Scholarships help fund students in the arts

Lisa Goudy
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Keyanna Burgher has received a Larry Wilson Scholarship every year for the past four years.

Debbie and John Burgher accept two Larry Wilson Scholarships on behalf of their daughter, Keyanna, in the Mosaic Gallery at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre on Aug. 23, 2014.

In the end, it will have allowed her to go to the University of British Columbia and end her schooling with almost no debt.

“We’re thrilled for her,” said her mother, Debbie. “So many people incur such debt so this has given her the opportunity to do something she’s really wanted to do and she’s excelling in it as well.”

This year, she won two scholarships, the Sylvia Wilson Scholarship for Vocalists and the Lawrence Wilson Special Literary Award. As she is in B.C., Debbie and her husband John were on hand to accept the scholarship for Keyanna given out on Saturday.

She’s entering into her fourth and final year of study in the creative writing program. She enjoys writing music and fiction.

“It’s a fairly elite program. It’s a small program, but it’s worldwide,” said Debbie. “Two of her plays were produced this year and they were very well received. So that was very exciting. One of her plays was selected to be done at the Brave New Play Rites at UBC.”

Also on Saturday, Laura Olmstead received the Gerald B. Wilson Scholarship for Musical Theatre. She is currently studying just outside of Toronto and will enter into her last year.

“It’s really appreciated … It costs a lot of money to go there,” said Olmstead’s mother, Joanne, who was there along with her husband Kevin to accept the scholarship for their daughter.

When she’s done school, Joanne said Laura is hoping to find work, but not necessarily in Toronto.

“I know she’s looking at Saskatchewan opportunities too and looks at all the theatres in Saskatchewan. We do have a lot of performing options here,” said Joanne.

Some of those include RuBarb Productions in Moose Jaw, Globe Theatre in Regina, Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Joanne.

Regina Sagal-Hendry, chairperson of Moose Jaw Arts in Motion, the organization in charge of the money, said there are seven scholarships available, but not all were given out this year because there were no applicants in some categories. There is no age limit on applying for the scholarships and people can apply for more than one.

She added the scholarships are so important to have in place.

“Getting funding in the arts is so difficult and it’s just chicken one day, feathers the next. You have such a hard show sustaining money in the arts because you’re only one show at a time. Even if you’re working in that field there isn’t a continuous job for you always,” said Sagal-Hendry.

“Anything that can help you with your studies is going to leave you less in debt to help you find something to go to work with.”

For more information on scholarships, including information on how to apply, visit

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: University of British Columbia, Globe Theatre, Persephone Theatre

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Toronto, Saskatoon Moose Jaw

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