OAF News

The Ellen Ross Stuart Opening Doors Award - Call for Applications

Toronto, July 18, 2019 - The Ellen Ross Stuart Opening Doors Award - Call for Applications

About the Award

To celebrate the too short life of Ellen Ross Stuart (Nel), the Ellen Ross Stuart Opening Doors Award was created in 2017 to "Open Doors" by empowering young writers to actively engage in their craft in association with Tarragon Theatre, the Blyth Festival, and Hart House Theatre.

Over the course of a two-year period, the recipients of the award will work closely with our partner theatres to create a script that will be showcased in workshop form at the Tarragon Theatre in May 2021.

The prize awards each recipient a total of $9,000 over three intervals to support the development of their work, in addition to funding the culminating workshop.


  • Are you between 21 and 30 years of age
  • Have had your plays performed in a post-secondary institution, community theatre, theatre festival or playwright’s unit
  • Have completed appropriate training at a post-secondary level
  • Have an exciting idea that will engage an audience of your peers in their 20’s

The purpose of this award is to connect artists with professional contacts and is therefore not designed for people who have pre-existing work/working relationships with PACT companies.

Application Guidelines and Forms can be found at:
Ontario Arts Foundation

For further information please contact:
Autumn Smith
General Manager

Joanna Yu honoured with the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design

Toronto, June 24, 2019 – Toronto-based set and costume designer, Joanna Yu is the 2019 recipient of the $20,000 Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design.  The award is given annually to professional costume designers in Ontario in mid-career to further enrich their careers through research and travel.

About Joanna Yu

Joanna Yu has designed costumes and sets for many performing arts organizations across Canada including the Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Young People’s Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Neptune Theatre, the Grand, Why Not Theatre, Factory Theatre, Obsidian, Nightwood, Cahoots, Musical Stage Co., Theatre Passe Muraille and the Blyth Festival. Joanna has been an Assistant Designer with Soulpepper, Canadian Opera Company and the Stratford Festival.

She has been a guest artist/designer at Humber College, Sheridan College, George Brown College, Ryerson University, Randolph Academy for the Arts and has guest lectured at York University.

Recipient of the 2017 Pauline McGibbon Award, Joanna’s upcoming credits include set designs for Much Ado about Nothing and Measure for Measure at Canadian Stage Shakespeare in High Park, set and costumes for the world premiere of Kat Sandler’s Yaga at Tarragon Theatre, and set and costumes for Pinocchio at Young People’s Theatre.

Jury Comments

The jury was unanimous in their choice of Joanna Yu as the 2019 laureate, stating “Joanna’s work is beautiful and reflects a wide breadth of expression. Her designs have a strong understanding of palette, texture, proportion and history. Joanna shows curiosity and artistic whimsy in her of pattern. Virginia Cooper created this award to celebrate the love of creation. Joanna’s costumes are a perfect manifestation of that wish.”

Joanna Yu was selected by a jury comprising David Boechler, costume designer (Toronto), Patricia Flood, costume designer, educator, author (Guelph), and Tamara Marie Kucheran costume designer, 2017 Cooper laureate (Stratford).

"The Aeneid", Stratford Festival 2016. Director: Keira Loughran Photo by: David Hou. Pictured clockwise from left: Karen Robinson, Bahareh Yaraghi, Saamer Usmani, Josue Laboucane, Gareth Potter, Michael Spencer-Davis

About the Award

Established through a generous gift under the will of Dr. Virginia Cooper, the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award is to be given "For the Love of Creation".  Dr. Cooper served as a director of the Tarragon Theatre, and was a charter member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto and active in its activities.  She had a keen interest in the performing arts, particularly in costume design. 

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the award, and the Ontario Arts Council manages the nomination and adjudication process.

Previous award winners include:  Gillian Gallow (2018), Tamara Marie Kucheran (2017) and Camellia Koo (2016).  See the full list of previous recipients here.


For more information, please contact:
Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2018-2019, the OAF paid out over $4.35 million in endowment income and $315,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 50 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 2018-2019, the Ontario Arts Council invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations.

Colleen Nelson, Wab Kinew and Joe Morse honoured with 2019 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards

Toronto, June 14, 2019 – The 2019 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today at Scarborough’s Eastview Public School - a school with a large Indigenous community, offering Ojibwa language instruction and other indigenous programming.

The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from the school – a jury of grade 3 and 4 students selected the recipients of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 7 and 8 students selected the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.

Each student read the books individually and then worked together with their group to reach consensus and decide on a winner. This process makes it a unique literary award in Canada.

Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes

by Wab Kinew (Winnipeg, Man.)
illustrations by Joe Morse (Oakville, Ont.)
Tundra Books

About the Book

Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the U.S. and Canada, some well-known and some not-so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: “We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let's show the world what people who matter can do.”

What Students Said

  • “This was my favourite book because it showed be how to be positive and how to be a hero.”
  • “I liked that the first part of the book is a poem, and that the second part has information about the heroes’ lives.”
  • “The illustrations are beautiful. The artist made all the people in the story look like heroes!”
  • “I loved the message of the book.”


About the Author

Wab Kinew is a musician and former journalist who is now leader of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba. He was previously Associate Vice-President for Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg, and is the author of the award-winning memoir The Reason You Walk.

About the Illustrator

Artist Joe Morse is known for his portraits of celebrities and sports stars. The recipient of more than 200 international awards, he has been commissioned by organizations from Universal Pictures to the New York Times. He is also the Coordinator of the Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College.

Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category



by Colleen Nelson (Winnipeg, Man.)
Dundurn Press

About the Book

Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi is passionate about one thing: basketball. When tryouts for an elite team are announced, Sadia jumps at the opportunity. Her talent speaks for itself. Her head scarf, on the other hand, is a problem; especially when a discriminatory rule means she has to choose between removing her hijab and not playing. Sadias parents, friends and her teammates all have different opinions about what she should do. But it is Sadia who has to find the courage to stand up for herself and fight for what is right on and off the court.

What Students Said 

  • “I really liked how the author took us inside of Sadia’s head. We learned by listening to the way Sadia thought through her challenges.”
  • “This book had a lot to teach us like the value of fighting back versus hanging back.”
  • “It does a good job showing how people are judged by their looks. Every character does it, even Sadia.”
  • “The storyline about Amira, a character who escaped from war, helped me learn what it would be like to be in that situation.”
  • “I liked the message that ‘education is important … if you want to change the world."


About the Author 

Colleen Nelson is a teacher and an award-winning Young Adult author whose previous novels include Blood Brothers and Finding Hope.  

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.
  • 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. These awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.
  • 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


Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation
416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca


The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario.  In 2018-2019, the OAF paid $4.35 million in endowment income and $315,000 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 2018-2019, OAC invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations.

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