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Welcome to the 2019 Arts Awards Submission Process!

Nominations are due by Friday, February 15, 2019 at 4 pm

The City of Hamilton Arts Awards recognizes the outstanding achievements of established and emerging artists in eleven categories and presents $36,500 in cash awards and civic recognition.

Established Artists and Arts Community Leadership Award recipients selected by a jury, will each receive:

  • $2,500
  • Arts Awards bronze commemorative medal designed by artist Dora de Pédery-Hunt
  • Civic and media recognition

Emerging Artist Award recipients, selected by the Established Artist winner in each category, will receive:

  • $1,000
  • Certificate of Recognition
  • Civic and media recognition

The Hamilton Community Foundation is presenting the Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize. The Prize recipient (this year in the category of Dance and Performing arts as well as Music), selected by a jury, will receive:

  • $2,000
  • Civic and media recognition

Eligibility criteria & guidelines

Please read the following guidelines to ensure that your nomination package meets all eligibility requirements.

  • Individual artist who is 18 years of age or older (artist collectives, bands, duos, etc. are not eligible)
  • Nominee must be actively producing work (with exemption of Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • Current resident of Hamilton (including Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook, Stoney Creek, Waterdown) who has lived in Hamilton consecutively for the past two years or longer
  • Must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident (Landed Immigrant) or have an application pending for Permanent Residency
  • Nominee may be self-taught or have art training through formal education, apprenticeship, or with a mentor or elder
  • Full-time students are not eligible (high school or post-secondary)
  • Past City of Hamilton Arts Awards recipients cannot be nominated again in the same category
  • Artists who have previously received an Emerging Artist award may be nominated in the Established category
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Can be an individual, organization or business residing in any city or region
  • Cannot be an immediate family member of the nominee
  • Cannot be recognized as an Emerging Artist by the Established Artist that they are nominating
  • Artists cannot self-nominate
  • Cannot be a member of the Arts Advisory Commission, Arts Awards Steering Committee, City of Hamilton staff, elected officials of the City of Hamilton or representatives of their offices

Nomination process

Artists and arts professionals can be nominated for two different types of awards.
Each award has a different nomination process:

Artists can be nominated in any of the following categories. If you are nominating the same artist in more than one category, you must submit a complete nomination package for each category.

Arts Management - Demonstrating leadership in an arts organization and/or project. This can include general managers, managing directors, artistic directors, arts programmers, executive directors, curators, marketing and communications professionals, fundraising and development staff, and facility managers.

Arts Education and Community Arts - Professional artists leading activities in schools, arts organizations and creative industries. Activities can involve learning experiences or community building activities for participants of any age.

Dance and Performing Arts - Dance and choreography (all genres), storytelling, spoken word, circus arts, mime, magician, stand-up comedy, etc.

Fine Craft - Functional and non-functional craft-based work, including: beadwork, book arts, ceramics, textile, fashion and wearable art, furniture, glass, jewellery, metal, and wood.

Media Arts - Film, video, photography, audio/sound art, graphic design, animation, digital art, web-based art, media art installation, new media, or any fusion thereof. The nominee must be the driving creative force of the project and must maintain complete creative and editorial control over the work.

Music - Performance, composition, songwriting, technical production (all genres of music).

Theatre- Acting, directing, playwriting, or technical production (i.e. lighting, sound, costume design, etc.).

Visual Arts - Painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, performance art, installation art, public art, street art / murals, etc.

Writing - Poetry, short story, written journalism, fiction, non-fiction, and publishing.

An established artist is an individual who has been practicing professionally for five years or more. This typically includes:

  • A history of public presentation or publication
  • Recognition by his/her peers 
  • Involvement in the arts community

*Full-time students cannot be nominated

Emerging Artist Recognition

Established Artist nominees are required to identify an Emerging Artist whom they feel is an emerging talent in the community. If the Established Artist’s nomination is successful, his/her choice for the Emerging Artist will also be awarded. The goal of this process is to encourage the development of meaningful relationships between emerging and established artists in our community. Established Artist nominations that do not include an Emerging Artist nominee will be disqualified.

Qualifications for an emerging artist:

  • Must be a practicing artist in the same category as the Established Artist nominee
  • Has been practicing professionally for less than five years. This typically includes: a history of public presentation or publication, recognition by his/her peers and involvement in the arts community.
  • Cannot be a full-time student (high-school or post-secondary)
  • Cannot be an immediate family member of the Established Artist nominee or nominator

Emerging Artists cannot be nominated. They are recognized by Established Artist nominees.

These awards are presented to artists and arts professionals who have either displayed exemplary accomplishments in their field or have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the arts in Hamilton. Individuals can be nominated in the following two categories:

Arts Innovation Award - Recognizing an arts leader who currently demonstrates exemplary vision, innovation, creativity, and excellence in their field. This person has expanded the impact and fostered the growth of Hamilton’s arts sector. Professional artists and arts managers can be nominated for this award.

Lifetime Achievement Award- Recognizing the long-standing and significant achievements of artists and arts managers over the course of an entire career. Past award winners (in other categories) may be nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award. Lifetime achievement may be awarded posthumously.

The Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize, presented by the Hamilton Community Foundation, is to be awarded in memory of the late Shirley Elford, a Hamilton artist celebrated for her excellence in glass work and her work giving back to the local arts community and community at large.

The prize recognizes artistic excellence, and is intended to help support emerging artists in furthering their work and to provide opportunities for artists to promote and showcase their work.  The Prize is presented annually, in conjunction with the City of Hamilton Arts Awards and will award between 1 - 2 prizes of $2,000 (per category).  The prize categories change annually. 

In 2019, the Shirley Elford Prize will be presented in the Dance and Performing Arts, and Music categories.

All Established Artist nominations will be evaluated by an independent jury comprised of discipline-specific artists and arts professionals. A member of the Arts Advisory Commission or Arts Awards Steering Committee will audit each jury session to ensure a fair and transparent process (this is a non-voting position). All nominations are evaluated using the same scoring criteria and must achieve a minimum benchmark score to be considered for an Award. Adjudication for all awards will take place in early Spring.

For tips on how to write effectively about your creative practice in your Artist Statement and step-by-step instructions for creating an artist curriculum vitae (CV) or resume, visit Hamilton Arts Council’s Artist Resources.

How to submit a nomination package

Nomination are due on or before Friday February 15, 2019 by 4 pm. Incomplete nominations and/or nominations received after the deadline will not be accepted. Emailed, faxed, and post-dated submissions will not be accepted. Nomination materials will not be returned. Submissions including original artwork will not be accepted.

Please click on the following links to complete your nomination packages online:

Or download the complete 2019 City of Hamilton Arts Award Nomination Package. (PDF, 416 KB)

Applications can be delivered by mail to:
City of Hamilton
c/o Tourism and Culture Division
ATTN: Arts Awards
P.O. Box 2040,
Hamilton, ON, L8P 4Y5

Applications can be delivered in person to:
Tourism Hamilton Visitor Information Centre,
Lister Building, 28 James St N, Ground Floor.
Hours: Monday to Friday between 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Contact us

If you have questions contact:
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 7612
Email: artsawards@hamilton.ca