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2015 Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts Finalists

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2015 Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts Finalists

The Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts are open to artists and arts organizations practicing any professional arts discipline in Ontario. This includes visual arts, dance, music, theatre, literature and cultural industries, such as book and magazine publishing, digital media, film, television and sound recording, among others.

The Ontario Arts Council chooses a jury of peers to review and assess every nomination. Twelve finalists have been chosen, six in the artist category and six in the arts organization category. 

Artist Award                                                             

Jennifer Baichwal - Toronto

Jennifer Baichwal has been making award-winning documentaries for over 20 years.  Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles won an International Emmy in 1999.  Manufactured Landscapes, released in 12 countries, won multiple international awards.  Act of God opened the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in May 2009.  Payback premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.  Watermark, a special presentation at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, was released in 12 countries and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film.  She is currently working on Anthropocene, the third in a trilogy with Edward Burtynsky and Nick de Pencier, which will be completed in 2017.

Christi Belcourt - Espanola                                                          

Christi Belcourt is a Michif (Métis) visual artist and author whose ancestry originates from the historic community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. Like generations of Indigenous artists before her, she celebrates the beauty of the natural world while exploring nature's symbolic properties. Her work can be found within the public collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Indian and Inuit Art Collection, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Museum of History, and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. She was named the laureate of the 2014 Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award.

Jane Bunnett - Toronto

Jane Bunnett is an internationally acclaimed flutist, saxophonist, pianist and composer who has built her career at the crossroads between Cuban music and jazz. She is the recipient of multiple JUNO Awards, a Canadian Urban Music Award, the Order of Canada, an honorary doctorate from Queen's University and a Diamond Jubilee Medal from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She has also been nominated twice for GRAMMY Awards in the Best Latin Jazz Album category. In 2012 Jane marked her 30th anniversary of Canadian-Cuban collaborations. 

Barry Dempster - Holland Landing         

Barry Dempster, twice nominated for the Governor General's Awards, is the author of 15 collections of poetry, two volumes of short stories, two novels, and a children's book. He won the Canadian Authors Association Chalmers Poetry Award in 2005 for his book The Burning Alphabet. This is Barry's second nomination for the Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts. Most recently, he was nominated for the 2014 Trillium Book Award for his second novel, The Outside World. He is presently Acquisitions Editor for Brick Books.

Alex Pauk - Toronto

Conductor and composer Alex Pauk, a Member of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, revitalized orchestral life for composers in 1983 by founding Esprit Orchestra as Canada's only orchestra devoted to new music. Through Esprit Orchestra, he fosters high-calibre performances, innovative programming, commissions, recordings, videos, education programs, mentoring programs, outreach initiatives, national and international touring, and interdisciplinary arts ventures. As a composer he works with every kind of performing ensemble, as well as theatre and dance companies. Alex also has a dynamic film music component to his career, having composed over 30 movie scores. 

Mavis Staines - Toronto

Upon graduation from Canada's National Ballet School (NBS) in 1972, Staines danced with The National Ballet of Canada and The Dutch National Ballet until an accident cut short her performance career. She subsequently enrolled in NBS' Teacher Training Program, joining NBS' Artistic Faculty in 1982 and being appointed Artistic Director in 1989. Mavis works to evolve ballet education by building on the best of traditional schooling while ensuring dancers develop the self-awareness and creativity essential to leading dynamic, innovative careers and lives. She is the driving force behind NBS' commitment to bring dance to all members of the community.

Arts Organization Award

Art Gallery of Hamilton - Hamilton           

Founded in 1914, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) has grown and developed along with the communities it serves. It is the oldest and largest art museum in southwestern Ontario. Its permanent collection, one of the finest in Canada, numbers 10,000 works that are nationally recognized as significant achievements in the development of the visual arts. The AGH is a vital creative hub and centre of lifelong learning that enables people of all ages to enrich their lives by gaining a deeper understanding of art. An engine of revitalization, the AGH contributes significantly to the cultural and economic life of Hamilton, Ontario, and Canada. 

Éditions Prise de parole - Sudbury         

The oldest of the French-language publishing houses in Ontario, Éditions Prise de parole has been working in Sudbury for over 40 years. It is recognized in Canada for the quality of some 350 titles published by over 150 authors. By standing the test of time, patiently building a catalogue of strong, outstanding works that are the expression of its environment, the publishing house has made the Nickel Capital into a literary capital with an indelible literary face and mood. It continues to highlight the wealth of literary creations and scholarly works by creators and researchers of French Canada.

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival - Toronto

Hot Docs was founded in 1996 with a mandate to showcase and support the work of Canadian and international documentary filmmakers and to promote excellence in documentary production. Today, Hot Docs produces North America's largest documentary festival, conference and market, and operates the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, which is the only documentary-focused cinema in the world. Throughout the year, Hot Docs runs a number of programs in support of their mandate, including providing much-needed financial support to filmmakers facing financing gaps at critical stages in their projects through three separate production funds.

ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival - Toronto  

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world's largest annual showcase of film, video, audio and digital media works created by Indigenous artists. Each fall, the festival presents a selection of over 125 of the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the globe. Other activities throughout the year include a national tour, curated co-presentations and the indigiFLIX community screening series. The works accepted for the festival reflect the diversity of the world's Indigenous nations and illustrate the vitality and excellence of their art and culture in contemporary media.


SOULPEPPER is Toronto's largest not-for-profit theatre, celebrating the stories that move us and the artists who tell them. Founded by artists and led by Artistic Director Albert Schultz and Executive Director Leslie Lester, SOULPEPPER has an integrated mission which includes: industry-leading youth outreach initiatives; artist training through the Soulpepper Academy, North America's only two-year paid training program for theatre artists of all disciplines; new play development; a year-round diverse repertory season of over 600 events; regional, national and international tours; and working across digital and broadcast platforms.  After nearly two decades of award-winning work, it remains a place of belonging for artists, audiences and aspirants.

Young People's Theatre - Toronto                                 

Young People's Theatre (YPT) is the oldest professional theatre company in Toronto and is a national producer and presenter of theatre for young audiences. Over the past 50 years YPT has staged many important plays that form the canon of work for youth in our country. The enriched learning experience of YPT's Education & Participation Department provides young people with opportunities to develop their whole being. YPT strives for a positive and lasting impact on the emotional, social and intellectual development of young people - giving them the chance to grow into the unique and wonderful people they were born to be.

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