Arts Awards

Arts Awards Nominees

2020 Arts AwardsIn light of the COVID-19 crisis, adjustments to the Arts Awards have been necessary to ensure the well-being of all program participants and public safety. We will continue to celebrate 2020 nominees and award $35,000 in cash prizes to recipients.  The event will shift from a live award ceremony to a series of web-based performances and award presentations. These videos will be posted during Hamilton Arts Week June 11 to 20.  Details to follow.

View the 2019 City of Hamilton Arts Awards recipients.

2020 Nominees

Congratulations to the 2020 Arts Awards nominees! 61 established and emerging Hamilton artists have been nominated in 10 categories and the Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Jude Johnson

Jude Johnson is a singer, songwriter, and recording artist for children and adults. Jude is the founder and Director of the MAD Creative Art School where over 9,000 children explored music, art and drama. Jude has been the recipient of the Hamilton Arts Award in Music and Arts Education, Woman of the Year and has been inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction.

Susan Evans Shaw

Susan Evans Shaw’s passion for history, be it family, local or Canadian has generated newspaper articles, contributions to anthologies, and three published books: one on early Hamilton architecture and two guides to Canadian battlefields in Europe. Her fondness for literature is inborn. Membership in literary committees is by choice. She lives in a Hamilton high-rise with her two cats, Lotte and Mitzi.

Ilona Spleit

Ilona Spleit, a Hamilton born and raised violinist that has taught violin, viola, cello and bass in Hamilton, to thousands of students, spanning a career of over 40 years. Former students of hers are now playing throughout the world and include teachers and performers in Hamilton and its Philharmonic orchestra.

Arts Innovation Award

Radha S. Menon

Artist-in-Residence at McMaster University’s School Of The Arts and recipient of the City of Hamilton’s Theatre Award, Menon is an interdisciplinary artist.  Her plays and short films have been presented at arts festivals in Canada, the United Kingdom & the United States. Menon is an activist, arts educator, founder of Red Betty Theatre and holds an MFA in Creative Writing.

Lisa Pijuan-Nomura

Lisa Pijuan-Nomura is a storyteller, multidisciplinary artist and creativity coach living and working in Hamilton. Inspired by creativity and community, Lisa's work is vast. She finds herself a member of a professional story collective, working with youth artists, and teaching local residents how to craft their own stories.

Kaime Sherman

Kaime Sherman is an artist, author, and founder of the Academy of Imagination & Dramatic Arts or “AiDa”. AiDa’s mission-driven arts education for all ages, inspires creativity, collaboration, confidence, and the art of speaking and communication. It profoundly impacts excellence in the arts, encourages creative expression, self-discovery, mentorship, leadership development, social change, and cultivating personal and professional success.

Stylo Starr

Stylo Starr is a visual alchemist, known for her multi-layered collages exploring the Black Body and its relationship to the principles and elements of design, while reaffirming its agency as fine art history. Stylo has shown at the Art Gallery of Hamilton alongside the works of Andy Warhol in 2017 and will be featured next at the Art Gallery of Burlington later in 2020.

Arts Management Award

Julie Dring

Julie Dring is an arts manager with a background in artifact preservation and museum studies. She has worked in several galleries, museums and archives including the Photography Department at the Art Institute of Chicago. She holds a MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University. 

Jasmine is an arts administrator with a desire in developing accessible outreach programming in diverse communities.

Andrea Jackman

Andrea Jackman has been the Curator at Earls Court Gallery since 2009, following the completion of her Masters in Art History and BA in Studio Arts. Jackman has created exhibits that explore Inuit, textile, glass, contemporary, and historically significant Canadian Artists, with a specialized focus in historical Hamilton artists.

Aurora is a curator and arts management professional with a background in new media and museum studies.

Abedar Kamgari

Abedar Kamgari is a visual artist, independent curator, and arts administrator. She is an active member of COBRA and advocates for opportunities for artists from equity-seeking groups. Abedar is currently the Programming Director at Hamilton Artists Inc. where she leads the organization’s programming vision through its exhibitions, public programs and community events.

Mashal is a multi media artist that hopes to subvert and resist oppressive gazes by focusing on preserving and documenting stillness, joy and whimsical moments felt by her and other women of colour.

Christopher McLeod

Christopher McLeod is a social sculpture artist, artistic director, and educator. He has a BA in Studio Art from McMaster University and an MFA from Emily Carr University. He is the Artistic Director for the Great Art for Great Lakes project, and just completed his role as Director for the Hamilton Art Council’s Building Cultural Legacies project.

Alex is a curator, writer, and researcher who aims to create thoughtful and accessible learning opportunities through the arts.

Diana Weir

Diana Weir is an accomplished professional communicator and arts administrator. As former Executive Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, HPO enjoyed five straight years of budget surpluses and invested in an unprecedented volume of community outreach activities. Diana was recently recipient of the YWCA Hamilton Women of Distinction Award and Canada Council’s John Hobday Award for Arts Management.

Megan is arts administration and communications professional in Hamilton and currently part of the marketing team at the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

Dance and Performing Arts Award

Trevor Copp

Trevor Copp is a Performance creator who draws on Theatre, Mime, and Partner Dance to devise and perform his work. His work ranges from contemporary original to highly physical interpretations of Shakespeare.

Claud is a multi-disciplinary performance artist, with a focus on creating abstract and visceral experiences within an anti-oppressive framework.

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor is a dancer, choreographer and artist-educator based in Hamilton, where he is the Owner and Artistic Director of Defining Movement Dance. Specializing in Hip-Hop and Street Dance, Josh uses strong narratives and themes in his choreography and performances, exploring Hip-Hop culture, pop culture and socio-political issues.

Janessa is a dance artist, choreographer and instructor who is dedicated to mastering her craft to share with the community and next generation.

Fine Craft Award

Andrew Kellner

Andrew Kellner received a diploma from Sheridan College in 2003, a BFA in 2005 from the Alberta College of Art and Design, and a MFA in 2017 from West Virginia University. In addition to keeping a home studio, Andrew continues to contribute to the ceramics community by teaching local ceramic classes

Angela is a multimedia artist working in both ceramic and printmaking.

Media Arts Award

Adam Carter

Adam Carter films live concerts, makes music videos, designs concert posters, crafts album artwork, creates logos, and promotes live music in Hamilton. As an active musician in Hamilton's music scene for over twenty years, Adam is uniquely suited to understand the creative needs of gigging musicians and recording artists.

Danielle is a graphic designer and photographer who is focussing on helping local musicians grow their brands and develop their visual assets.

Chris Myhr

Chris Myhr is a Hamilton-based media artist whose practice engages with photography, sound, and the moving image. Myhr’s work seeks intersections between art, science, and ecology - examining our complex interconnections with Earth’s hydrosphere, and the tension between water as a generative influence, as well as a source of destructive power.

Kristina is a media artist who uses interdisciplinary sculpture and video installation to navigate the complex maternal abject relationships between humans and animals.

Cher Obediah

Cher Obediah is Seneca / Ojibway from Six Nations. She’s a filmmaker, workshop facilitator, a writer, speaker and certified fitness instructor. Born in Brantford, Ontario Cher started in theatre at age ten. She followed that passion through television and film. She is dedicated to inspiring social change and motivating others to recognize their worth. 

Andréa, spirit name Maiingankwe from the Turtle Clan, is a proud Black Indigenous woman and community educator using her emerging videography and photography skills to capture Indigenous ways of knowing and being through a digital lens, so that this generation can move forward carrying both traditional and new ways with them.

Music Award


Pip is a noted artist in the community, creating unique art-pop with world and jazz overtones.  He lived abroad for years in Thailand, Laos, Korea and several European countries.  Now a proud East-Ender, Pip plays festivals, events, venues, and house gigs.  On Oct 14th, Pip will be celebrating 40 years in the music business with a grand concert.

Aisha is a singer, songwriter, and performer, with works primarily in the genres of R&B and Pop.

Abigail Richardson-Schulte

Abigail Richardson-Schulte is an international award-winning composer. She has been Composer-in-Residence for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra since 2012 and frequently hosts presentations and education workshops across the region. Her most famous work, The Hockey Sweater, has been performed over 150 times by orchestras across Canada and France.

Liam is a composer who works in the field of chamber and orchestral concert music.

Theatre Award

Michael Hannigan

Michael Hannigan is a local actor/director with extensive credits on several of the professional and community stages in the Hamilton/Wentworth area.

Claud is a multi-disciplinary performance artist, with a focus on creating abstract and visceral experiences within an anti-oppressive framework.

Ronald Weihs

Ronald Weihs is a playwright, director and artistic director of Artword Theatre. In Toronto, with Judith Sandiford, he converted a factory into a major theatre facility. Moving to Hamilton, they operated Artword Artbar from 2009 to 2019, originating over twenty theatre productions, including James Street, Scroogissimo and MacBush: The Musical.

Will is a theatre artist, playwright, composer, actor and director for Chasing Shadows Productions.

Kelly Wolf

Kelly Wolf is a Theatre Maker, a Set and Costume designer and an Artist Educator. A determined dreamer and explorer, she has created designs for theatres across Canada. Productions with her company Open Heart explore site-specific theatre creation, foregrounding the site in the story telling while investigating current social issues.

Carlyn is a storyteller, theatre creator and co-founder of Squirrel Suit Productions.

Visual Arts Award

Ted Basciano

Ted Basciano has created sculptures, prints and drawings. His mosaics are unique in the way he sets his found materials into acrylic paint. Inspired by doodles, there are whimsical figures, human-like animals and symbols from nature in his works. Having spent 14 years in South Korea has influenced Ted.

Kimberly uses paint and paper mache sculpture to explore the northern landscapes of her origin, portraiture and whimsy.

Kristofir Dean

Kristofir Dean is an abstract painter based in Hamilton, Ontario. He holds a BFA from OCADU and has exhibited his work across Canada, Hong Kong, United States, and Australia. He is currently represented by Ian Tan Gallery in Vancouver, Newzones in Calgary, and Art Interiors in Toronto.

Dope Chief is a contemporary visual artist whose work is often layered symbolically and colorful.

Elizabeth Sue Hanna

Elizabeth Sue Hanna embarked on her journey after retirement, she was so inspired by Gore Park and the downtown environment that she wanted to preserve the historical architectural styles that graced Hamilton, past and present. Her work includes years of experimenting with organics and binders and thinking outside the canvas.

Pat is a visual artist painting with acrylics and drawing with various media who loves capturing God’s magnificent creations on canvas and paper.

Matt McInnes

Matt McInnes is an established printmaker based in Dundas, Ontario. His artistic process is informed by over 14 years as an arts educator. He uses the didactic and collaborative nature of these experiences in combination with affective drawings and the versatility of printmaking to document forgotten or overlooked regional histories.

Michael is a printmaker/artist with a focus on screen printing.

Leslie Sasaki

Leslie Sasaki is a visual artist and arts educator with over 30 years of experience. He presents familiar, often overlooked subjects in new combinations and unusual materials so that we may see them afresh. Most recently he has focused on portraiture executed in Scotch Brand Magic Tape. 

Jamie is an artist and maker exploring the locality of relationship among people and the natural world using a variety of mediums.

David Shepherd

David Shepherd is a Realist/Hyper Realist Artist, trained at the Academy of Realist Art Toronto. Each of his oil paintings is a spectacular, jaw dropping show of technical performance with seductive bold movement, and thought-provoking themes creating an interesting aesthetic while at the same time propelling narrative behind it.

Audrey is a printmaker who primarily uses etching to create miniature imaginary environments.

Writing Award

Anne Bokma

Anne Bokma is an award-winning journalist and author of My Year of Living Spiritually: One Woman's Secular Quest for a More Soulful Life, published by Douglas & McIntyre. She is the founder of the 6-Minute Memoir project, which brings together Hamilton storytellers to share tales on a theme.

Jaclyn writes books for adults and kids and teaches cozy writing workshops in the GTA and online.

Steacy Easton

Steacy Easton is a writer and artist, living in Hamilton. They've written about the city for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, CNQ, OffSite, and for CMFU. They have had larger cultural writing published in the Atlantic, Pitchfork, Spin, the National Post, CBC, Slate, and many others.

Samantha is a non-fiction writer of short stories and reflections about the struggle and joy of being human.

Lyla Miklos

Lyla Miklos’ current roles include Broadcast Journalist, Chief Negotiator, Community Organizer, Education Worker, Lay Chaplain, Publicist and Vocalist. Her queer, feminist, sex positive, labour activism informs her work. Lyla uses her powerful voice, straight forward language, creative talents and organizational prowess to connect communities, educate citizens, celebrate artists and liberate humanity.

Amanda is a theatre reviewer focusing on how local productions impact the Hamilton theatre-going community.

2020 Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize in Arts Education and Community Arts

Pamela Gardner

Pamela Gardner reaches for the sky, literally, building strength of steel with ever-expanding evolution: growing from acrobat to actor, singer to songwriter, choreographer to coach. The founder of Steel the Sky Aerial Arts (2017), hands out juggling scarves and high fives, celebrating opportunities and victories, big and small.

Josh Kellett

Josh Kellett is an artist from Hamilton, Ontario experimenting with aerosol, acrylic and digital arts. His body of work offers warm, soothing colour combinations and funky patterns squeezed through a pop-psychedelic filter. Working closely with counterparts in Clear Eyes Collective, Josh aims to beautify the cityscape through painting colourful murals.

Darian Poisson

Darian Poisson is an Artist and Illustrator based out of Hamilton, ON. Exploring different concepts through painting, digital illustration, and murals, she draws inspiration from nature, the unknown, music, and human connection. Darian aims to work with fellow artists to open communities to the idea that art brings people together.

Jasmin Glaw

Jasmin Glaw is a self-taught Indigenous Artist and advocate of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and German descent. As a visual artist and maker, Jasmin’s work in wearable designs uses beadwork and natural materials. Major themes of her work are traditional knowledge, as well as identity and belonging.