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Monday, December 5, 2016

Backstage Report: The AVI Choice Awards 2016 By: Persia Bravin

Since 2011, the AVI Choice Awards have highlighted the immense talent of content creators from all genres in Second Life. Originally conceived by Nikki Mathieson as a way to boost traffic for the very first Relay For Life of Second Life ‘Christmas Expo’, the awards quickly gained recognition and momentum as an important cultural event of their own. The Avi Choice Awards have continued, on its own since 2011, but it has always supported Relay For Life as its charity. Since 2011, nearly 1.2 million votes have been cast for nearly 7,000 nominees and the associated websites have had 800,000 hits. This year alone, there were more than 249,000 votes cast across 98 categories – impressive statistics indeed. In addition, the AVI stage has been an opportunity to educate and bring awareness to guests and audiences about the incredible work The American Cancer Society has done - and continues to do - in the fight against cancer.

Photos: Austin Novaland

On Sunday 4 December, the very last AVI Choice Awards took place in front of a packed auditorium.The votes had been counted, the crew and performers were assembled and the audience were dressed in their finest couture ready to hear the nominees and winners. Backstage, I asked Nikki Mathieson just why she felt the awards were so important for creators. “I hope that creators have considered them important,” she said, as she prepared to raise the red velvet theatre curtains. “I've heard, over the years, that they are considered to be…and that's definitely important to me.  Second Life is a unique virtual world in that so much of the great in it is created by its own users.  Each creator makes our world better.  They share a part of them with us, their imaginations and talents and the Awards are important because it gives us the opportunity to let them know that we recognize their abilities and appreciate them.”

Photos: Austin Novaland

The awards got off to a dazzling start thanks to an outstanding performance by singer, Savannah Rain before show hosts, Trader Whiplash and Nuala Maracas made the official welcome. SL television stalwarts, Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlinfrom the ever popular ‘Designing Worlds’ show then took to the spotlight to announce the nominees and winners in the SLIFEsection. The duo delighted the audience with their presentation skills and witty repartee before handing the microphone over to SL singer, Chris Quan. It was then my turn to announce the winners in the fashion section alongside Frolic Mills, but a major technical hitch meant that Frolic was unable to log into SL – or skype. With the clock ticking, and with only 20 seconds before the fashion awards were due to be announced, the ever gallant Elrik Merlin leapt onstage to help me host. The show must always go on!

The audience were then treated to the sweet singing voice of SL performer, AleyKat, before the awards for the Arts were presented by Jill MacKenzie and singer, LuvofMusicResident. Next, a singer who I haven’t heard perform before, but who instantly gained me as a fangirl, took to the stage – Luciano Lionheart. Luc sang a selection of hauntingly beautiful songs that showcased his wide vocal range and dulcet tones – much to the delight of the audience. Finally, show hosts Trader and Nuala wrapped up the very last AVI Choice Awards by surprising Nikki Mathieson with her own much deserved tribute. Nikki has played an integral part in all Relay For Life events over the years, and if anyone in SL deserves public recognition for their fundraising activities then surely it is her.

Photos: Austin Novaland

After the show, I asked Nikki what she hopes the legacy of the AVI Choice Awards will be. “The awards have never been about who is BEST,” she reflects. “It’s so unfair to try to judge 'best' in an amazing world such as ours.  I hope that our virtual community have gotten the message that when you find a favorite or a piece of work that just fits you so perfectly… take the time to let that creator know.  Complaints in the business world, online or not, are frequent.  But, appreciation and compliments not so much.  We all need to just take the time to notice good work and give acknowledgement for it.  We could all stop being so critical and start being appreciative and generous with our applause and gratitude.” As I left the awards and prepared to log off for much needed sleep, Nikki’s words resonated a great deal with me and made me realise that the AVI Choice Awards may be over, but that their positive impact will always remain.

Photos: Austin Novaland

Nikki Mathieson would like to thank: Jill MacKenzie, Dextresis Dejavu, Roman Godde, Trader Whiplash, Nuala Maracas, Shayla Juran and all performers, presenters and crew.
AVI Choice Awards Nominees and Winners:

AVI Choice Show by AVIEW TV:


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