OAF News

Gina Wilkinson Prize Launches Fall Campaign

  • Fundraising campaign to double annual prize money and grow fund
  • Call for 2022 nominations now open

Toronto, October 1, 2021 – After celebrating its 10th year, the reimagined Gina Wilkinson Prize is launching a fundraising campaign to double the recipient amount and grow the Gina Wilkinson Prize fund. 

While over half of the $100,000 fundraising goal has been reached, your help is still needed! If you are able to give at this time to help us reach our goal by March 10th, 2022, any contribution is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!

- The Gina Wilkinson Prize Committee

Leadership can be lonely and it is possible to lose your faith. To get the “twisties,” to borrow a term from the gymnasts. Where am I in time and space? Have I lost my way? Does what I am doing even matter?

The gift of Gina’s Prize is recognition that one’s work is visible and valued, and maybe, just maybe, contributing to making change in the world. Being recognized with Gina’s Prize has reminded me that everything we do, and how we do it, matters.  
Saskatoon, Treaty 6 Territory, and the homeland of the Métis

Read more about the impact of Gina’s Prize on past recipients here.

Call for Nominations

Nomination Period:         October 1, 2021 – December 15, 2021
Award Announcement:    March 10, 2022

Theatre artists from underrepresented genders which includes cis women, trans women, and non-binary folks who have acquired foundational training (from a training program or through experience) and have worked for at least 2 years are eligible for Gina’s Prize. Artists must also be Canadian citizens or have permanent resident status, as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or as a self-identifying Indigenous artist.

The Prize
Gina’s Prize is awarded annually, offering financial support to an inspirational theatre artist with a demonstrated body of work and who is recognized by their community (-ies) for their practice, leadership and dedication to their craft. 

A prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the winning artist.
A prize of $2,500 will be awarded to each of two shortlisted artists.
Past nominated artists may re-apply.

The Process
1. A nomination letter from an artistic collaborator, (with a maximum of one additional support letter if desired), who can speak to the nominee’s artistic practice, values, and the ways in which they create space and care for other artists. 
2. In the spirit of Gina’s interdisciplinary artistry (dancer, visual artist, actor, director, playwright) nominated artists may submit: 

  • a written document
  • or one of the following to a maximum of 5 minutes: video vignette, photos, mixed media, movement piece or other, to share with us.

Tell us about your work/rehearsal space:

  • How is your artistic practice/leadership creating new models of working and storytelling? 
  • How do your values inform your practice/leadership and how does your work embody them?
  • How does your practice/leadership serve your community(-ies)?
  • What is your vision for the future of theatre art?
  • What is your hope for future generations of theatre artists?

3.      The nominated artist’s headshot and CV 

Nominators please email all materials to:ginasprize@gmail.com

Deadline: December 15, 2021

About the Prize

Gina's Prize honours a woman-identifying theatre artist/leader who is exploring new models of storytelling in the diverse theatre communities in what is now known as Canada. The Prize pays tribute to Gina Wilkinson, who passed away in 2010, and whose dedication, vision and indomitable spirit imbued her work and her life.

Gina’s interdisciplinary artistry as a dancer, visual artist, actor, playwright and director established herself as a daring, strong, inventive leader and collaborator in the Canadian theatre. She believed in the necessity of fun in the rehearsal hall, on and off stage, and in all aspects of one’s life. In the spirit of Gina's appetite for life, the Prize of $10,000 is a gift to be used in any way the recipient chooses.

Gina’s Prize honours artists who work across Turtle Island on both treaty and unceded territories. Through this prize, we look to acknowledge and amplify their relationship to the land they live on and the communities they serve.   


For more information about the Award:
Krista Jackson & Kimberley Rampersad, Committee Co-Leaders

For more information about the Ontario Arts Foundation:

Bruce Bennett, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | bbennett@oafdn.ca

Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2020-2021, the OAF paid out over $5.1 million in endowment income and $220,000 in awards and scholarships.

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Peter Chin awarded the inaugural Eldred Family Dance Award

Toronto, September 7, 2021 – Peter Chin is the recipient of the inaugural $20,000 Eldred Family Dance Award. This biennial award recognizes exceptional achievement and creative ability in dance by an established Ontario choreographer.

About Peter Chin 
Peter Chin is a multidisciplinary artist born in Jamaica, and based in Toronto and Cambodia. He has been part of the cultural life of Toronto for almost 50 years, starting with singing in Massey Hall in 1972. Peter Chin is the founder and artistic director of dance-driven trans-disciplinary company Tribal Crackling Wind, and co-founder and director of the NKK International Dance Centre in Siem Reap Cambodia. Chin has been described as a renaissance man of the dance world, and is recognized as a composer / musician, choreographer / dancer, designer, writer and filmmaker. His works have received 5 Dora Mavor Moore awards, and many nominations. Chin has also received a Gemini award for his performance in the film ‘Streetcar’ by Nick DePencier. He was also an inaugural winner of the K.M. Hunter Artist Awards - Interdisciplinary Arts category, and has been recognized with the Muriel Sherrin Award, among others.

Chin’s works have been presented across Canada, United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Columbia, Amsterdam, UK, Cambodia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan.

In Ontario, Peter Chin has been proud to have worked with many foundational arts organizations including Toronto Dance Theatre, the National Ballet of Canada, Dancemakers, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Array Music, the Evergreen Contemporary Gamelan Club, Esprit Orchestra, Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre, DanceWorks, CanAsian, as well as many distinguished individual artists and independent companies. He has been honoured with commissions and presentations in Peterborough, Mississauga, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Toronto.

Jury Comments 
The jury was unanimous in their choice of Peter Chin as laureate for the inaugural Eldred Family Dance Award. They said, “Peter’s brilliant choreography shines equally in his work for solo and ensemble. His dances are thoughtful and precise. A multidisciplinary artist, his craftsmanship is demonstrated through his inherent sense of musicality and enriched by his own compositions. Peter’s achievements as an independent artist throughout his artistic journey are prodigious.”

Peter Chin was selected by the following assessment panel:  Rosemary James (Toronto, ON), choreographer, dance instructor and Rehearsal Director at the Toronto Dance Theatre; and Shara Weaver (Gatineau, QC), choreographer, dance instructor and Co-Director at Propeller Dance.

Travel with Tribal Promo Video, Tribal Crackling Wind, 2021.

About the Award
The Eldred Family Dance Award was established at the Ontario Arts Foundation by the late Gerald (Gerry) Eldred, distinguished Canadian arts executive, and the late Marjorie Eldred, former National Ballet School academic teacher. The award recognizes exceptional achievement and creative ability in dance by an established Ontario choreographer. The winner is chosen through a nominating and adjudication process managed by the Ontario Arts Council. 


For more information, please contact:
Bruce Bennett, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | bbennett@oafdn.ca


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2020-2021, the OAF paid out over $5.1 million in endowment income and $220,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 55 years, the Ontario Arts Council has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts and artists for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2020-2021, the Ontario Arts Council invested $78.6 million in 206 communities across Ontario through 2,176 grants to individual artists and 1,312 grants to organizations.

Ce document existe également en français.

2021 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards presented to Heather M. O’Connor, Claudia Dávila and Wesley King

Toronto, June 22, 2021 – The 2021 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today by the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF). 

The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from Admiral Collingwood Elementary School in Collingwood, Ontario.  A jury of grade 4 students selected the recipients of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 8 students selected the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.

Each student juror read the books individually and then worked with their group to reach consensus and choose a winner - this year, via videoconference. This teamwork-based process reinforces leadership and decision-making skills for the students.

Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category

Fast Friends
by Heather M. O'Connor (Peterborough, Ont.)
illustrations by Claudia Dávila (Toronto, Ont.)
Scholastic Canada Ltd.

About the Book

Tyson does everything fast – so fast he often disrupts the class. Suze, the new girl, is nonverbal with special needs. Sometimes her classmates don’t know what those needs are. But taking the time to interpret her cues, Tyson forms a special friendship with Suze, and teaches his classmates what it means to listen and understand others. Fast Friends emphasizes how two kids with different challenges and strengths find they are just what the other needs to navigate classroom life.

“Tyson and Suze share a love of going fast,” noted the student jury. “Even though Suze uses a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean she wants to go slow. Other people just didn’t see what Suze wanted.”

Every kid dreams of being the hero of the stories they read, but books about differently-abled children are rare," said author Heather M. O'Connor.  "Thank you to the nomination committee for including Fast Friends on this prestigious shortlist and to the jury of young readers for honouring a story in which everyone belongs."

“It’s such an honour to receive this very special award, selected by the most important group of readers there is – children!,” said illustrator Claudia Dávila. “Kids always see in stories and characters what is in the hearts of others, especially when the story is of inclusion and friendship.”

About the Author

Fast Friends is Heather M. O’Connor’s first picture book. She also writes short stories, fantasy and historical fiction, and her first novel, The Betting Game, was published in 2015. This is her first book to be nominated for a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.

About the Illustrator

Claudia Dávila writes, illustrates and designs books for kids of all ages, with stories and themes that encourage children to be strong, thoughtful, compassionate and responsible people. A former art director at Chirp and Chickadee magazines, she also wrote and illustrated the graphic novel series The Future According To Luz. This is her first book to be nominated for a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.

Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category


Sara and the Search for Normal 
by Wesley King (Lake Echo, N.S.)
Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books 

About the Book

Sara wants one thing: to be normal. What she has instead are multiple diagnoses. Sara’s constant battle with False Alarm – what she calls panic attacks – and other episodes cause her to isolate herself. But when she starts group therapy she meets someone new. Talkative and outgoing Erin doesn’t believe in “normal,” and Sara finds herself in unfamiliar territory – in short, with a friend. But there’s more to Erin than her cheerful exterior, and Sara begins to wonder if helping Erin will mean sacrificing their friendship.


“We loved reading about Sara’s heartbreaking, messy life,” said the student jury. “Her story took us on a journey of acceptance, as we learned with her that our differences are part of what make us who we are.”

“I am deeply grateful that Sara's journey connected with the jury,” said Wesley King. “I write for young readers, so it means so much more when they decide on a winner. Thank you to the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Arts Foundation for continuing to administer this wonderful award, and a huge congratulations to the other nominees – it was a fantastic shortlist.”

About the Author
Wesley King is the author of 11 books, including the Vindico series and, with Kobe Bryant, the Wizenard series. Sara and the Search for Normal is a prequel to his novel OCDaniel, which was chosen as the winner of the 2017 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award (Young Adult / Middle Reader Award category).

About the Awards 

  • The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters. The awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.
  • Two awards of $6,000 each are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
  • The Ontario Arts Foundation administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, which manages the nomination and jury process.
  • See the full details on the award and the list of previous laureates.


Shoshana Wasser, Senior Communications Coordinator, Ontario Arts Council
416-969-7434/1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434 | swasser@arts.on.ca


Ann Boyd, Director of Administration, Ontario Arts Foundation
416-969-7411 | aboyd@oafdn.ca


The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario.  In 2019-2020, the OAF paid $4.25 million in endowment income and $270,000 in awards and scholarships. 

For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2019-2020, OAC invested $51.9 million in 197 communities across Ontario through 1,965 grants to individual artists and 1,152 grants to organizations.

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