Shaughnessy O’Brien, recipient of a 2019 bursary from the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre Society. (Submitted photo).

Vernon Performing Arts Centre announces 2019 bursary winners

Shaughnessy O’Brien , Sierra Shaw and Kayleigh Wagner are this year’s $1,000 bursary winners

The Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre Society’s SPOTLIGHT series kicked off last weekend with a show by Michael Kraeshammer that drew 500 patrons and special guests, But before the night was taken over by jazz music, the society shone the spotlight on its three local bursary winners for 2019.

Sigrid-Ann Thors, president of the society, announced the three winners at the society’s 18th annual Birthday Bash celebration on Sept. 28. Shaughnessy O’Brien, Sierra Shaw and Kayleigh Wagner were each awarded $1,000 bursaries to help them along their path through university studies in performing arts.

Shaughnessy O’Brien is a graduate of W.L. Seaton Secondary now in the second year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts – Acting degree at the University of Alberta. She’s also in the first of three years in a 14-member acting conservatory.

Upon graduating, her class will head out on an audition tour across Canada. Her goal is to pursue live theatre, as well as acting in film and television.

Also a graduate of W.L. Seaton, Sierra Shaw is a first year student at Concordia University in Montreal in the Faculty of Fine Arts with specialization in Design for Theatre and a Minor in Human Rights. Her theatre-related passions are in set design, lighting, sound and stage management, and these passions are what led her to the internationally renowned theatre design program at Concordia.

Kayleigh Wagner is a graduate of Vernon Secondary School and is currently in the final year of a two-year diploma program in Costuming for Stage and Screen at Capilano University in North Vancouver. She’s striving to become a costumer in the theatre industry, and will be getting first-hand experience with these skills on Capilano stage productions.

Bursaries are made possible from donations by patrons of the Performing Arts Centre, tips collected at the coat check the bar and concession, as well as specified, tax deductible donations and memorial gifts by donors and sponsors throughout the year. The number and amount of the bursaries depends on the quality and need expressed in applications and the amount of funds collected.

Bursary Program Committee has set bursaries at $1,000 each due to the high cost of post-secondary programs. Students are eligible to receive a maximum of two Performing Arts Centre Society bursaries over their post-secondary career.

“We are very grateful to the patrons, donors and sponsors of the Performing Arts Centre who help make our bursaries possible,” says Jim Harding, executive director.

“This year, we received so many worthy applications with real financial need and we are happy to help this year’s students, but wish we could do more. We will certainly need the coming year and the continued generosity of our supporters to help re-build our Bursary Fund resources for 2020.”

Guidelines for the bursary program are available on the society’s website at and application details will be announced in the Spring of 2020.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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