Artist Testimonials

Testimonials from past Toronto Arts Foundation Award recipients

A photo of the 2017 Arts for Youth Award recipient.


Emerging Artist Award:

Joshua Vettivelu (2019)

Being nominated for this award means that there is a willingness to engage with the things I create to assert my humanity and the humanity of those I hold with me. I’m an advocate for the importance of the arts because it has allowed me a way to speak to the world and have the world speak back to me.”

Jordan Tannahill (2014)

"This city is full to the brim with brilliant emerging artists and to be recognized among them was an incredible honour. It's a beautiful feeling to be celebrated by the community you call home. The prize also helped afford me the ability to pursue my art on a full-time basis, for which I am profoundly grateful." - Jordan Tannahill

Daniel Karasik (2013)

It was a tremendous honour to receive the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. It offered me crucial encouragement at a moment when I was asking difficult, doubtful questions about the civic significance of my work as an artist: it bought me time and psychological space to go deeper into those questions. The TAF Award marked the start of a movement in my artistic practice towards more explicitly political matters, issues that affect the city and community. Both symbolically and practically, it couldn't have come at a better time. And I couldn't be more grateful. – Daniel Karasik

Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition:

Lydia Adams (2012)

I felt tremendously honoured to have received the Roy Thomson Hall Award.

For me, I feel that the Award was a wonderful acknowledgement of the work of both my choirs, The Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and the Elmer Iseler Singers, and also the work of so many choral singers - children and adults, amateur and professional -  in Toronto, who know and experience the power, beauty and passion of choral singing as a truly positive and unifying force in our world. The Roy Thomson Hall Award provided a spotlight into the wonderful world of choral singing in our great city. Thank you. – Lydia Adams

Jose Ortega (2010)

“Receiving the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition was a huge turning point for myself and Lula, it was the moment I realized that the city had noticed the work that we had been doing since Lula was founded in 2002. It gave us a sense that we and the artists we collaborate with have earned a place in the cultural fabric of Toronto and what we did mattered to people beyond Dundas West. It was definitely a catalyst for institutions and the media seeing Lula not just as a venue but a cultural institution. I am forever grateful.” –Jose Ortega, 2010 Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition recipient

Richard Underhill (2008)

'Receiving the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition had a very positive impact on my career. Being recognized by ones peers as having contributed to the artistic and social fabric of the city that you love was a humbling experience that gave me a boost of confidence, energy and a real sense of civic pride. This generous award from the Toronto Arts Foundation encouraged me to take more musical chances, to mentor more young musicians and to work harder through my practice to become more involved in my community. The Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition gave my career a real lift as it imparted an extra level of credibility to my artistry and opened many doors that lead to interesting and challenging musical and multi disciplinary projects. The Mayor’s Arts Lunch is an inspiring event and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with artists from many different disciplines. To move forward as a society, we need to work together to bring harmony, trust and love to humanity. In a room full of such talented and dedicated people, this goal actually seems attainable. Thank you, Toronto Arts Foundation for the recognition, support and inspiration.' – Richard Underhill

Arts for Youth Award:

JAYU (2020)

“We understand the privilege of being nominated in a vibrant and artistic city like Toronto, where many incredible organizations support young people through the arts. Having our community nominate us for the second time affirms the importance of our work and the impact of the iAM Program, but most importantly, inspires us to continue striving to reach more youth.” 

CUE (2014)

"For a small, grassroots group like CUE to have been recognized with this prestigious award was totally wild for us. But, more importantly, this award acknowledged all of the visionary artists in our city who live and work and on the margins—the cutting-edge creators who face stigmatizations, barriers, oppressions, alienation and adversity, and because of this, are so often excluded from our larger cultural narrative—but also, because of this, have a heightened capacity to capture real and raw truth and beauty from absolutely critical perspectives. The entirety of this $15,000 award has, and will continue to go, directly into the hands of the artists we support." – Jason Samilski, Creative Director, CUE

Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award:

Miriam Adams (2009)

It was a great honour to be the recipient of the Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award in 2009. As a Toronto Arts Council Board member for a number of years, I had worked with both Margo and Rita and was witness to their commitment, exuberant energy and exceptional smarts. I am fortunate for the opportunity to have been a part of the TAC during those years … gaining a deeper knowledge of the arts community, while being able to contribute to the TAC’s celebration and support of the dynamic cultural activities in our city. The dedicated staff and board at Dance Collection Danse (DCD), an archives, museum and research centre, with whom I am the Co-founder/Director, has been working diligently for close to 30 years  and this award from the Toronto Arts Foundation has also enhanced our profile ― garnering further respect and acknowledgement for what some have called “a very well-kept secret”! Both I and DCD are grateful for this recognition and for the Toronto Arts Foundation’s rigorous and vigorous work. - Miriam Adams, C.M.

William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life:

Jini Stolk (2012)

I still feel touched and honoured by having won the 2012 William Kilbourn Award. It means all the world to me. It was unbelievably thrilling to hear my name called to receive an award “For the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life,” after a life-long career of being inspired by Toronto’s exceptional artists, and of joining forces with friends and colleagues to help make Toronto a more creative, vibrant, and culturally diverse city. So many collaborative projects, so many advocacy campaigns…and so much fun.  Thank you again, Toronto Arts Foundation, for the recognition and appreciation. – Jini Stolk

Joy Hughes (2002)

Receiving the William Kilbourn Award was indeed an unexpected honour and a very humbling experience for a behind the scenes person.  As an arts advocate and administrator always pleading for more funding for the arts, becoming a professional scrounger and trying to convince politicians the important role that the arts play in every society, it has been a challenging journey. It is the artists and people you meet along the way that make it so rewarding.

To be recognized for a labour of love and to realize that someone noticed  .... Thank you.... the privilege has always been mine...

Congratulations on twenty years of awards and recognition for Arts, Artists, Arts organizations and the behind the scene art people. Thank you for making us all feel special. – Joy Hughes

Muriel Sherrin Award:

Christopher House (2009)

"I was genuinely surprised to be chosen for this award as I felt the other nominees were so strong. It was a lovely honour, and a nice acknowledgement that my career has reached beyond Canadian borders in several different ways. The luncheon is a very special event, with so many important Toronto artists and arts supporters in attendance, and it was a pleasure to be able to publicly thank my collaborators in this special forum.” – Christopher House

Peter Chin (2006)

Winning the Muriel Sherrin Award has made me very proud to be an artist in Toronto, celebrating what I believe is an underdog art form, contemporary dance. More importantly, I was honoured that as a Jamaican immigrant to Toronto in 1966, of a mixed tri-racial background, often being the only visible minority at school for years, I arrived at a day when my adopted hometown was recognizing me for my work and that my cultural/ethnic background was something that was being embraced as a part of the narrative of the deep richness of Toronto's diversity. Indeed, it is no coincidence that my artistic work intensely reflects this intercultural ethos. All of these values I believe are embedded naturally in the Toronto Arts Foundation award that I received. In effect, the award has fed into my confidence and pride, often representing Toronto in international forums, to present myself and my work as a true global, trans-cultural phenomenon, looking inward and outward in tandem, and cherishing what is common among all people, and at the same time, embracing difference. – Peter Chin