Foundation honours annual cultural winners

| 12/02/2012

bar.jpg(CNS): The 18th Annual National Arts & Culture Awards Gala will be hosted by The Cayman National Cultural Foundation on Saturday, when those who have made a special contribution to the local arts scene will be singled out for celebration. From the CNCF’s heritage cross which is awarded to those who have worked to preserve Caymanian cultural heritage to the CNCF star for artistic work,  the evening also offers an opportunity for the foundation to applauded volunteers and corporate sponsor who help to keep the local cultural scene alive. The event takes place at the Beach Suites at 7pm. Medal winners are set out below.

Heritage Cross: GOLD  – Carmen Conolly
As a young girl growing up in the 1940s and 50s, Carmen did her share making thatch ropes and baskets, From an early age she loved her aunt Mary Watler who was a seamstress and as a curious and ambitious little girl was always looking to help, collect the bits of cloth cuttings and borrow the scissors.
Her aunt taught her to sew and as a young woman she was sewing her own clothes and for many others in the district of East End.
In the 1970s the Government moved to promote the arts and craft culture and brought in Ms Edna Harrison as a specialist from Jamaica to organize adult craft classes across the Island. Carmen attended the classes in East End and later joined Ms Harrison as an assistant teacher at the Cayman Islands High School. Mrs Conolly taught crafts at CIHS for eight years and them moved to the East End Primary School for some 12 years.
Since retiring from the classroom, Ms Conolly has continued her involvement in crafts to make items for display and sale at events and markets like Art at the Governors, Pedro St. James, Look-a-Ya at the Museaum, Cayman Traditional Arts and Market at the Grounds. Today she continues to teach and encourage local craft in her community through various activities and a ‘Gifted Hands’ working group in East End, which she assisted in creating.
Heritage Cross: GOLD –Alvin McLaughlin
Alvin Allen McLaughlin was born on 19th September 1949 in West Bay to the proud parents Lloyd and Christline McLaughlin. As a young but he attended East End Primary School and was taught by Ms. Islyn Connolly. At the age of 18 McLaughlin went to sea and sailed for 13 years. For three years he trained pump men for national bulk carriers. At this time the company has the world’s largest fleet of super tankers. In 1980, he retired from sea and came home. Today McLaughlin is the proud father of two sons and a doting grandfather. McLaughlin is married to Andrea McLaughlin.
In December 1981, he was employed by Caribbean Utilities Company, Ltd. (CUC) as the first full time welder. 30 years later, he is still employed by CUC. Mr. McLaughlin has been an invaluable part of the CNCF team over the years. Serving not only as a board member, but also as a community liaison who supports (and assimilates others in the East End community) CNCF programmes such as GIMISTORY, Rundown, Music Unplugged etc. and Pirates Week. Over these many years he has always enjoyed the long hours spent preserving the heritage of our islands.
Mr. McLaughlin has been an invaluable part of the CNCF team over the years. Serving not only as a board member, but also as a community liaison who supports (and assimilates others in the East End community) CNCF programmes such as GIMISTORY, Rundown, Music Unplugged etc. and Pirates Week. McLaughlin urges all of us to do all that we can to preserve our heritage for generations to come.

Heritage Cross:  Silver – William Banker
William ‘Billy’ Banker was born in West Bay on September 28, 1934.  He completed school at 16 and began working as a seaman at age 19 retiring after 24 years.  He worked for a further 27 years with Cayman Water Company.
Billy became a member of the West Bay Heritage Committee and remains active after 30 years of service.  He is involved in every facet of the committee but is mainly responsible for the demonstration of thatch rope making during Heritage Days.
He has also advised the Cayman Islands Museum team on traditional building techniques such as wattle and daub and volunteers at the Museum’s ‘Looky Ya’ events.
He is currently a resource for Cayman Traditional Arts and the Cayman Islands Traditional Arts Council, working at various functions showcasing Cayman’s Heritage to school children, visitors and locals.  Billy is keeping Cayman’s Heritage alive by involving his grandson whenever possible.
For Billy’s contribution to the preservation of Cayman’s heritage, he has received many awards. On November 3, 2007, he was presented with a 20 year service award from the Minister of Tourism for his involvement with Pirates Week.  Billy is hopeful that Cayman’s traditions will be kept alive for future generations.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: GOLD – Virginia Foster
She is consistent and dedicated to preservation of culture. She is an educator and storyteller who is always willing to participate in schools, the community and CNCF activities. She is a visual artist/craftsperson who is willing to teach and share her knowledge. She also collaborates with traditional arts and individuals in the community.
Virginia ensures the Sister Islands are always involved in arts and cultural activities. She is one of the most passionate individuals when is comes to the preservation of culture and the promotion of arts and heritage related activities. She has interviewed key persons in the community, work on the Save Miss Lassie’s House project, taught storytellers on several occasions and provides workshops on arts and crafts.
Virginia first became involved with CNCF in 1992 when “Maycow Monster”, a play she and her drama club students at the Cayman Brac High School submitted to the junior Playwriting Competition, was staged at the Harquail Theatre. The following year, she was invited to represent the Sister Islands on the CNCF Board, a position she held for thirteen years until her resignation in 2006. Virginia continues to support the work of the CNCF as Administrative Assistant, Librarian and Volunteer Coordinator at the CNCF Office.
In 2005, Virginia made her first appearance at Gimistory as “Auntie V” and has continued to participate in this CNCF storytelling festival ever since. She also makes guest appearances throughout the year at public and private schools, especially during Reading Week and on Heritage Days. She especially enjoys entertaining the residents of the Pines who always seem to take great pleasure in hearing Anansi stories. Virginia now writes and records her own local “Anansi in Cayman” stories. She can be heard on Radio Cayman’s Saturday morning  'Caymanian Stories'.  In her spare time, Virginia’s other creative outlets include ceramics, fashion designing, conducting craft workshops, making pressed flowers note cards and writing poetry.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Silver – Rosalind Ebanks
Rosalind Ebanks was born in Grand Cayman on September 20, 1932. From as early as 8 years of age she became involved in ‘twisting strands’, the process of making rope from the silver thatch. In 1949 she married Capt. Cadian Ebanks and for the next number of years was kept busy raising her family of 11 children: 8 sons and 3 daughters.
However, after the children were grown she returned to her childhood craft of thatching and became renowned for her basket and hat making skills.  She is still actively involved in the industry and participated in the recent Art@Governor’s event.
This very important aspect of Caymanian heritage has been passed onto daughter, Rose May, who is arguably Cayman’s most recognised thatch crafter.
Mrs. Rosalind also makes volunteer presentations at local primary schools and at various cultural events, where she encourages young students to become interested in this important segment of our heritage.
Mrs. Rosalind thanks God for her long and blessed life and continues to give him the honour and the praise for all her accomplishments.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Silver -Rose Mae Ebanks
Rose May Ebanks has devoted her life to keeping the tradition of thatching live in the Cayman Islands. She is constantly thatching, live a numerous functions. She does demonstrations in schools and teaches the youth at every opportunity. She has been teaching children and adults for over 20 years. Rose May has assisted the CNCF at many of their Summer Arts Programmes and has excellent support with students from all ages. Her tireless efforts have since been acknowledged by Her Majesty the Queen during the Quincentennial Year in 2003.

Star for Creativity in the Arts :Bronze – Quincy Brown
Quincy is an extremely, exceptional talented young person he excels in various artistic disciplines — stage acting, singing, writing, radio announcing, host and MC extraordinaire. In 2002 he was awarded CNCF’s Artistic Endeavour Award.  Quincy Brown made his singing debut in Church at the age of 6 and has for the last 20 years been involved in the performing arts in the Cayman Islands.  Whilst, it may be a misnomer to use the word ‘consistent’ to describe Quincy’s involvement in theatre, music and sotrytellying, his rather regular but brief bursts of artistic genius, continue to enchant and impress the Caymanian audiences of all ages.
Through his celebration of Caymanian dialect, he has done for the Cayman Islands what Louise Bennett achieved for Jamaica in the recognition of the local dialect.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze -Leathan L. Martin
He was born on October 20th, 1939 in The Creek, Cayman Brac to parents Elton and Estella Martin.  At a young age in 1957 he followed in the Caymanian tradition and went to sea, sailing on National Bulk Carriers for 10 years. During one of his few return visits to Cayman Brac, he fell in love and became engaged to Laurel Martin. In 1967 he returned home to start his family and was married in May 1967. He has remained a committed and loving husband ever since.   He is the father of two sons, Linburgh and Lyndon Martin. In 1971 he took up employment with Cayman Brac Power Light Company as Assistant Linesman and Assistant Engineer.  He remained with the Company for 20 years and was invited to join the Public Works Department Mechanic shop in 1991 and remained there until his retirement in 2006.
Throughout the years he has performed in hundreds of drama skits and plays, earning several accolades, including the Heritage Award from the CNCF in 1991.
As a retiree he volunteers at the Humane Society Thrift Shop and actively participates in fundraising drama shows.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze – Michael McLaughlin
Michael McLaughlin got his first ‘Taste’ of theatre at the Cayman Islands High School. Upon his graduating he went off to collage and took some acting classes while majoring in other studies. After a number of years pursuing radio broadcasting and modeling adventures, Michael returned to the stage in Rundown 2007. Since then he has continued to work with the CNCF taking part in GIMISTORY and other productions. More recently Michael played a leading role in the CNCF produtions of Two Can Play.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze -Simone Scott
Simone Scott attended Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota Florida on a full CI Government Scholarship. After returning to Cayman Brac, Simone opened her small quaint gallery, Simone’s YFE Art Gallery located in her parents craft shop NIM Things.
Simone became a Board Member of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands as the Sister Islands Representative a few months after it was first formed. She has since become the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Officer for the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.  Ms Scott promotes the arts through programmes that she introduced to the National Gallery such as a documentary series she made on the Native Sons, the programmes Elderly Artists, Traditional Arts: Thatching Class etc, workshops and children’s camps that she hosts. When Simone is not working or painting she volunteers in the community in such organizations as National Trust Cayman Brac District, CNCF Brac Cayfest and Cayman Brac Pirates Week/Heritage Day.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze -Mona Lisa Watler
Mona has been involved in the artistic community in the Cayman Islands since her teen years. Her performances as lead female vocalist for the band “Heat” for 6 years awarded her the opportunity to open for headliners such as Bryon Lee and the Dragoneers, Kymani Marley, Rupee and Chalice.
She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005, graduating with Cum Laude honours from the University of Tampa. Returning home, she worked as digital video editor and associate producer for the Daybreak show developing the Artists and Rhythms segment which highlighted musicians, poets and artists within the Cayman Islands.
Balancing both full-time and part-time work she moonlighted as radio broadcaster with Paramount Media’s Vibe 98.9FM and Spin 94.9FM until 2009.
She is a member of the CNCF Folk Singers, former Vice President for the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association and in past years has volunteered her services for the Northward Prison Literacy Song competition; the Leo’s Club of Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac Miss Teen pageants; Pirates Week and Batabano Festivals, Cayman’s Got Talent and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. In 2008 she was asked by the Department of Tourism to co-host the BET Jazz Festival.
Since 2007, Mona has been employed at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands as Communications and Marketing Manager where she promotes the development of visual arts within our community.  She is the proud mom of Blake and Sariah.

In addition to the Heritage Awards, CNCF recognises the following:
Volunteer of the Year:  Winston Salmon: Winston 's nickname is "Never say No" and he has volunteered frequently and consistently during the past year. At Christmas Breeze, GIMISTORY, Cayfest, Culture Jam, Office work, costume room… just to name just a few. He is not only willing but always enthusiastic to volunteer.  It is our pleasure to award Winston the title ofVolunteer of the Year!
Corporate Sponsor of the Year – The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism; The Department of Tourism has shown their continual support of CNCF programmes, particularly that of Mind’s Eye (Miss Lassie’s House) and Cayfest. Over $75,000 has been donated to the CNCF over the past two years. We look forward to their continued support the work of the CNCF.

Chairman’s Award -Radio Cayman: Radio Cayman has been extremely supportive of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation over the years. In particular during Cayfest 2010 when the award-winning play, ‘Isabel’ was broadcast nightly for two consecutive weeks at no cost to CNCF.  This included all production and air time. The arts and culture awards show was also broadcast live at no cost to the CNCF in 2011. Radio Cayman has been a key player in allowing CNCF to reach a large captive audience in order to keep the community apprised and involved with the many events and programmes offered by CNCF.

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