Presentation of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards
Rideau Hall, Friday, May 8, 2009
Today is a day of celebration!
Because we have come together to celebrate some of our greatest performing artists.
Women and men who, even in these uncertain times, remind us that here in Canada, there is no shortage of ideas. Women and men who embody the pleasure that comes from effort, discovery and renewal.
Along the path that has led them to where they are today, each of them has pondered that essential question of the place that the arts hold in our lives and in the development of our societies.
Why indeed, dear friends, would someone devote themselves so completely—often under difficult conditions, at times beset by a lack of understanding—to a practice that consists of, as Moravia wrote, “exploring every facet of the mystery that we represent to ourselves in life”?
Out of conviction. Because neither obstacles, nor difficulties encountered along the way can ever overcome their passion, any more than they can derail their efforts to give form to a world that inhabits them so intensely that it moves beyond the artists to touch us each in turn.
Out of generosity. Because what our artists offer up to our senses are the hours and years, days and nights of hard work, false starts and new beginnings, driven by that irrepressible desire to continue to push the envelope and to transform every step in their creative process into an opportunity for sharing.
Out of a need to sow beauty around them. A beauty born of both the emotions and thoughts that art inspires in us and that appeals to our entire being. Body and mind transported by the intensity of the exchange.
Out of a kind of ecology. Because their search for meaning is fuelled by the relationships—at times tense, at times harmonious, always complex—that living beings have with their environment and the moments of profound questioning that each of us experiences in our lifetime.
Out of solidarity. Because although their disciplines, approaches and visions may vary, and regardless of the medium that they strive tirelessly to perfect, what artists seek more than anything else is to embrace and capture the extent and depth of the human experience.
It is by creating that artists become, most often without even knowing it, and by giving voice to our smallest troubles and our greatest triumphs, to our most desperate struggles and our quiet joys, the architects of our civilizations.
It is their works that inspire a nation’s pride, their works that fill the pages of history.
It is they who have found the voice, the gesture, the rhythm that transcends distance and all ages to awaken the humanity in each of us and to remind us, in the beautiful words of poet Gatien Lapointe, that “[translation] all men bear the same name.”
For all of these reasons, dear friends, we celebrate the laureates of the 2009 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards this evening.
Dear artists, believe me when I tell you that the brilliant paths upon which you are travelling are illuminated with the glow of our gratitude.