The YVR (Vancouver International Airport) Art Foundation has created a new $5,000 scholarship award for students in Northwest Community College's (NWCC) Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art. The scholarship will be one of the College's largest financial awards and available every year for the next three years starting in May 2008. The Vancouver Airport Authority established the YVR Art Foundation in 1994 to foster the development of Northwest Coast Art, broaden the art's markets and encourage its display in public buildings. The Foundation's support for young First Nations artists stems from its belief that Northwest Coast Art plays an important role in defining the unique character of B.C. and its heritage, and contributes to international awareness of and tourism in Canada. "We're really pleased to begin what we hope is a long collaboration with Northwest Community College," says Foundation Chair Clive Grout. "This is a wonderful opportunity for us to support young artists that aren't yet established." Though the YVR Art Foundation has been supporting young artists through its scholarship program for the last four years, this is the first time it has offered an award through an institution. "It is a huge honour for Northwest Community College to be recognized by the Vancouver Airport," states Freda Diesing Program Coordinator and instructor Stan Bevan. "Though most people don't think of it as a collection, the Vancouver Airport has one of the largest contemporary collections of First Nations art in the world. Awards like this allow young First Nations artists to focus on their work and education, which helps improve the quality of the art itself. An artist is a self-employed position, so to become an artist is a brave thing , it's a challenge. When I was starting out, I looked for grants and awards but there were none. With more awards and grants available, the challenges are getting a little easier and with the School, the artists themselves are getting better." Award recipients must meet the following criteria:
- Be a First Nations student enrolled in NWCCs Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art
- Be under the age of 25
- Live in B.C.
- Demonstrate potential in visual arts in the Northwest Coast Style
- Be willing to exhibit their award winning artwork at the Vancouver International Airport for a period of one year
- Be willing to identify and work with a mentor to facilitate the ongoing learning process
- Winners will be chosen based on their portfolios in a selection process managed by Northwest Community College. A student can receive the award only once. "The YVR Art Foundation Award provides significant financial support to our students," explains NWCC President Stephanie Forsyth. "Lack of financial aid is a major barrier to post-secondary students. The availability of this award, along with the encouragement and recognition it bestows on the recipients, will greatly assist students in our Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art achieve their personal and career goals."