Increasing Confidence One Heel at a Time: Become a GAC Member like The Heels Academy!

By Ahmri Vandeborne  

Meet Vanessa, Kween, and Michelle, the co-founders and owners of The Heels Academy, a local dance and training studio in Guelph Ontario founded in the Summer of 2019, and one of our GAC members! One of our amazing volunteers, Paige Bromby, sat down (from a distance) with The Heels Academy to talk about their business, advice for emerging entrepreneurs, and community living, as well as what it’s like to be a GAC member, culminating in a video you can watch online here.


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Co-owners of The Heels Academy. From left to right: Vanessa, Michelle, Kween. Photo provided by The Heels Academy

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Recipient Named for the 2020 Youth Opportunities Award

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Deanna Kruger

Guelph, ON – December 3, 2020 – Guelph Arts Council is pleased to announce that the 2020 Youth Opportunities Award goes to Deanna Kruger of Guelph. An award-winning professional playwright, Deanna has worked as a facilitator and playwright mentor, and has served as a playwright-in-residence supported by both Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council.

Deanna submitted her application for support in offering an innovative online playwriting workshop free of charge to youth ages 14 to 17 in Guelph and Wellington County. The workshop will be in three parts, each session exploring a different aspect of playwriting and theatre. Youth will be “inspired and empowered to discover their inner playwright, gaining the fundamental tools needed to begin crafting short plays and scenes.” They will also be able to share their writing with the group as well as receive individual feedback from Deanna.

The award jury commended Deanna for an excellent, well-thought-out proposal. They applauded the accessibility of a free, online workshop, especially in these pandemic times when “teenagers are experiencing unprecedented isolation.” Deanna further noted that those interested in theatre have been doubly impacted because theatre is a collaborative art so “social distancing has caused a necessary but monumental disruption in education and performances.” The jury also appreciated her optimistic outlook, especially her hope that the “playwriting tools that youth learn during the workshop will feed their creativity long after the world opens up again.”

Established in 2009 to take the place of a previous youth awards program dating back to 1982, the Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Award is intended to encourage programs that will initiate, enhance or expand opportunities for children and youth in Guelph and Wellington County to experience or become in engaged in the arts.  Funds for the award come from the Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Fund managed by the Guelph Community Foundation.

For more information about the Youth Opportunities Award program and Guelph Arts Council, please visit, phone 519-836-3280, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Monthly Musical Member Video - Transstar

Each month we’ll feature a video from one of GAC’s musical members. If you’re a musician and have a video you’d like us to feature, please send a YouTube link our way along with a short bio.

People may remember the name Aimee Copping from last month, when we featured the online SongLine program that offers a supportive platform for people to share songs and ideas. SongLine is a new endeavour, but for a number of years, Aimee has been running Blackball, a program that provides hands-on electronic music instruction to young people and marginalized community members. As one might expect from someone who offers this kind of musical mentorship, Aimee is also a performer (under the name “Transstar”), and today’s video is for the song “The Last Girl in Berlin”. Lovers of the outdoors can also find a song from Transstar as part of the City of Waterloo’s Trail Mix program, where hikers on local trails can access a playlist of local artists as they walk.

Transstar sings twisted electronic pop.
Transstar has been making electronic pop since the actual 80s, when CBC's Brave New Waves played her cassette demos on-air.
Transstar's debut album "Famous Door" was released on Chris Tait’s Park Music in 2019. A follow-up release is slated for 2021 release.

As we’ve been reminding everyone, Bandcamp has been foregoing their share of artist sales on the first Friday of each month until the end of 2020, so people can visit Transstar’s Bandcamp page and those of other local artists you love to purchase their music on December 4th for one last chance to make sure your financial support goes directly to the artists.

And now for your listening pleasure, with a special nod given to the very rhythmic bumblebee you’ll see in this video, “The Last Girl in Berlin”.

COVID-19 has had an immediate and massive impact on artists’ livelihoods and will continue to have impacts as we gradually emerge.

Here at Guelph Arts Council we know that the arts are essential to the well-being of Guelph’s residents, and contribute to Guelph’s renown as a vibrant place to live and visit. The pandemic has demonstrated the value of the arts as people turn to artists for comfort, insights, entertainment and learning. 

Since the pandemic began, across Canada, over 1,000 artists have responded to a national survey organized by They report an average loss of 35 gigs and over $25,000 in income. Artists are at risk.   

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Artwork by Barbara Salsberg Mathews

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