Shelley Youngblut, CEO of WordFest, was named the recipient of the non-profit arts award during a ceremony at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Monday.
“Youngblut connects smart, funny people with life-changing ideas and has breathed new life into an arts organization that only a short time ago was set to close its doors,” states a release from the Rozsa Foundation.
Youngblut took over as WordFest’s creative director in 2015. She transformed the organization from being the host of a one-week literary event into a catalyst of year-round programming that attracts major award-winning authors. Youngblut is also forging new community partnerships, such as one with the Calgary Public Library that will transform Alberta’s oldest library in Central Memorial Park into a vibrant arts and culture hub.
“(She) is a fierce advocate of emerging talent and has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to ensuring the literary arts in Calgary receives its due diligence.”
Youngblut receives a $10,000 cash prize from the Rozsa Foundation with a further $10,000 for her organization. In addition, she will receive access to leadership and business development courses and consulting through the University of Alberta School of Business, Banff Centre, Haskayne School of Business and a number of private firms.
The other nominees for the award were JP Thibodeau, artistic producer of StoryBook Theatre, and Keri Mitchell, executive director of Theatre Alberta.
Past recipients include David Chantler of Trickster Theatre, Rose Brow; former managing director Quest Theatre; Stephen McHolm former artistic director of Honens; and Bob McPhee, former director general of the Calgary Opera.
The award was established in 2002 to honour the philanthropy of Ted and Lola Rozsa. To date, the Rozsa Foundation has distributed more than $1 million in benefits to award recipients and their organizations.