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Hamilton Artists Win Big At Provincial Performing Arts Awards

Tonight, at a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Metcalf Foundation announced the five winners of the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène (Johannas). Of the prize winners, two are Hamilton-based, while one of the prize-winning protégés works in the city.

Hamilton-based iskwē is one of this year’s prize winners

The Johannas celebrate artists in Ontario who have made a recognized impact on the field and the public, and are seen as playing a pivotal role in defining the performing arts sector’s future.

Hamilton-based iskwē is one of this year’s prize winners. iskwē is a Juno award winning artist and a creator and communicator of music and movement, pictures, poetry and prose. Through it all, she’s a teller of stories that have impacted our past and will inform our future. iskwē is Cree Métis from Treaty One Territory.

Hamilton-based Marilo Nuñez is one of this year’s prize winners

The other Hamilton-based winner is Marilo Nuñez, a Chilean-Canadian playwright, director, dramaturge and scholar. She is the 2022-23 Playwright-in-Residence at Carousel Players and has been a member of playwright units at Factory Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Cahoots Theatre, Alameda Theatre Company, and Nightwood Theatre. She was Aluna Theatre’s Playwright-in-Residence in 2015 and 2021, and McMaster University’s first Playwright-in-Residence in 2018.

Other winners are Ian Cusson; Ravi Jain, theatre director and Sandra Laronde, multidisciplinary artist.

Each winner received a prize of $25,000 and selected a protégé as a way of celebrating early career artists who are showing formidable promise. 

Aaron Jan, co-founder of Porch Light Theatre, was named protégé of award-winner Ravi Jain

Aaron Jan, protégé of award-winner Ravi Jain, is a Westdale Secondary School alum. While Jan is Toronto-based, he is also co-founder of Hamilton’s Porch Light Theatre; a collective dedicated to the development and support of youth and both emerging and professional theatre artists/storytellers.

Other protégés were Beverley McKiver, composer (protégé of Ian Cusson); Zeegwon “Zee” Shilling, musician (iskwē); Aria Evans, interdisciplinary artist (Sandra Laronde); and Margarita Valderrama, actor and playwright (Marilo Nuñez).

Protégés were awarded $10,000 each, a $5,000 increase from the inaugural prize year in appreciation of the particular challenges faced by artists growing into their careers over these last two years. 

The total value of the prizes at $175,000 provides a significant boost to Ontario’s performing arts community following the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This performing arts prize is named in honour of Johanna Metcalf, who was at the heart of the Metcalf Foundation’s work for over 40 years. The prize was created to amplify Johanna’s legacy as a passionate supporter of the arts and artists. Established in 2019, the Johannas celebrate artists in Ontario who have made a recognized impact on the field and the public, and show great promise in the ongoing pursuit of their ambitious and visionary practices.

The Johannas are delivered on a biennial basis in partnership with the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). The nominees are selected through several juried OAC competitions in dance, music/opera, and theatre, including creators from Francophone, Indigenous, and Northern communities. Artists who have been producing and showing work over a period of at least 10 years are eligible.

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