Arts Awards

Nominate an Artist

2020 Arts Awards

Welcome to the 2021 Arts Awards Submission Process!

Nominations are due by Friday, January 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm
The City of Hamilton Arts Awards recognizes the outstanding achievements of our local arts community, the individual artists and organizations who are its ambassadors, and the community members who support and engage in this work throughout our community. Based on consultation with the arts community a new program format will be piloted in 2021. This process will make nominations easier for the public, allow for more flexibility in award categories and provide opportunities for the awards to be more inclusive and responsive in celebrating the evolving arts community each year.

Lifetime Achievement Award


The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes living artists and arts managers who have contributed substantially to the artistic vitality of the city over the course of a career, and have inspired others through their leadership, creativity and artistic excellence. These individuals’ experience and impact may be local, national or international in scope.

Lifetime Achievement Award recipients selected by a jury will each receive:

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

Creator Awards


The Creator Award recognizes living artists or artistic collectives working in any artistic discipline and at any career level. A minimum of eight Creator Awards will be given each year to recognize artistic excellence and/or innovation that contributes to artistic growth in the city, progresses the artform and expresses the cultural vitality and diversity of Hamilton’s art scene. Note: Emerging artists and bands / art collectives are eligible for nomination for this award.

Creator Award recipients selected by a jury will each receive:

  • Minimum of 8 Awards, $2500 per award
  • Arts Awards bronze commemorative medal designed by artist Dora de Pédery-Hunt
  • Civic and media recognition

Arts Champion Award


The Arts Champion Award recognizes living individuals who are outstanding supporters of the arts in Hamilton as volunteers, advocates, or board members. This is a non-monetary award and recipients will be given a special gift of recognition. This award is open to adults and youth over 14 years old.

Arts Champion Award recipients, selected by a jury will receive:

  • Maximum of 4 non-monetary awards
  • A special gift of recognition
  • Civic and media recognition

Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Commission Prize


New for 2021!  Two emerging artists will be awarded a commission to create an artwork that will be presented at the 2022 Arts Awards event. There is a separate application process and deadline for this Prize. More information to come.

Prize recipients selected by a jury, will receive:

  • $2,000 in artist fees per award
  • Presentation of their work at the Arts Awards Event or Online Presentation
  • Civic and media recognition

Eligibility criteria & guidelines

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

All Nominees (All Award Categories)

  • 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.
  • All Award categories are open to all artistic disciplines including but not limited to: Arts Management, Arts Education & Community Arts, Dance & Performing Arts, Fine Craft, Visual Arts, Media Arts, Music and Writing.

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Individual artist who is 18 years of age or older (artistic collectives are not eligible for Lifetime Achievement).
  • Has been practicing professionally a minimum of fifteen years.
  • 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 award winners (in other categories) may be nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Creator Award

  • Nominee must be actively producing work (actively within the last three years).
  • Individual artist who is 18 years of age or older or an artistic collective (e.g. band, duo, troupe, collective, etc.).
  • Artistic collectives (e.g. bands, duos, troupes, collaboratives, etc.) are eligible for nomination provided that a minimum of 75% of the collective has lived in Hamilton consecutively for the past two years or longer.
  • Nominee may be self-taught or have art training through formal education, apprenticeship, or with a mentor or elder.
  • Artists at all career levels (i.e. emerging, mid-career, established) may be nominated.
  • Full-time students are not eligible (high school or post-secondary).
  • Individuals who have received an Established Artist, Lifetime Achievement or Arts Innovation Award through the City of Hamilton Arts Awards in the past five years are not eligible for a Creator Award.  Past Emerging Artist Award recipients may be nominated.

Arts Champion Award

  • Nominee must be a current volunteer (activity within the last three years) with an arts-based organization, event or ad hoc group.
  • Individual who is 14 years of age or older. 
  • Full-time students (high-school or post-secondary) are eligible for this award.
  • Volunteer activities may include (but are not limited to):  Boards of Directors, events staff, administrative / operational assistance, etc.
  • 18 years of age or older.
  • Can be an individual, organization or business residing in any city.
  • Cannot be an immediate family member of the nominee.
  • Artists cannot self-nominate.
  • Cannot be a member of the Arts Advisory Commission, Cobalt Connects staff, or City of Hamilton staff, elected officials and representatives of their offices.

Public nominations will be reviewed and by a large, multi-disciplinary panel of artists and arts professionals who will suggest additional nominees according to their professional knowledge. A short-list of approximately 45 shortlisted artists will be contacted directly to provide supporting documents. Short-listed artists who choose to proceed will be evaluated by a jury comprised of artists and arts professionals.

Nominations in each category are evaluated using the same scoring criteria and must achieve a minimum benchmark score to be considered for an Award. A member of the Arts Advisory Commission will audit adjudication to ensure a fair and transparent process (this is a non-voting position). Adjudication for all awards will take place in Spring 2021 and award recipients announced at a public event (or online presentation) in June 2021 as part of Hamilton Arts Week.

Nomination process

To reduce barriers to entry and encourage greater community engagement, diversity and inclusion, nominators are no longer required to submit full artist packages (i.e. CV, artist statement, artwork samples, etc.).The nominator now only must submit contact information and a brief statement outlining why they feel the artist, arts professional or community supporter should be nominated. More detailed materials will be collected directly from shortlisted artists.

How to submit a nomination package

Nomination are due on or before Friday January 22, 2021 by 11:59 pm.
Incomplete nominations and / or nominations received after the deadline will not be accepted. Emailed, faxed, and post-dated submissions will not be accepted. Important! Artwork samples or additional supporting documentation is not required for Phase One: Public Nomination. Additional materials will be discarded in the interest of fairness.

Please review the nomination package before submitting your nomination forms.
2021 Nomination Package (PDF, 290 KB) | Plain Text Version (PDF, 196 KB)

Complete your nomination forms online:

For mail in submissions, print the form included with the nomination package above and mail to:

Arts Awards c/o Cobalt Connects
724 Barton Street East
Hamilton, Ontario L8L 3A8
Note Due to COVID-19 restrictions, in person deliveries are not available for the 2021 program.

Contact us

If you have questions contact:
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 7612
Email: [email protected]