The City of Ojai Arts Commission is pleased to announce that the winner of the Hope Frazier Prize this time around is Nigel Chisholm. The Hope Frazier award is an occasional award not given out each year, but at the discretion of the Arts Commission, in order to recognize an outstanding contributor to the artistic life of Ojai.

Nigel Chisholm is best known for turning his two local bar businesses into lively venues for music and arts of all sorts. They have become community hubs for fundraising, incubators of local talent, and beloved local establishments where art truly fosters community and breaks down social barriers.

On the walls of The Jester and the Vine he has offered space to local artists and photographers to display their work, and he hosts their receptions, often collaborating with the artists to show the work off to best advantage.

Chisholm has opened his business to a Youth Music Night each Monday where young singers and musicians can gain invaluable performance experience, and build confidence in themselves and their art. Through this opportunity some young musicians have built mentorship relationships with older, professional musicians that could never otherwise have happened.

On the adult scene, many local musicians have found their footing and grown loyal audiences thanks to Nigel’s faith in their work and his commitment to them in both time and money. He understands that building such audiences doesn’t happen overnight and has the patience and trust in the artists it takes to do so. 

Serendipitous new musical collaborations have arisen as artists meet at Nigel’s bars, and well-known session musicians from LA often travel up to play at The Vine, not for the money but for the vibe and the warm reception they know they’ll get from the Vine scene.

In recent months, Chisholm has opened the Vine up to popular monthly salons led by New York Times best-selling author, Nomi Prins. Prins’ books deal with global finance and the history of how the federal reserve operates, as well as giving advice on personal money management.

A small sample of the artistic events Nigel has personally organized over the years includes:

* A fundraiser for Japan after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, “From The Valley of The Moon to The Land of The Rising Sun.” That event, still remembered fondly by everybody who attended, brought together an extraordinary array of local musical talent with a who’s who of the Ojai music scene singing separately and, finally, all together in an exhilarating and moving massive display of solidarity and support for the victims thousands of miles away.

* A multi-event fundraiser to support a beloved local woman going through cancer and in need of financial help. The fundraiser comprised several musical events and a wildly successful Mystery Science Theater show with local actors giving of their time and talents to raise money. Many silent auction items were donated by local visual artists of all types through their personal relationships with Chisholm.

* A musical benefit for the local homeless shelter which drew upon the audiences already established for the various participating musicians and which raised an astonishing $7000 in one night, surpassing in bounds the projected sum of $1000. 

In these endeavors, Chisholm has involved himself at every level to support both the artists and the cause.

An actor himself, Chisholm also employs actors. parents of young actors, and a director of local youth theater company OYES, and understands their need to make significant schedule changes in order to pursue their art. He has accommodated his staff in this in a way that few other employers would.

Nigel Chisholm’s work in supporting, promoting, and collaborating in the musical, theater, and visual arts has enlivened downtown Ojai for many years, creating a “scene” that continues to grow in scope and richness. He believes in art as a breaker of barriers, a much-needed social and emotional release in our times, and a soul-enhancing experience that benefits every one of us. He has lived his life and run his businesses in support of these ideals and by dint of them has changed the cultural landscape of Ojai indelibly for the good.

The Hope Frazier Prize will be awarded to Nigel Chisholm at City Hall Chambers, 401 S. Ventura St. at 6:30pm Thursday 21st during the regular Arts Commission meeting. It is open to the public and the Commission welcomes anyone who would like to attend. Photos of this occasion will be published here after the event.

City of Ojai Arts Commission Chair, Michael Addison, presents Nigel Chisholm with the Hope Frazier Award at City Hall.