The Hamilton Arts Awards, which celebrates and builds awareness of the contributions that artists make to Hamilton, will hold its 2020 ceremonies via a video series throughout the course of Hamilton Arts Week, from June 11 – 20, 2020. The ceremony was originally scheduled for June 11, 2020 at Theatre Aquarius; but the format was shifted due to COVID-19. The rescheduled ceremonies will proceed without an audience and instead be presented online only.

Five pre-recorded videos will be screened on Facebook and on the Arts Awards webpage beginning at 7pm on June 11, 2020. Videos will feature award presentations, expanded nominee profiles, interviews with award recipients and messages from Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and City Councillors. Two feature performances by celebrated Hamilton artists exploring the theme of “Resilience” will bookend the video series.

Nineteen awards totaling $35,000 will be presented in eleven disciplines. Award categories include arts innovation, the Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize in arts education and community arts, arts management, dance and performing arts, fine craft, media arts, music, theatre, writing and visual arts. A total of sixty-one artists were nominated for awards in 2020; down from over a hundred nominees in 2019.

All Established Artist, Community Leadership and the Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize in Arts Education and Community Arts nominations are evaluated by an independent jury comprised of discipline-specific artists and arts professionals.

Discipline-specific categories will have two award recipients apiece. Each category will have an “established” recipient, who will receive $2,500, and a commemorative bronze medal designed by artist Dora de Pédery-Hunt. Each established award nominee also nominates a corresponding “emerging” artist. If the established nominee receives the award in the category, their corresponding emerging artist wins that category as well. Emerging artist award recipients receive $1,000, a commemorative bronze medal and certificate.

The City will also present a lifetime achievement award. Nominees in this category include founder and Director of the MAD Creative Art School, Jude Johnson; historian and author Susan Evans Shaw and longtime musician and music teacher Ilona Spleit.

For a full list of award recipients and detailed bios of each, please visit

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