Quotes from Laureates

"What did winning the Premier’s Award for Excellence mean to you?"


Brian Rideout

Brian Rideout

“ It was a huge honour to be nominated by Kent Monkman as the Emerging Artist for the Premier’s Award and to be recognized for the work that I do by such an important artist. I am a proud Ontarian and it’s incredible to have this type of support for artists and the arts from the Premier. Thank you. ”

Christi Belcourt

Christi Belcourt

“ I am deeply honoured to have been named the 2016 recipient of the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. It’s so humbling to have been selected from such a strong group of finalists, each of whom is equally deserving. I donated the $35,000 prize money to the Onaman Collective, in support of the important work we are doing with Indigenous youth. Starting May 1st of 2017, we are starting to build a place on the land where youth and Elders can come to spend time with each other, where Ojibway language (Anishinaabemowin) and traditional knowledge can thrive, and spirituality and worldview are learned directly from the land and waters. ”

Christi Belcourt, Michif (Métis) visual artist and author, won the 2016 Individual Artist Award.

Christian Chapman

Christian Chapman

“ It was huge to be chosen as this year's Emerging Artist by Christi Belcourt, who is such an amazing person and artist. It is very meaningful to be recognized for doing the work I'm so passionate about. The prize will help me to keep doing what I do — telling the stories that I grew up with. ”

Christian Chapman, an Anishinabe visual artist and filmmaker, was honoured as the 2016 Emerging Artist of the Year.

Jane Bunnett

Jane Bunnett

“The Premier’s Award has provided me with a huge emotional lift. I was nominated in a category with exceptional artists who are all doing amazing work. This is a huge endorsement.  This award will inspire me to continue reaching for excellence, new cultures and attracting new audiences. Of course, the money awarded will help me with my music and the production of my next record.   Thanks- this is a huge honour!”

Musician Jane Bunnett is the 2015 Premier’s Awards of Excellence in the Arts Artist Laureate.

Christopher Butcher

Christopher Butcher

 “I am deeply touched that Jane Bunnett nominated me. As someone who broke barriers in jazz, Jane has been an inspiration to many musicians and is an incredible mentor to me. I am looking forward to continuing my musical education in New Orleans thanks in part to the award.  I will be able to come back with a new hybrid of influences Like Toronto and its musical variety; we are at a tipping point becoming a unique multicultural epicentre for music.”

Jane Bunnett nominated Musician Christopher Butcher as her choice for best emerging artist at the 2015 Premier’s Awards.

Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle

“I am very thankful for the Premier’s Award as it afforded me deliberate time for my writing. I was inspired to write and to complete three books including Memory Serves and other oratories, Talking to the Diaspora and Looking for my Father’s Landscape. The first two are out and the third is a novel in progress. I was also given the opportunity to organize new projects and complete administrative work.

First Nations Writer, Lee Maracle is a 2014 Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts Laureate.”

Jason Baerg

Jason Baerg

“The Premier’s Award validated my practice and gave me extra fuel to reach for the goal of becoming a professional artist. Seven years later, I am still pushing innovative boundaries in digital interventions in drawing, painting and new media installation. I am extremely grateful for this recognition and support.

Cree Metis Visual Artist Jason Baerg was recognized as a 2008 Premiere's Award emerging artist by Ron Noganosh.”

Lydia Adams, Conductor of the Elmer Iseler Singers and The Amadeus Choir

Lydia Adams

“This extremely important award puts the spotlight on artists in this great province. I feel that the award was a wonderful acknowledgement of my choirs including The Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, the Elmer Iseler Singers; and the choral community as a whole, including the many choral singers: children, amateurs and professionals in Ontario who know and experience the power, beauty and passion of choral singing as a truly positive and unifying force in our world. This award gives artists the acknowledgement that they are respected and recognized for all the years they have worked to create excellence within their fields."

Lydia Adams, Conductor of the Elmer Iseler Singers and The Amadeus Choir, is a 2013 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts recipient.


Debajehmujig Storytellers

Debajehmujig Storytellers

“ The Debajehmujig-Storytellers are extremely honoured and humbled to be announced as the 2017 Laureate for the 'Premier's Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts' Organizational category. We wish to extend our deepest appreciation to our nominator Dr. Maurianne Reade, and to our jury of peers who had the extremely tough decision in finalizing the short list. The prestige associated with this honour allows us the platform to express those things that are most important to us as artists and storytellers. We work every day to strengthen our mission of sharing and educating about the Anishinabek to both Native and non-Native people with a view to improving the quality of life for indigenous people. Ultimately we hope to help restore the balance in the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the rest of Canada. The past three decades of our journey at Debajehmujig has brought us to the deep understanding that our ultimate goal is 'The perseveration of Humanity' and that in the immediate future the only story that will be of any importance will be the myth of the planet. ”

A Different Booklist Owners Itah and Miguel

A Different Booklist

 “On behalf of A Different Booklist, we would like to thank the jury of the Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and our nominator for this prestigious award. Thanks also to our amazing staff, customers and supporters who have all contributed to our success. This award is recognition of the vital importance of the bookstore to the community. It is a place where scholarship and community meet, where author and emerging writer find a home and a place where children and youth dare to dream! A Different Booklist – yours to discover.”

Itah Sadu and Miguel San Vicente, co-owners of A Different Booklist, are winners of the 2016 Arts Organization Award.

Soulpepper Theatre Company - Spoon River ensemble. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

Soulpepper Theatre Company

 “The award is a wonderful vote of confidence for what Soulpepper does.  It is also an important example of this government’s commitment to the cultural industry in Ontario. Shining a spotlight on our leading individuals and organizations is an important step to ensuring a vibrant arts landscape for all Ontarians. Soulpepper is honoured to be in this company. This award and its funding will be invested into the company’s growing activities and providing more employment for our artists.”

Albert Schultz, Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre Company. Soulpepper is the 2015 laureate of the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts- Arts Organization.

Ajay Heble

Guelph Jazz Festival

“Winning the Premier’s Award was a milestone achievement, and it provided a tremendous source of pride. The Guelph Jazz Festival was able to use the success, recognition, and prestige that came with winning to do many new and exciting things, including the launch of our very own multi-year Nuit Blanche project- an all-night celebration of creativity. The funding was instrumental in achieving some much-needed financial stability, and it enabled us to attract new staff and volunteers. The Premier’s Awards help to focus public attention on the vital role that arts and culture play in our communities.”

Artistic Director, Ajay Heble’s The Guelph Jazz Festival, is a Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts 2010 recipient.

Geneviève Pineault, Artistic Director, of Le Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario

Le Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario

 “Le Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario - TNO is recognized in our artistic community as a local and regional francophone theatre company of new works. Winning the Premier’s Award has provided acknowledgement of our artistic merit that was previously unimaginable.  For us it is a validation of 40 years of French-language theatre in Northeastern Ontario and the country through our regional tours. The Premier’s Award validates the emergence and solidification of Francophone dramaturgy in Canada. The money will help with future artistic projects or productions above and beyond what we can afford in the current funding structure.”

Geneviève Pineault, Artistic Director, of Le Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, Sudbury is a 2014 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts recipient.