Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts

Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts

The Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts celebrate the outstanding achievements of Ontario’s arts community and its contributions to a strong, vibrant culture sector. Now in its 10th year, the program recognizes artists and arts organizations whose contributions span a significant period of time.

2017 nomination deadline: December 1, 2016

Any Ontario resident who enjoys and takes an interest in Ontario’s arts and cultural industries may nominate an artist or arts organization for the awards. You may submit a nomination in one category only, for either the Artist Award or the Arts Organization Award, not both, per year.

Prizes are divided into two categories:

Artist Award:

  • The Artist Award recognizes a professional artist.
  • One laureate will receive a cash award of $35,000 and a framed certificate.
  • Five short-listed finalists will each receive $2,000 and a framed certificate.
  • The laureate will nominate a promising new or emerging individual talent in the same field who will receive a cash award of $15,000 and a framed certificate. 

Arts Organization Award:

  • The Arts Organization Award is given to an arts organization involved in the production and/or distribution of artistic work by professional artists.
  • One laureate will receive a cash award of $50,000 and a framed certificate. 
  • Five short-listed finalists will each receive $2,000 and a framed certificate.

The 2016 winners will be announced on October 5 during a reception at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

2016 Finalists


Christi Belcourt

Christi Belcourt
Visual Arts — Espanola

Christi Belcourt is a Michif (Métis) visual artist and author whose ancestry originates from the Métis historic community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. Like generations of Indigenous artists before her, she celebrates the beauty of the natural world while exploring nature’s symbolic properties. Her work can be found in the public collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Indian and Inuit Art Collection, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Museum of History and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. In 2014 she won the Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award and in 2016 was named an inaugural winner of the Governor General's Innovation Award.

David Buchbinder

David Buchbinder
Music — Toronto

David Buchbinder is a JUNO award-winning trumpeter, composer, bandleader and cultural inventor. He presents large-scale performance projects, has toured across the Americas and Europe, and has earned a reputation as one of the leading lights in the Canadian world music and jazz scenes. David is founding artistic director of the world-renowned Ashkenaz Festival, North America’s premier celebration of Jewish music and culture, as well as founder and artistic director of the creativity-based urban transformation organization Diasporic Genius. He is also the creator/producer of many multidisciplinary performances and was one of the inaugural resident artists at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

George Elliott Clarke

George Elliott Clarke
Literature — Toronto

George Elliott Clarke is a poet, novelist and playwright, serving as the seventh Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016–17) and fourth Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012–15). Now teaching African-Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has also taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, as well as appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. He has been recognized with a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation fellowship, the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.

Dwayne Morgan

Dwayne Morgan
Literature — Toronto

Dwayne Morgan is a poet and spoken word artist who has been performing since 1993. He is the founder of Up From The Roots Entertainment, promoting the positive contributions of African Canadian and urban-influenced artists. Dwayne has released several albums and published eight books, most recently his first children’s book, Before I Was Born. He has received numerous honours including the Planet Africa Renaissance Award for Career Achievement, the African Canadian Achievement Award, the Black Business and Professional Association’s Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in the Arts, three Canadian Urban Music Awards and a star on the Scarborough Walk of Fame. He is the host of Poetically Speaking on Afroglobal Television.

Lata Pada

Lata Pada
Dance — Mississauga

Lata Pada is the founder and artistic director of Sampradaya Dance Creations, an award-winning company at the forefront of Indian dance in Canada. She has had an extensive international career as a soloist in bharatanatyam (a classical dance form) and heads the Sampradaya Dance Academy, Canada’s premier training organization for bharatanatyam. Lata holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from York University and is an adjunct professor in their graduate program. She is a recipient of many honours including the Order of Canada (2010) and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (2011), awarded by the President of India for her outstanding contribution to the Indian arts in Canada.

Larry Towell

Larry Towell
Media Arts — Bothwell

A photographer, poet, filmmaker and musician, Larry Towell has travelled across the globe documenting the struggles of the world’s most dispossessed — from the peasants of El Salvador to the Palestinians, from Mennonite migrant farm workers to the “disappeared” of Guatemala. His evocative photographs of his own family also capture the memories and milestones of day-to-day life in rural Ontario. As Canada’s most decorated photojournalist, Larry is the first Canadian member of the prestigious Magnum Photos agency, the author of 13 books and the recipient of major international prizes, including the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award. His work is exhibited and collected worldwide.

Arts Organizations

A Different Booklist - logo

A Different Booklist
Literature — Toronto

A Different Booklist is an independent bookstore and literary cultural destination in Toronto, respected nationally and internationally for its specialty in books by African Canadian and Caribbean writers. Since everything in life is connected to books, A Different Booklist also serves as a meeting point and hub where generations and ideas can intersect, as well as a catalyst for multiple conversations. From across the province to across Canada and beyond, the bookstore’s focus on diversity, equity and social justice has enabled it to partner with and support innovative diverse literary projects, reflecting the Canadian mosaic.

Dusk Dances - logo

Dusk Dances
Dance — Toronto

Dusk Dances is a curated, site-specific dance event that brings high-quality contemporary and traditional choreographic works to public parks, at sunset. As dusk descends, a theatrical host leads the audience to eclectic dance pieces that unfold in different areas of the park. Bringing together exceptional artists and members of the general public, Dusk Dances is not only an artistic event, but a social and cultural one as well. Its innovative performance model and “pay-what-you-can” ticketing makes the event accessible physically, financially and artistically to all.

Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography - logo

Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography
Visual Arts — Toronto

Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography is a non-profit artist-run centre committed to photography as a multifaceted and ever-changing art form. It was founded in 1979 to establish a supportive environment for the development of contemporary photography. The centre offers exhibition and publication opportunities to national and international artists, as well as award-winning education programs and affordable production facilities for artists. Through its programs, Gallery 44 is engaged in changing conceptions of the photographic image and its modes of production.

International Festival of Authors - logo

International Festival of Authors
Literature — Toronto

International Festival of Authors (IFOA) has grown remarkably since its inception in 1974, when writers and audience members ventured to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre to hear readings by Canadian authors. 1980 saw the introduction of the festival as a large annual event with a mandate to present the best literary talents from around the globe. Eighteen authors read during the first edition of the festival. In the years since, over 9,500 published authors from more than 100 countries (including 21 Nobel laureates) have appeared on the festival’s stage.

Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto - logo

Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto
Media Arts — Toronto

The Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) is an artist-run organization that provides media arts education and production resources for independent filmmakers and artists. Founded in 1981 by a small collective, it has grown to become one of the foremost centres of its kind globally. LIFT provides support and encouragement through affordable access to production, post-production and exhibition equipment; professional and creative development; workshops and courses; commissioning and exhibitions; artist residencies; and a variety of other services.

Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orléans - logo

Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orléans
Multidisciplinary — Ottawa

Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orléans (MIFO) was founded in 1979 and opened its doors as a cultural centre in 1984. Today, they provide programming across artistic disciplines, along with community activities and services for children and seniors. MIFO’s programs are known for shining a spotlight on Francophone culture and for promoting Francophone cultural expression in Orléans and the surrounding area. Meeting the community’s artistic, cultural and educational needs, they are respected as a key local organization.