Arts Awards

Arts Awards Recipients

The City Hamilton is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 City of Hamilton Arts Awards, presented in a series of five online videos that aired from June 12-20 as part of 2020 Hamilton Arts Week. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the event shifted from a live award ceremony to a series of web-based performances, award presentations and recipient profiles.

Episode 1

Friday June 12, 7pm
Episode 1 features greetings from Mayor Fred Eisenberger, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Hamilton Youth Poets speaking on themes of resiliency.

Episode 2

Sunday June 14, 7pm
Episode 2 features awards in Theatre, Visual Art and Fine Craft.

Episode 3

Tuesday June 16, 7pm
Episode 3 features awards in Arts Management, Dance & Performing Arts, and Media Arts.

Episode 4

Thursday June 18, 7pm
Episode 4 features Writing, Music and the Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize in Arts Education & Community Arts. 

Episode 5

Watch Party Saturday June 20, 7pm
Episode 5 features the Arts Innovation award, messages from City of Hamilton leadership, and a special performance by emo dream pop artist ELLIS.

Laura Ellis - Host

Laura Ellis is an award winning actor, director, writer and arts educator in the theatre and film industry. Over the past ten years, she has worked with several companies including the Hamilton Film Festival, Nightwood Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Canadian Stage, Tarragon Theatre, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, and Theatre Aquarius. Laura is the Co-Artistic Director of Women’s Work  and Co-Founder of The Hamilton LOFT - Ladies of Film and Television (two local professional artistic collectives driven to create female-centric work). In 2015, she was the recipient of the Emerging Artist Award in Theatre Performance from The City of Hamilton Arts Awards. Currently, Laura hosts the show "Backstage Pass" on Cable14, which highlights the careers of local artists. In her not-so-spare time, she can be found kicking butt in martial arts classes, performing as part of the female comedy sketch troupe The Awkward Rebels, and napping with her cats.

Hamilton Youth Poets

Fri June 12 Hamilton Youth Poets (HYP) is a community grounded in the belief that all people have important stories to tell. We are people from different backgrounds who have come together to understand the importance of our own stories and those of others, so all can pursue a chosen path and work to make the places we call home more just and equitable. Our relationships began at HYP based on a shared love of creative expression through the written and spoken word.


Sat June 20 Ellis is the music project of Linnea Siggelkow. In 2018 she released her debut EP The Fuzz which quickly drew international acclaim and caught the attention of Fat Possum Records.  2020 saw her release her debut record Born Again.  Born Again unfolds with a mesmerizing subtlety, gracefully spotlighting Ellis’s unhurried melodies, starkly confessional lyrics, and the luminous vocal work she’s shown in opening for artists like Soccer Mommy and Alvvays.

The 2020 Recipients of the Arts Awards

Awards winners in the categories of...

Life time achievement award


Susan Evans Shaw

Susan’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.


Arts Innovation Award


Radha S. Menon

Radha is an 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.


Arts Management Award


Abedar Kamgari

Abedar 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. as her Emerging Artist.

Emerging Artist
Mashal Khan
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 womxn of colour.


Dance Performing Arts


Josh Taylor

Josh 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.

Emerging Artist
Janessa Pudwell
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 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.

Emerging Artist
Angela Busse
Angela is a multimedia artist working in both ceramic and printmaking


Media Arts award


Cher Obediah

Cher 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.

Emerging Artist
Andréa Williams
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


Abigail Richardson-Schulte

Abigail 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.

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


Theatre Award


Kelly Wolf

Kelly 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. 

Emerging Artist
Carlyn Rhamey
Carlyn is a storyteller, theatre creator and co-founder of Squirrel Suit Productions


Visual art award


Matt McInnes

Matt 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.

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


Writing award


Anne Bokma

Anne 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.

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


Shirley Elford Arts Education Award


Presented by the Shirley Elford Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation

Jasmin Glaw

Jasmin 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.


Nine independent juries comprised of discipline-specific artists, arts professionals and community leaders evaluated nominations. A member of the Arts Advisory Commission or Arts Awards Steering Committee audited each jury session to ensure a fair and transparent process (non-voting position).

Thank you to all who participated in the adjudication process.

Lifetime Achievement & Arts Innovation Awards Jury

  • Pamela Edmonds
  • Victoria Long
  • Florencia Bernstein
  • Kristian Clark

Arts Management & Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize Awards Jury

  • Daniel Hill
  • Sahra Soudi
  • Melissa Bennett
  • Jeremy Forsyth

Visual Arts Award Jury

  • Donna Akrey
  • JoJo Harley
  • Paul Chartrand
  • Christina Sealey

Theatre Award Jury

  • Claire Calnan
  • Kayla James
  • Colette Kendall
  • Jamie Milay

Dance and Performing Arts Award Jury

  • David Hudson
  • Haliegh Eady
  • Eshe
  • Janet Johnson

Media Arts Award Jury

  • Ariel Bader-Shamai
  • Taien Ng-Chan
  • Derek Jenkins
  • Sarah Gonyea

Writing Award Jury

  • Norah Wakula
  • Graham Rockingham
  • Biljana Njegovan
  • Hannah Mary McKinnon

Fine Craft Award Jury

  • Alison Brannen 
  • Donna Hiebert
  • Aaron Duarte

Music Award Jury

  • Lil Acevedo
  • Amy King
  • Rob Lack
  • Liam Tyndall

Arts Community Leadership Awards:

  • A nomination package is submitted for each Lifetime Achievement Award and Arts Innovation Award nominee. 
  • A jury for each award, comprised of artists and arts professionals, reviews the nomination packages and determines who will receive the award based on each nominee’s work, career, exemplary accomplishments in their field and/or significant contribution to the advancement of the arts in Hamilton.

Arts Community Leadership Awards:

  • A nomination package is submitted for each Lifetime Achievement Award and Arts Innovation Award nominee. 
  • A jury for each award, comprised of artists and arts professionals, reviews the nomination packages and determines who will receive the award based on each nominee’s work, career, exemplary accomplishments in their field and/or significant contribution to the advancement of the arts in Hamilton.

Established Artist Award:

  • A nomination package is submitted for each Established Artist nominee
  • A jury of category-specific arts professionals reviews the Established Artist nomination packages and determines who will receive the award based on each nominee’s work, career, and reception by the arts community at large.


  • Each Established Artist nominates an Emerging Artist worthy of recognition in their award category.
  • If the Established Artist is awarded, their Emerging Artist is awarded too! By winning together, professional artistic relationships can grow and thrive in the community between artists at different points in their careers.

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Jen Anisef
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Email: [email protected]
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