Alan Greyeyes | 2020 Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction

Photo byElla Greyeyes

The Manitoba Arts Council is pleased to announce that Alan Greyeyes is the 2020 recipient of the Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction. This $30,000 prize is awarded every two years to a professional artist or arts/cultural professional in recognition of the highest level of artistic excellence and contribution to the development of the arts in Manitoba.

“Measuring the impact that Alan Greyeyes has had on the music scene in Manitoba is no easy task,” said Randy Joynt, Executive Director of the Manitoba Arts Council. “When he’s not running the show, he is a champion for those who should be heard. Alan’s accomplishments in the arts and cultural sector make Manitoba a better place and we are proud to recognize him with this prestigious award.”

Among his many accomplishments, Greyeyes established the sākihiwē festival with the goal of making the arts more accessible to Indigenous families in Winnipeg. He also helped launched the Manito Ahbee Festival, the Indigenous Music Awards, and Manitoba Music’s Indigenous Music and Market Builder Residencies, among other projects.

2015 sākihiwē festival, Photo by Phil Starr

Photo Credit: 2015 sākihiwē festival, Photo by Phil Starr

Greyeyes approaches his work with incredible integrity and a unique perspective: “I believe that budgets are moral documents and I only have a career in the music industry because Indigenous artists need help,” he explained. “I also feel like I need to earn the trust of artists every time I launch a new project or send them a performance offer and I can only do that by working hard, keeping administrative costs down, and challenging the status quo.”

“I think Alan’s impact can not only be seen in the long list of festivals and projects he’s created for Indigenous artists in the past 14 years, but in the effect that he’s had on the lives of artists like myself,” said Don Amero, nominator. “Building a career in the music industry is never easy and I can tell you that when I didn’t have any collaborators, Alan connected me with a community; when I was ready to do the conferences and showcases, Alan helped me get them and then got artistic directors to come watch me; when I was ready to build a team, Alan vouched for me; and, when it was time for me to give back, Alan pointed me in the right direction.”

Along with his project management work, Greyeyes volunteers on a number of boards and committees, including the Indigenous and Rap category committees for the JUNO Awards, the board of directors for the Polaris Music Prize, the Indigenous Music Advisory Committee for the National Music Centre, the Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle for the City of Winnipeg, and the Indigenous advisory committee for the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Greyeyes is a member of the Peguis First Nation. He runs an artist and project management company along with the sākihiwē festival. In the next 12 months he’s moving the sākihiwē festival online, launching a new music conference, and taking the sākihiwē brand to London, England and Paris, France.Shanley Spence hoop dancing in front of a crowd, Photo by Alan Greyeyes

Photo Credit: Shanley Spence, Photo by Alan Greyeyes

Previous Award of Distinction recipients include: Shawna Dempsey & Lorri Millan (2018), Diana Thorneycroft (2016), Robert Archambeau (2014), J. Roger Léveillé (2012), William Eakin (2009), Roland Mahé (2008), Dr. Robert Turner (2007), Aganetha Dyck (2006), Guy Maddin (2005), Grant Guy (2004), Robert Kroetsch (2003), and Leslee Silverman (2002).