Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award

Celebrating an individual who has demonstrated creative cultural leadership in arts and culture in Toronto

Deadline: Accepting nominations from September 4 - November 18, 2024 (for an award presentation in 2025)

About: The Toronto Arts Foundation Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award is a $10,000 cash prize, with finalists receiving $1,000. The award celebrates an individual artist, creator, volunteer or administrator who has demonstrated creative cultural leadership in the development of arts and culture in Toronto. The award is supported in part by John and Raphaela Dunlap. The finalist awards are supported by Neera Chopra. The Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award is presented every two years at the Toronto Arts Awards Lunch.

About Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies:
Established in 1995 as the Margo Bindhardt Award, the Award was re-named the Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award in 2000 to honour Margo Bindhardt, past president of the Toronto Arts Council and inaugural president of Toronto Arts Foundation, and Rita Davies, Toronto Arts Council’s and Toronto Arts Foundation’s first Executive Director, and to recognize their contributions to Toronto’s arts and culture sector.

In addition to serving on the board of Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation, Margo Bindhardt served as the president of the Canadian Opera Company,  president of the Art Gallery of Ontario, and was on the boards of the Ballet Opera House Corporation, Young People's Theatre, the Toronto Arts Awards and the Toronto International Festival, among others. She was said to be an enduring model of the spirit of volunteerism, community service and contribution to the arts.

In 1982, Rita Davies joined Toronto Arts Council (TAC) as its first Executive Director and only staff member. During her tenure she drove TAC to strengthen its peer-review process, raise public profile of the arts, provide support to previously under-served artists from Toronto’s many specific cultural communities, and develop the Arm’s Length Grant Agreement – the first-ever legal document between a municipality and an arts agency to blend peer review with public accountability. She was also appointed Executive Director of the Toronto Arts Foundation when it was established in 1995. Rita Davies departed the organizations in 1999, and remains an active arts advocate today.

Eligibility Criteria:

• must have demonstrated an ongoing association with Toronto
• must have contributed significantly to the arts and culture of Toronto
• must be living at time of selection
• may not nominate themselves for the award
• may only receive this award once  
• are not eligible to nominate or receive Toronto Arts Foundation awards while serving as an executive board member or staff of Toronto Arts Foundation or Toronto Arts Council

No person may be selected for more than one Toronto Arts Foundation award within any given year. No person may receive the same Toronto Arts Foundation award twice. This does not preclude a recipient from being considered for a different Toronto Arts Foundation award in the future.

Full Eligibility Guidelines for 2023 Awards (PDF)

How to Apply: To nominate an individual for the Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award you must,

  • Visit the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal
  • Register an account on the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal or sign in to your existing account
  • Submit the nomination online, complete with supporting material


Along with the name of the individual you are nominating, the nomination form will also ask for a biography, a nomination rationale, and accompanying support material in the form of visual, audio or text-based attachments.

Nominators can save their application at any time before submission by clicking ‘Save Draft’. Nominators can log-in and out of the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal as  many times as needed before clicking ‘Submit’.

* Please ensure you are on/ register through the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal and not Toronto Arts Council’s TAC Grants Online.

Selection Procedure: A jury of up to 10 members will review nomination profiles and select a shortlist and recipient recommendation for this award. Toronto Arts Foundation’s Board of Directors will make final determinations. Each jury is comprised of participants who are practitioners of the arts, organizers, programmers, producers, curators, critics, commentators and lay specialists.

This award is presented in recognition of a body of creative accomplishment, rather than for specific works or achievements. In addition to specific requirements for each award, deliberations will be guided by the following assessment criteria: artistic strength and achievement; strength of the candidate’s artistic goals and objectives; contribution to the development of arts and culture in Toronto; and the candidate’s overall public impact including public engagement and animation.

Contact Info: For questions, please contact Jaclyn Rodrigues at jaclyn[at]torontoarts[dot]org.

Click here to see all of our awards. 


Read full bios of all 2023 Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award finalists

Naomi Johnson – curator/programmer, arts administrator and Executive Director for imagineNATIVE

D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor – conductor, clinician, adjudicator, lecturer and Founder and Artistic Director of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Ann and David Powell – Founders of Puppetmongers Theatre


Go to Finalists and Recipients to view bios of past Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award recipients, dating back to 2011.

2023: Naomi Johnson
2021: Denise Bolduc
2019: Nina Lee Aquino
2017: Jacoba Knaapen
2015: Scott Miller-Berry
2013: Robert Foster and Che Kothari
2011: Jane Marsland