Toronto Arts Foundation Awards celebrate city building through the arts

Nominations open for 2022 awards

A photo of Syrus Marcus Ware standing beside a window, smiling, wearing a dark jacket, bowtie and patterned shirt. They hold a black plate in both hands, with a gold and white design
Syrus Marcus Ware, 2017 Community Arts Award recipient and 2018 Mayor’s Arts Lunch Plate Award Artist

It’s that time of year again to show your love for our city’s artists by nominating one or more for a Toronto Arts Foundation Award. Made possible with support from many generous donors, the awards will be presented at the Mayor's Art Lunch in 2022.

Nominating is easy!

We welcome nominations from everyone – art supporters and patrons, fellow artists, arts managers and arts board members. Details about eligibility criteria and the nomination process can be found here.

The deadline to nominate for the 2022 Awards is December 3, 2021.  

Nominations are open for the following Awards:

Arts for Youth Award

The Arts for Youth Award is a $20,000 cash prize, with finalists receiving $2,000. The award celebrates an individual, collective or organization that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to engaging Toronto’s youth through the arts. Established in 2007, the award is supported by Martha Burns, Jim Fleck, and Sandra and Jim Pitblado. The finalist prizes are supported by Diana Bennett and Spencer Lanthier.

Celebration of Cultural Life Award

Established in 2017, the Celebration of Cultural Life Award recognizes excellence in Toronto’s senior arts practitioners. The award embraces the spirit of Toronto Arts Council’s founding President William Kilbourn, and recognizes an individual performer, teacher, administrator and/or creator in any arts discipline, including architecture and design, whose work is a celebration of life through the arts. The recipient will receive a $10,000 cash prize, supported by Maureen and Victor Dodig, and two finalists will each receive $2,000.   In addition to the prize money, the 2022 recipient will receive a complimentary week long stay at Valleyview Artist Retreat.

Breakthrough Artist Award (formerly Emerging Artist Award)

The Breakthrough Artist Award is a $10,000 cash prize, with finalists receiving $2,000. The award celebrates the accomplishments and future potential of an emerging Toronto artist working in any discipline. Established in 2006, the award is sponsored by Susan Crocker and John Hunkin and is intended to support the development or completion of new work. The finalist awards were established in 2014. In 2021 the Emerging Artists Award was renamed Breakthrough Artist Award and the age restriction for recipients was removed.

Emerging Jazz Artist Award

The Emerging Jazz Artist Award is a $10,000 cash prize with finalists receiving $1,000. The award furthers the career of an outstanding emerging jazz artist and is intended to support the pre-production, production, and/or recording of original music composed by the recipient. The award is meant to further the career of a young jazz artist at the beginning stages of their professional career. Established in 2014, the award is supported by Cheryl and Manuel Buchwald. 

Basic Eligibility Requirements


  • must be a professional artist 35 years of age, or younger
  • must have completed training (not necessarily at a formal educational institution) in their discipline
  • must have contributed significantly to arts and culture in Toronto and have demonstrated an ongoing association with Toronto
  • may only receive this award once
  • may self-nominate  
  • 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
  • Undergraduate & College students are not eligible to apply

Organizations and Collectives:

  • Must be headquartered in Toronto and have a significant portion of its activity taking place in the city.
  • Must have contributed significantly to the arts and culture of Toronto.

In addition to the basic eligibility requirements listed above, those being considered for the Breakthrough Artist Award:

  • Must be an artist in the early stages of their professional career who has produced a small body of work and achieved some local recognition and/or has limited public exhibition experience.
  • Should have between 2 and 7 years of independent arts practice in their nominated discipline.
  • Must have completed training (not necessarily at a formal educational institution) in their discipline.
  • Undergraduate and college students are NOT eligible to apply.

In addition to the basic eligibility requirements listed above, those being considered for the Emerging Jazz Artist Award:

  • Must be a professional artist 35 years of age, or younger.
  • May only receive this award once.
  • May self-nominate.
  • Undergraduate & College students are NOT eligible to apply.

Want to learn more about our Awards?

Attend our online information sessions presented by Award Managers, Liza Mattimore and Christy DiFelice.
October 6, 2021, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

November 9, 2021, 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Toronto Arts Foundation Awards are designed to heighten public awareness of arts and artists in Toronto. They are presented in recognition of a body of creative accomplishment, rather than for specific works or achievements.

All nominations will be submitted online through Toronto Arts Foundation's Nomination Portal. Nominations must include a biography, nomination rationale and where appropriate, supporting material. Self-nominations will NOT be considered for the awards, except for the Emerging Jazz Artist Award.

The deadline to nominate an organization, collective or individual for the awards listed above is December 3, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.


Here is what our past Award Recipients have to say:

Thank you so much. This award is a symbol of my community. I feel so privileged to have the relationships with so many people in my community. I remember when I was being nominated, and my community said, ‘you don’t need this award, you ARE an award.’ This award humbles me.

Britta B. - recipient Emerging Artist Award, 2021 (now Breakthrough Artist Award)  Photo: Gilad Cohen

Britta B. standing, arms folded looking left at camera. She has a green silhouette around her against a black background, with her name repeatedly printed on it.
A woman, seated and a man standing, both smile at the camera. They are surrounded in a pink aura against a black background with the words PAPRIKA FESTIVAL on it. repeating

"Thank you so very much for this honour. It’s so important that this award exists. We need places where young people can collaborate, learn and step up to be our future leaders. We’re so excited for the future of art-making. We are deeply grateful for this game-changing support."

Paprika Festival - recipient Arts for Youth Award, 2021  Photo: Henry Chan


Catch all the other 2021 Award Recipients at the 2021 Mayor's Art Lunch (at Home) video below

Toronto Arts Foundation and our supporters share a clear vision for Toronto – a vibrant and creative city where every neighbourhood is enriched by the transformative benefits of the arts. We hope our initiatives, research and awards inspire you to join us and make your own contribution towards our common vision.
Your friends at Toronto Arts Foundation


About Toronto Arts Foundation

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

Contact information:

  • For questions about eligibility for awards, please contact Liza Mattimore, Awards Manager at or (416) 392-6802 x 231.
  • For questions about eligibility for Emerging Jazz Artist Award, please contact Christy DiFelice, Awards Manager at or (416) 392-6802 x 202.
  • For more information about Toronto Arts Foundation, please contact Haroon Khalid, Interim Communications Manager at or (416) 392-6802 x 217.
  • Interested funding an award? We are always looking to partner with dedicated arts enthusiasts to support and celebrate Toronto's artists. Please contact Leslie Francombe, Philanthropy and Sponsorships Manager at or (416) 392-6802 x 214.