Arts Awards

Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Commission Prize

The City of Hamilton Arts Awards program is pleased to partner with the Hamilton Community Foundation to present the Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Commission Prize.  In 2022 two emerging artists (practicing in any discipline) will each be given a $2000 commission fee to create an artwork that explores contemporary themes related to Hamilton’s evolving identity. The commissions will be presented at the 2023 City of Hamilton Arts Awards Event. This Prize is 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 Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Commission 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.

Prize recipients selected by a jury, will receive:

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

Submit an application

Applications are due on or before Friday March 11, 2022
Incomplete applications and / or applications received after the deadline will not be accepted. Emailed, faxed, and post-dated submissions will not be accepted. Submissions must be made online via Submittable or by mail only. Please review the application package before submitting your application form.

Application Package
Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Commission Prize Package (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Plain Text Version (PDF, 205 KB)

Button "apply online"

For mail in submissions
Print the completed application form included with the application package and mail to:
Arts Awards c/o Cobalt Connects
652 Parkdale Ave. North
Hamilton, Ontario L8H 5Z4

Note Due to COVID-19 restrictions, in person deliveries are not available for the 2022 program.

Commission Details

The intention of this opportunity is to showcase contemporary, emerging art practices that are reflective of the broader Hamilton arts community and the city’s evolving identity. The selected artists will be announced at the 2022 City of Hamilton Arts Awards and the commissioned artwork will be showcased at the 2023 City of Hamilton Arts Awards ceremony. This ceremony is typically a live event that attracts upwards of 500 people. There will be a variety of options to present artwork ranging from on-stage productions (e.g. performances of music, theatre, dance, spoken word, etc.) to installations and performances during the welcome reception (e.g. sculpture, performance art, exhibition / displays, etc.) to screen-based presentations (e.g. short film, new media, etc.). This opportunity is open to artists practicing in all mediums however the commissioned work must be in a format that can be presented at a live event.

  • The artwork must be presented at the 2023 City of Hamilton Arts Awards, which will take place in early June (exact date TBD). It is anticipated that this will be an in-person event however artwork that could be presented in either an in-person or online format is encouraged due to uncertainty regarding the pandemic.
  • Due to time limitations at the event, if the artwork is a full-length play, album, film or other longer work, the commissioned artist will be asked to select an excerpt for presentation.
  • The commission fee is $2000. This fee includes the recipient’s artist fee and all costs related to the creation / production of the artwork.
  • The Arts Awards program will provide support and resources to assist with the public presentation of the work (e.g. equipment rental, audio / visual equipment, artist fees for performers other than the commission recipient, staffing to assist with installation, etc.).  A budget of approximately $500 per commission has been allocated for costs related to the presentation of the artwork.
  • The commissioned artists will retain all moral rights and copyright to the artwork.  As part of the terms of the commission, the City will license the artworks for the promotion of  and display at the Arts Awards event; the artist will take possession of the work following the event.
  • The commissioned artists will be expected to prepare an initial project proposal in early 2023 for feedback and provide a more detailed proposal once additional event details and location are confirmed.  The commission fee will be paid subject to the approval of the project proposal by the Director of Tourism and Culture or their designate.

Please read the following guidelines to ensure that you meet all eligibility requirements.

  • Individual artist who is 18 years of age or older or an artistic collective (e.g. band, duo, troupe, collaborative, etc.) whose members are 18 years of age or older.  Note, performers under the age of 18 years are permitted provided the project leaders / lead applicants are 18 years or older.
  • Artist or majority of collective members (minimum 75%) have been practicing professionally for less than five years (full-time students are not eligible).Full-time students are not eligible (high school or post-secondary students in an art program).
  • 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 at the time of submission.
  • Artistic collectives 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.
  • Must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident (Landed Immigrant) or have an application pending for Permanent Residency.
  • May be self-taught or have art training through formal education, apprenticeship, or with a mentor or elder.
  • Previous Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize winners are not eligible to apply.
  • Previous City of Hamilton Emerging Artist Award recipients may apply.

An independent jury comprised of emerging artists and arts professionals representing a variety of disciplines will evaluate the applications. A member of the Arts Advisory Commission or 2022 Arts Awards Final Jury will audit the jury session to ensure a fair and transparent process (non-voting position).

The jurors will select the strongest application based on scoring criteria shared in the application form and subsequent jury deliberation. Nominations must achieve a minimum benchmark score to be eligible for the award.  If the benchmark is not met, the jury reserves the right to not select a winner.

Adjudication will take place in Spring 2022 and Prize recipients announced at a public event (or online presentation) in June 2022 as part of Hamilton Arts Week.

Stay up to date with the City of Hamilton Arts Awards

Subscribe to the Arts Awards mailing list to be informed when the program is open for Commission Prize submissions.

The City of Hamilton collects information under Section 227 of the Municipal Act, 2001. Any personal information collected for City of Hamilton Arts Awards newsletter will be used to email you the newsletter. By providing your email address, you are consenting to receiving emails from the City of Hamilton and/or their agents/contractors for information provision purposes. Information collected for this initiative may be stored on servers located in Canada and the United States and may be subject to Canadian and/or American laws.

Questions about the collection of this personal information can be directed to City of Hamilton Arts Awards, [email protected] 905-546-2424 ext. 7612

Contact us

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