Ontario Announces Winners of Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts

GTA Weekly News
Kathleen Wynne Premier of Ontario

11th Annual Ceremony Celebrates Outstanding Ontario-Based Artists and Arts Organizations

Premier Kathleen Wynne is honouring exceptional contributions by artists and arts organizations from across Ontario.

Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, announced the winners of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts at a ceremony last night at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto.

The awards recognize Ontario’s professional artists and arts organizations for extraordinary achievements that strengthen Ontario’s vibrant culture sector. Artists and organizations working in publishing, dance, theatre, music, craft, visual arts, media arts, literature and multidisciplinary arts are eligible for these awards.

Kent Monkman, a painter, sculptor, filmmaker and performer of Cree ancestry, won the Individual Arts Award. His work, which often challenges myths and narratives, has been featured in exhibitions across North America and internationally. Recent projects include Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, a large touring exhibition commissioned for Canada 150.

The Emerging Artist of the Year Award went to Brian Rideout, a visual artist working in representational painting. His work investigates contemporary images, sourced from print and online, for their historical and artistic relevance.

Debajehmujig Storytellers won in the Arts Organization category. Debajehmujig Storytellers is one of Canada’s foremost Indigenous creation companies and the country’s first, and only, professional theatre company located on a reserve. The company shares the Anishinaabek language, culture and heritage with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people through original creative expression.

Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • The Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts program is administered by the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). Winners are selected by a jury of artists and arts professionals.
  • The winning artist receives $35,000 and also selects an emerging artist, who receives $15,000. The winning arts organization receives $50,000, and the finalists in each category receive $2,000.
  • The culture sector generates more than $25 billion annually for Ontario’s economy and supports about 280,000 jobs.
  • Ontario has committed $50 million in additional funding to the OAC over the next four years. This will increase the government’s funding to the OAC for arts programs provincewide from $60 million to $80 million annually by 2020–21.
  • The nomination period for the 2018 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts runs until December 5, 2017. Any resident of Ontario may submit a nomination.

Additional Resources


“Art challenges us and inspires us to think beyond our experience — and even beyond what seems possible. I am honoured to recognize the winners and finalists in this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts for their outstanding contributions to our vibrant cultural life in Ontario. The work you do educates and provokes us. Art in every form shows us new perspectives and provides opportunities to bring communities together. Thank you for everything you do to make Ontario a richer, more interesting place for us all.”

Kathleen Wynne

Premier of Ontario

“Congratulations to the laureates and finalists of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. The passion you bring to your work inspires us and fuels the extraordinary cultural life of our communities. Artistic expression encourages thought, sparks creativity and challenges us to look at things differently. It’s my hope that these awards will shine a spotlight on the wonderful work that the talented laureates and finalists do. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the many positive benefits that the arts can bring to our lives.”

Eleanor McMahon

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

“We are delighted to recognize Kent Monkman, Debajehmujig Storytellers and Brian Rideout as this year’s laureates. Each of them offers a distinctive vision of how the arts can influence our lives and society — by reimaging history, developing community and exploring representation. Congratulations to the three laureates, and all of the 2017 finalists.”

Rita Davies

Chair, Ontario Arts Council

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