find I do throughout my day. My love for music and signing is a huge part of my life, and I truly think it makes life even more fulfilling.

4) How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
My goal was to become a stronger singer and to sing more often, as it brings me great joy. This scholarship is helping me to strive to become even a better singer and to be more confident in my singing abilities and performances. It feels great to know that I have improved so much during my time singing with Place des Arts. This wonderful award encourages me to reach even higher goals through practice and focus.

5) How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
My teacher’s constant support and encouragement of my singing, pushing me to try new things and trusting my voice is a big reason why I now feel more comfortable singing in front of others. My teacher has taught me that even if I make a mistake, I will not be judged as she only wants me to be a stronger singer. My teacher has also shown me different paths and opportunities to play with my voice that I would never have learned on my own.

6) Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
My favorite memory of Place des Arts was when I performed at my first singing recital in front of others. Though I was nervous at times, I found the courage to share my voice with others, and to enjoy the actual performance. I have performed with a few other instruments in front of many people, and I have learned that I feel the most comfortable when singing in front of others.

7) How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
Place des Arts has inspired me in many ways. The people I see and hear, their different and wonderful talents inspire me. Everyone always appears to be trying their best to perform well, and this has made me want to try my hardest as well.

8) Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
When I go to Place des Arts, I feel very comfortable.  I can sing to the best of my ability because I am not scared of making mistakes and being embarrassed as the others in the center are in the same position as me. We are all learning to be better at our artform. I also feel inspired by the different and unique abilities I see from people in Place des Arts.

9) How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
The pandemic has given me a reason to learn a new skill, one that has brought me much joy and pride. I can now sing and play piano at the same time, a feat that I would not have necessarily achieved if not for the pandemic.

Kayla Price, Music

Teacher: Kat Gillis | Place des Arts Scholarship


Age: 17

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    I started taking weekly singing lessons just under 10 years ago, and though admittedly I wasn’t too fond of them when I was younger, I really grew to enjoy and treasure them as music became a bigger part of my life. Joining band and choir once I began middle school was when music and singing really started to become a passion of mine, and I’ve been continuously singing and playing saxophone every year since then.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    A role model in my life when it comes to learning and helping others with music would be my high school’s drama and musical theatre teacher, Mr. Maller, and the Coastal Sound Youth Choir music director, Will de Sousa. Both have made music something really fun for me and so many others, while always harnessing the best sound and emotions from all of us. They are both really encouraging and understanding individuals who excel at music education and sharing their love for music.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this art form?
    I really love how expressive one can be with music. It’s an outlet that holds no limits and allows for people to share the deepest parts of themselves with the world. I want to be able to share the one-of-a-kind feelings of joy and passion that music brings me. With future goals and aspirations to be a music teacher as a career choice, continuing to learn and grow through music has never felt more like the right path in my life than it does now.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    I am beyond grateful that financial hardships haven’t held me back from continuing with my music lessons and extracurriculars, but these past few years since my dad passed away, my lessons can really be pushing it sometimes. Though the future is uncertain, what is certain is the support that this scholarship can bring for a couple of months worth of lessons, which I’m really thankful for, as it leaves more wiggle room for expanding my music education in preparation for university.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    My singing coach Katrina Gillis has always been so supportive of me and my singing since I walked in on day one asking for pointers on my musical theatre audition that was due the next day. Even meeting online instead of in-person this past year, I’m still excited for my lessons every week, and I’ve continued to make a lot of progress over the two years of lessons I’ve had with Kat. She’s really easy-going and nice, she plays to my strengths when picking new exercises and music to work on, and areas I’m weaker at have been steadily improving thanks to her guidance.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts. 
    When I was a younger kid, I was always so scared to perform in front of others at the end of the year at Place des Arts, so I was super stressed to show up there. Now, though, taking in all of the different art classes has created such a welcoming atmosphere. I loved whenever I came a few minutes early for my lessons, and I could sit around the lobby taking in the various arts going on in the space; feeling the subtle vibrations of dancers practicing from outside their studio, seeing all of the professional and student-made art going up on every wall, hearing trumpet and clarinet, and hearing scales down the hall from the singing student before me. That encompassing feeling of home has to be my favourite memory.
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you? 
    As I look back on my progress and how far I’ve come as a singer over the past 10 years, it’s really inspiring to compare the skills I had when I first started taking lessons, and the level I’ve reached now. That amount of growth, both as a person and as a musician, is a great motivator for me to continue trying my best and giving it my all, since someday I’ll be looking back on my progress made since the level I’m at now.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts. 
    In a society that is focusing more and more on the importance of STEM skills in life and within the workforce, walking into Place des Arts really solidifies that the arts are still just as important. When I walk through the double doors at the front, I am entering a space where artists of all crafts are pursuing their passions; students and teachers alike. It is always so refreshing to enter a space of people who, though I don’t know many of them personally, really get the importance of artistic expression. Place des Arts provides that space for me.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    For the music program and musical theatre, our numbers have dropped quite a bit, and we can’t have any of our usual live performances this year. Singing lessons and youth choir extracurriculars in-person hasn’t been possible either, and though I’m making it through, it is not the same. I feel like I’ve been missing out on so much this year, especially with it being my senior year in high school. I’ve always been excited for this year, and for all of the performances I’d get to do before being sent off with my diploma, but so much of that has been taken away. The lessons and digital performances we do get, while nice, won’t ever be the same either. I am really looking forward to when we can start to “normalize” things again.

Natalia Sawyer, Music

Teacher: Isaac Juarez-Flores | Fern Bouvier Arts Legacy Award


Age: 17

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    I started learning piano when I was 4 years old with the Music for Young Children program at Place des Arts. My first teacher was Miss Cindy, and after progressing through the program I eventually started studying with Isaac Juarez Flores.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    My role model is my cousin Lani, who is in university studying music and drama. I grew up watching Lani perform in choirs and musicals and she has always been very supportive of my musical endeavours. She has always been an inspiration for me, modelling hard work and dedication to her craft, as well as being one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve had the pleasure to know.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn this art form?
    I love it. I love learning new repertoire, performing and sharing my love of music with others. With piano, and with music in general, you can never stop learning. In order to grow as a musician, I want to challenge myself to study harder repertoire and push myself and the process itself is very rewarding.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    As I pursue a degree in music, this scholarship will help me finance my education and helps relieve some of the financial burdens of post-secondary costs.
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    Isaac has helped me in so many ways, from challenging me every week in class to helping me navigate auditions and figuring out the logistics of studying music in post-secondary education. He has given me numerous opportunities to perform, written countless reference letters and pushed me to be the best musician I can be. Isaac helped me not only pursue my dreams but also supported me throughout the process and I would not be where I am today without him.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    I have so many good memories at Place des Arts that it would be impossible to pick a favourite one.
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    I’ve studied at Place des Arts since I was very young and I think that growing up in a creative space and a community where everyone is learning and pursuing their creative studies has always been very inspiring for me. Whenever I was at student recitals I often found inspiration in the many talented and hardworking older students performing as they were always an example of what I was working towards. Even just walking through Place des Arts brings inspiration, there is always art to enjoy, music students to list to and dancers preparing for class. The environment at Place des Arts fosters creativity and being her pushes me to learn as much as I can and grow as a musician.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    Place des Arts has always made me feel welcome and at peace. As soon as I walk through the doors, I feel like I’m in a different world in a creative environment surrounded by people who share similar passions and pursuits.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    There have been very few opportunities to perform with the pandemic. Student recitals provide opportunities to improve your performance skills and I found that without the semi-frequent performances in front of large groups of people, I lost some of my confidence and performance skills. Something to work towards regaining and improving!

Ariel Wang, Theatre

Teacher: Seamus Fera | Leonore Peyton Memorial Award

Age: 16

  1. When and how did you get started practicing your art form?
    My first involvement with theatre was when I was very young, but only since sixth grade did I start to take it seriously. I chose to do theatre because I was naturally a dreamer, often living in my own world and playing pretend to amuse myself. I believed theatre would be something like that but with the company of others. I wasn’t wrong; however, there certainly is more to theatre than what my young, simple-minded self thought and I am so happy to have found more than I sought.
  2. Who is your role model and why?
    Everyone is my role model! There’s something I can learn from every person in my life and I believe this is the best way to grow and develop as a person in a well-rounded manner. Though if I had to choose one person, it would probably be Frances Hodgson Burnett; her novels have been a great inspiration to my childhood self and I aspire to, one day, be able to leave behind such a gift to the art world as well.
  3. What motivates you to continue to learn your art form?
    I am motivated by the happiness theatre brings to me and to those for whom I perform. I take great joy in acting and, similarly, I find that a good show is one of the best forms of entertainment.
  4. How does winning this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
    To me, this scholarship is great encouragement above all else. I’ve always been very invested in theatre just for the fun of it and, with theatre being much more collaborative than competitive, I never sought (and therefore never received) any affirmation that I am indeed going down the correct path. I am very honoured to win this scholarship today and it really does push me to keep working as I have done and pursue some more ambitious goals!
  5. How has your teacher helped you achieve your goals?
    I am incredibly thankful to Seamus for offering me so many wonderful opportunities in my theatrical journey! He has pushed me to try many new things and has been incredibly supportive, no matter what my endeavour was.
  6. Tell us your favourite memory of Place des Arts.
    My favourite memory of Place des Arts would probably be the touring shows we put on in the past few years. The stage lights, the hectic bustle during setup, the passion of the performance, the community when the entire cast holds hands and bows… I live for the adrenaline rush of the spectacle!
  7. How has studying at Place des Arts inspired you?
    I believe the friendly atmosphere of Place des Arts has allowed me to open myself up to new people, especially in the first year or two when I was still quite timid in social settings. Over the years, I am so happy to have made many new connections and met many kindred spirits here.
  8. Describe how you feel when you come to Place des Arts.
    With our rehearsals being on Saturdays, coming to Place des Arts feels like my break after a busy academic week. We all take theatre seriously, of course, and we do work very hard in rehearsals, but the fun of it all overrides that. It is my greatest enjoyment at the end of the week.
  9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your arts education?
    COVID-19 has stripped many activities of their social aspects and deprived us all of our much-needed human connection. I find that I have been investing more time into the artistic parts of my life to fill in for these lost connections. Technically, I don’t think it has hindered my progress, but it has made life a lot more mundane and myself a lot less productive artistically.

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