Five Awards Celebrate and Promote Toronto’s Vibrant Arts Sector

Distributed at Toronto Arts Foundation’s 2023 Awards Lunch

TORONTO, April 18, 2023 - Toronto’s political, arts and business leaders gathered yesterday to acknowledge the city’s vibrant arts sector and celebrate the achievements of artists, arts organizations and cultural leaders at Toronto Arts Foundation’s annual Toronto Arts Awards Lunch. Organizations that engage youth and community through the arts, as well as individuals leading organizations and those practising in music, visual arts and theatre, were honoured through five awards. Thanks to the support of generous sponsors, $74,000 in total was awarded to the recipients and finalists.

The awards ceremony was co-hosted by Britta B., award-winning artist, public speaker, and poet with Gilad Cohen, artist, public speaker, and founder of JAYU. Guests enjoyed performances by Canadian Caribbean music group Kobo Town. Among those in attendance, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie was joined by mayoral candidates, members of City Council, and provincial MPPs in recognizing Toronto as a global arts destination that contributes $11 billion annually to Toronto’s GDP.

Acknowledging the presence of many of her colleagues at the city, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie noted in her remarks that Torontonians want to be represented by people who appreciate the arts. “Not only do today’s nominees represent the strength of Toronto but their work contributes to all aspects of life in the city,” she said. 

“The arts express our will to live, to create, to make sense of our world, to build bridges, and imagine better possible futures,” said Kelly Langgard, who attended the Lunch for the first time in her new capacity as Director & CEOToronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation. In addition to congratulating the finalists, she noted that the Lunch is a celebration of “the entire arts and culture sector in Toronto, and the vital ability of the arts to connect people and ideas, and to inspire a sense of identity, belonging and community.”

The 2023 Toronto Arts Foundation Award recipients are:

ARTS FOR YOUTH AWARD - a $20,000 cash prize, supported by Martha Burns, Jim Fleck, and Sandra and Jim Pitblado. Thanks to Diana Bennett and Spencer Lanthier, finalists receive $2,000.

Nia Centre for the Arts
Nia Centre for the Arts is a Toronto-based charitable organization that promotes and showcases art from Canada’s Black diaspora. The Centre supports the holistic development of artists through public art showcases, educational workshops and professional development programs. A new 16,000 sq ft, purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility designed to nurture and support Toronto’s Black artistic community is currently being constructed, and is set to open in 2023. 

Finalists ONE MIC EDUCATORS and Théâtre français de Toronto were also celebrated. 

BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST AWARD - a $10,000 cash prize, with finalists receiving $2,000, sponsored by Susan Crocker and John Hunkin.

Oluseye Ogunlesi
Oluseye is a Nigerian Canadian artist. Using diasporic debris - a term he coined to describe the found objects he collects from his travels across the Atlantic - he explores Black being across themes. He has exhibited at The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2022); Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (2021); The Agnes Etherington Art Center, Queen’s University, Kingston (2021); and The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2015).   

Finalists Jorian Charlton and Rammah Mohammad were also celebrated. 

COMMUNITY ARTS AWARD - a $10,000 cash prize, with finalists receiving $1,000, sponsored by MOD Developments.

R.I.S.E. Edutainment
R.I.S.E. empowers youth and emerging creatives through its unique Edutainment approach, combining education and entertainment to create meaningful work rooted in self knowledge and self-expression. Its programs provide platforms for performance, learning and leadership development, using art as a cathartic practice for self-expression and community healing.

Finalists Community Arts Guild and Tamil Archive Project were also celebrated.  

MARGO BINDHARDT AND RITA DAVIES AWARD - a $10,000 cash prize, sponsored in part by John and Raphaela Dunlap. Thanks to Neera Chopra, finalists receive $1,000.

Naomi Johnson
Naomi Johnson, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Bear clan from Six Nations, has worked in the arts for 17 years as a curator/programmer and arts administrator. Since June 2020 she has served as Executive Director for imagineNATIVE, continuing to support Indigenous talent and arts workers within film and media arts.

Finalists D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor and Ann and David Powell were also celebrated. 

MURIEL SHERRIN AWARD - a $10,000 cash prize with finalists receiving $1,000, sponsored by The Muriel Sherrin Award Fund. In addition to the prize money, the 2023 recipient will receive a complimentary week-long stay at Valleyview Artist Retreat. 

Joy Lapps
Joy Lapps is an internationally lauded artist, composer and educator. Joy activates spaces for community building and creative expression, using the steelpan as her primary tool for engagement. Her most recent recording Girl In The Yard is an inspiring musical tribute to the women in her life. 

Finalists Measha Brueggergosman-Lee and Hilario Duran Torres were also celebrated. 

All recipients were presented with a commemorative Award Plate, designed by professional artist and curator Derek Liddington.

For more details about the recipients, finalists and Toronto Arts Foundation awards, visit our website.

Thank you to our 2023 Table Host Sponsors, who make the Toronto Arts Awards Lunch possible.

Azrieli Foundation, Bell Canada, Carpenters & Allied Workers Local 27, Centennial College, City of Toronto, Susan Crocker & John Hunkin, Diamond Corp., Humber College, Donald K. Johnson, O.C., LiUNA Local 183, LiUNA Ontario Provincial District Council, KingSett Capital, Nieuport Aviation, Ontario Creates, Power Corporation. Benefactors: Canadian Museum of History, John & Kay McKellar, Richard Paquet, Toronto Downtown West BIA. 

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About Toronto Arts Foundation
Toronto Arts Foundation is a charitable organization that sparks creative connections, spotlights artistic excellence, and supports vibrant cultural growth through private-sector investment. To learn more or to make a donation, visit

Contact information
For more information, contact Sarah Gladki, Senior Manager, Communications: