Santee Smith to receive one of five legacy prizes

TORONTO – The Metcalf Foundation has announced the five winners of the inaugural Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène: multidisciplinary artist Santee Smith; playwright and theatre creator Sunny Drake; composer and classical pianist Alice Ping Yee Ho; composer James Rolfe; and world music performer and composer Maryem Tollar.

The five winners have been chosen from amongst fifteen finalists from across Ontario.

On December 12, 2019, within the Toronto’s Artscape Daniels Launchpad, the award winners will be recognized and awarded $25,000 each; in addition, the winners are set to have selected a protégé that will receive $5,000.

The five protégés are: Bilal Baig (Sunny Drake); Roydon Tse (Alive Ping Yee Ho); Sophie Dupuis (James Rolfe); Cody Berry (Santee Smith); and Demetrios Petsalakis (Maryem Tollar).

In 2005, Smith founded the Haudenosaunee company Kaha:wi Dance Theatre and has grown the company into an internationally renowned theatre of dance. Her artistic work utilizes choreography, music and performance to illustrate identity and Indigenous narratives. She has also become the chancellor of McMaster University in Hamilton.

In total, $150,000 in prizes will be awarded.

According to the Ontario Arts Council, a 2016 Census revealed the median income of a professional artist in the province is $23,454.

“It’s a troubling fact that the value of each Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize is more than the average artist in Ontario earns per year,” says Sandy Houston, President and CEO, Metcalf Foundation. “The goal of the Metcalf Prizes is to celebrate, elevate, and recognize performing artists in Ontario, and in part, alleviate some of the financial pressure that artists face, while supporting them in their careers.”

The Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes are named in honour of Johanna Metcalf, who was at the centre of the Foundation’s work for over forty years. These legacy prizes serve to honour artists in Ontario who have made an impact and show great dedication in the ongoing pursuit of their ambitious and visionary practices.

The winners include artists in the disciplines of dance, theatre, and music/opera, and have been producing and showing work for at least ten years. The prizes are meritorious and unrestricted.

The Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène will be delivered on a biennial basis in partnership with the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). The nominees were selected through several juried OAC competitions in dance, music/opera, and theatre, with additional focus on creators from the Francophone, Indigenous, and Northern communities.

Established in 1960, The George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation invests in three principal areas of focus: the performing arts, the environment, and poverty reduction. Through all of its work, the Foundation cultivates, supports, and celebrates those working on the frontlines of social change in order to improve the health and vibrancy of our communities, our culture, and the environment.

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