Arts Awards

Arts Awards Short List

2020 Arts AwardsCongratulations to the shortlisted 2021Arts Awards nominees! These remarkable local artists, arts collectives, arts community leaders and volunteers have been named to the 2021 City of Hamilton Arts Awards Short List in three categories:

Creator Award (28 shortlisted)
Conferred to individual artists and artistic collectives (including bands) working in any artistic discipline and at any career level.

Arts Champion Award (7 shortlisted)
Honours the work of arts sector volunteers, advocates, or board members who are essential in supporting success in the arts community.

Lifetime Achievement Award (2 shortlisted)
Recognizes those who have contributed substantially to the artistic vitality of the city over the course of a career

A panel of 45 local artists and arts professionals evaluated 122 public nominations for the 2021 Arts Awards, shortlisting 37 nominees to move forward for final adjudication for an award. Meet them below!

Award recipients in all categories will be announced via an online presentation during Hamilton Arts Week (June 3 to 12, 2021). Details to follow.

View the 2020 City of Hamilton Arts Awards recipients.

2021 Arts Awards Short List

Lifetime Achievement Award

Judith Sandiford & Ronald Weihs

Judith Sandiford, an artist and designer, and Ronald Weihs, a playwright and director, have been creating original theatre and promoting the arts for thirty years. Their projects include Artword Artists Forum, Artword Theatre, Artword Gallery and Artword Artbar, a welcoming environment for theatre, music, dance and visual art in Hamilton.

Artword Theatre Group

Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson is the best-selling author of Beautiful Scars as well as a five-time Juno winning Canadian musician with multiple gold records. Wilson has written and recorded songs with many internationally recognized artists and has toured extensively with his bands Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and most recently, Lee Harvey Osmond. His art has shown in galleries in New York City, Vancouver and Toronto.

Tom Wilson

Instagram iconleeharveyosmond

Arts Champion

Bethany Osborne

Bethany Osborne is a dedicated volunteer with the Pipeline Trail Organizing Committee. This work includes a variety of projects including the Pipeline Trail Parade, pollinator garden, mural, and youth-focused projects. Bethany is also a Board Member of the Hamilton Dialogues and facilitator for the Indigenous Pottery Project, a youth project in partnership with Little Bethel and Indwell.

Bradlee Henry

Bradlee Henry has been a driving force in helping Hamilton’s Indigenous youth reconnect with their community through his vibrant traditional drumming and singing. He has performed at events across the city, including Living Rock’s Arts of August Youth Arts Festival, the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts’ Together in Dance Festival, Hamilton Regional Indian Centre’s Virtual Youth & Elders Gathering and more.

Brenda Ferguson

Brenda Ferguson is the COO of Today's Family, an organization committed to early learning and childcare. Since 2008 Brenda has passionately supported a partnership with Culture for Kids in the Arts (CKA) to provide access to arts to at least 5,500 children in over 12 neighbourhoods across the city. Additionally, Brenda served as a Board member for CKA and Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice.

Erica Commisso

Erica Commisso has been a dedicated volunteer with McMaster radio 93.3 CFMU since 2018. This dedication led to her current role as Music Director and radio show host, where she uses her platform to promote both local and out-of-town musicians. Erica has also been an active member of VIE Division, a semi-professional hip hop dance team based out of McMaster University, both as a dancer and volunteer.

Judy Marsales

Judy Marsales has been a consistent supporter of the arts and culture sector, both as a business owner and active volunteer. In addition to supporting numerous organizations and fundraisers, Judy has served as a board member for the Brott Music Festival, Hamilton All Star Jazz Band, Hamilton Music Collective (An Instrument for Every Child) and the Hamilton Music Advisory Team.

Nancy McKibbin Gray

Nancy McKibbin Gray is a founding member and volunteer of the Carnegie Gallery, including over ten years as Board Chair during which the Board oversaw the building purchase, renovation and expansion of the gallery. Nancy has served on many committees including the Arts Advisory Commission, Telling Tales, gritLit, and Arts Dundas Weekend and was a long-time employee of Bryan Prince Bookseller.

Teba Faisal

Teba Faisal has been a Board Member at Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice since 2019. As a passionate advocate for marginalized groups within the art sector, Teba is Chair of the Accessibility and Inclusivity committee. Teba is helping guide Centre[3] in designing a new accessible website and has also served a volunteer gallery attendant at the Hamilton Artists Inc.

Creator Awards

Aaron Joel Craig

Aaron Joel Craig is a director, dramaturge, designer and performer. As a founding member of Same Boat Theatre, he has a passion for developing new work with local artists. His work focuses on questions of identity, power and how to stay hopeful in a difficult world.



André Bisson

Hamilton’s André Bisson has been performing his unique blend of original Rhythm & Blues and Soul throughout Canada, USA, and Europe. He has recorded, composed and arranged 8 award winning studio albums reaching orchestrations of up to 20 pieces and has led to several international tours and sold-out concerts.



Andrew McPhail

Andrew McPhail is a Canadian visual artist based in Hamilton, Ontario. His accumulative, craft-oriented work re-configures ephemeral materials such as Band Aids, Kleenex, pins, sequins and post-its into large sculptures, installations and events. He also co-founded the Hundred Dollar Gallery and is a founding member of The Assembly.


Andrew O’Connor

Andrew O’Connor is a multidisciplinary artist and developer. A Hamilton native, he is known for his intimate and expressive audiovisual performances, interactive installations, and esoteric approach to optics and technology. O’Connor has exhibited and performed in Europe, the United States, and Canada. He is a co-founder of OPTICKS and HAVN.

Ariel Bader-Shamai

Ariel is a multidisciplinary artist whose work emphasizes the interactive intimacy that exists between people and art by focusing on touch, sentimentality, and memory. Ariel co-founded HAVN (2012-2020) where she developed and exhibited her practice, managed a community darkroom, and connected with a multitude of artists across disciplines to present their work.


Azuline Duo

Azuline Duo pushes the boundaries of the flute and guitar with unusual repertoire and a dynamic onstage presence. They tour throughout North America and have a mission to bring live classical music to rural Canada.Azuline Duo makes a lasting impression with innovative performances on both traditional and unexpected stages.



Bill Majoros (The Foreign Films)

Bill Majoros is a singer/ songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist known as The Foreign Films. He’s played hundreds of shows internationally and released 5 acclaimed albums, including a triple vinyl LP. His latest album, Ocean Moon, reached number one on numerous radio stations worldwide. Majoros is a proud ambassador of Hamilton’s creative community.



Colette Kendall

Colette Kendallis a three-time Canadian Comedy award nominee and veteran of the Fringe Festival circuit. As Executive Director of the Staircase Theatre, Colette’s goal was to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive space. One where local artists could incubate without financial inaccessibility being a barrier to expression.

Daniel Edmonds

Daniel Edmonds is a musician and visual artist based in Hamilton, Ontario. His artistic processes involve composition, production and illustration. His work reflects a collaborative approach to making art and emphasizes cooperative creativity. In practice, his audio and visual work display an understanding of both analog and digital techniques.



David Brace

David Brace is a painter in Hamilton. His work examines the acceptable, legislated trauma that we accept as normal. Through the lens of infrastructural bias (real and digital) David repurposes Twitter images, the Google Street View algorithm, and the ubiquitous smart phone to look at broken systems.


Emma Smith

Emma Smith is an award-winning potter living in the rural outskirts of Hamilton ON. Her artistic practice includes the building and firing of her wood burning kiln, coil building functional tableware, aerial dance, and creative writing. Her ceramic work has exhibited internationally, and she teaches workshops across the continent.


Hamilton Aerial Group

Hamilton Aerial Group (HAG) is a circus arts collective based in Hamilton, Ontario. Their mandate is to create educational, highly artistic and entertaining performances for the community. They specialize in aerial arts, stilt walking, acro-balancing and puppetry and in producing high quality theatrical performances with extraordinary costumes.

Jennifer Gillies

Jennifer Gillies started as a volunteer with gritLIT in its second year and has been employed as artistic director since the festival was incorporated. She has also worked as a freelance writer and editor and has taught Creative Writing at Mohawk College and at Sheridan College in Oakville.



Jim Ruxton

Jim Ruxton is an award-winning media artist and electronics engineer. He works and collaborates in film, installation, theatre and dance fusing technology with art, often creating work that is interactive. Recipient of an OAC Chalmers Award, two Dora Mavor Moore Awards and granted LED lighting patents, Jim directed the art and science festival, Subtle Technologies for 17 years.

Jolanta Oko

An experienced leader, visionary and accomplished academic in Canadian dance education, Jolanta Oko is the Founder/Director of Canada’s National Academy of Dance Education. Passionate about promoting 21st-century dance teacher education in studios and school boards, Jolanta’s mission attracts dance scholars, academics, educators and researchers from across the globe.


Jordi Alfaro

Based in Hamilton, Jordi is a settler/immigrant from Barcelona. Jordi’s creative practice consists of ceramic sculptures that express material presence in its elemental forms. Through attention to surface, form and scale, the sculptures embody a timeless quality, inhabiting space with a quiet equilibrium in the way of rocks or architecture.

Karen Ancheta

Karen Ancheta is an actor by training, a storyteller w/Hamilton 7, co-founder @porchlighttheatrehamilton (developing & supporting of marginalized Emerging/Professional Theatre Artists), 1/7 founder of The Garden Project:, collaborator with Kwentong Bayan Collective, vocal coach at Humber College, a mentor for The House Key Project.



Laura Ellis

Laura Ellis is a local actor, director, writer and arts educator. Throughout her career, she has created local initiatives such as “Women’s Work” and the “Hamilton LOFT” which provides opportunities to underrepresented artists in the community and offers access to affordable training, professional mentorship, and space to create and promote their work.

Leon ‘Eklipz’ Robinson

Leon ‘Eklipz’ Robinson is a multi-dimensional artist who utilizes a vast skill set for the expression of Self. Throughout the years a constant muse has been his connection to Hip Hop Culture. His work is bold and dynamic and speaks to his life experiences.


Lyla Miklos

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



Michael Allgoewer

Michael Allgoewer is a Hamilton based visual artist. His work consists of assemblage-based installations, which often use altered found objects, to elucidate universal, metaphysical themes. His paintings are minimalist and rigorous in conception and execution. He has shown at the AGH, McMaster Museum of Art and the McMichael Canadian Collection.


Nora Hutchinson

Nora Hutchinson is an internationally exhibited artist and teacher. She has taught at The Ontario College of Art and Design, University of Guelph and York University. She is the recipient of the Portland Oregon Award and Video Roma Award, Rome Italy and Hamilton Arts Award

Olivia Brouwer

Olivia Brouwer is a mixed media painter, printmaker, and sculptor from Hamilton, Ontario. Brouwer translates her own partial blindness into art that raises awareness around visual impairment and accessibility using abstract interpretations of nature and spiritual themes related to blindness.


Rae Bates

Rae Bates is an artist and researcher living and working in Hamilton, Ontario. As a figurative artist, she is known for her craftsmanship and attention to movement, and as an illustrator for her work’s lyric expression of childhood. Bates has been a dedicated art educator for more than twenty years.

Steacy Easton

Steacy Easton is a writer and artist from Hamilton. They write often about gender, desire, and the city, for local, national, and international publications. Their visual practice includes performance, photography, and video.



Stephanie Hope Lawlor

Stephanie Hope Lawlor is a Hamilton-based theatre maker, teaching artist and actor. She loves approaching her artistic work with a sense of whimsy and play, and fully believes in the transformative power of theatre and its unmatchable ability to create community.



stylo starr

stylo starr is an established visual alchemist and creative facilitator based in Hamilton, Ontario. Her artistic process involves both digital and hand cut paper collage, with a focus on found vintage media. Her work is a meditation on Black culture, life and fantasy.


Yuma Hester

Yuma Hester is a cofounder of the Bawaadan Collective, a group Indigenous artisans and accomplices. They work collaboratively through film and media production. All of their content is created in partnership with other indigenous creators and storytellers. They have a community development background, and it is their primary goal to centre indigenous voices through their work