2023 Johannas winners and protégés Roydon Tse, Sami Anguaya, Natasha Powell, Raoul Wilke, Keith Barker, Chris Mejaki, Shirsha Chakraborty, Suba Sankaran, John Kameel Farah, and Evan Pointner. Photo: Kalila Snow Jan
Celebrating the 2023 Johannas
2024

On November 29, 2023, we announced the recipients of the 2023 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène (Johannas) at a ceremony at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. From the 15 finalists, five winners were selected who each received a prize of $25,000. Each winner named a protégé who was awarded $10,000 as a way of celebrating early career artists who are showing formidable promise. Starting this year, each of the remaining 10 finalists received a prize of $2,000. In total, $195,000 in prizes were awarded.

The Johannas is one of the largest unrestricted prizes for artists in Ontario, celebrating mid-career artists across the disciplines of dance, theatre, and music/opera.

2023 Johannas Winners & Protégés

Keith Barker & Chris Mejaki
John Kameel Farah & Evan Pointner
Natasha Powell & Raoul Wilke
Suba Sankaran & Shirsha Chakraborty
Roydon Tse & Sami Anguaya

 

The 2023 Johannas ceremony was held at the Gardiner Museum; the art direction and design was led by The Office of Gilbert Li.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

The commissioned award was once again designed and created by ceramic artists Thomas Aiken and Kate Hyde. Johanna Metcalf was a long-time friend of Thomas’s mother and collected and supported the couple’s work.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Metcalf Performing Arts Program Director Michael Trent, Ontario Arts Council Awards Officer Carolyn Gloude, and Metcalf Grants Manager Heather Dunford.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Michael Leuty.

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Natalie Leuty.

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Metcalf Environment Program Director Andre Vallillee speaking with guests.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Certificates each of the winners and protégés received, designed by The Office of Gilbert Li.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Rohana Buzamlak.

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Luminato Festival Producer/Programmer Adam Barrett.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Ontario Trillium Foundation Partnerships Lead Liz Forsberg and former Toronto Arts Council Director and CEO Claire Hopkinson.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Arts consultant Menon Dwarka.

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Nightswimming Producer Gloria Mok.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Ceramic artists Kate Hyde and Thomas Aiken.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Metcalf Adaptive Facilitator Alicia Payne.

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Inspirit Foundation Director of Programming Christopher Lee.

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Johanna’s granddaughter Imoinda Romain.

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Johanna’s great-grandson.

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Peter Scowen and Laura Calder.

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2023 Johannas ceremony host and Metcalf Performing Arts Program Director Michael Trent.

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Metcalf Board Chair and Johanna’s daughter, Kirsten Hanson, delivering the opening remarks.

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Susan McNee.

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Maud Houston and Kirsten Hanson applauding with other guests.

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The remaining 10 finalists of the 2023 Johannas.

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Shirsha Chakraborty, a songwriter and musician, protégé of Suba Sankaran.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Former Metcalf Board Member Jean Wright.

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Winner Suba Sankaran, a composer and musician.

Jury comments:
Suba crosses a lot of boundaries. She has brought her musical traditions into a modern context. Suba has a unique musical approach that is infectious, joyful, playful and fun. 

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

“Music is a powerful tool. We can move people, we can reveal our innermost thoughts through our art. We can heal together and build community through raising our literal voices. We can tell stories and make sense of our complex planet through song. Music is my life-breath.” – Suba Sankaran

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Shirsha Chakraborty and Suba Sankaran.

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Members of Suba Sankaran’s family in the front row.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Sami Anguaya, a composer and singer, protégé of Roydon Tse.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Winner Roydon Tse, a composer.

Jury comments:
We really appreciate the duality of Roydon’s practice with both Western and Eastern influences, and the settler and immigrant experience. This is epic musical storytelling. Bright sharp sound. 

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

“I am ultimately grateful for all of those challenges because it showed me that this was something I had to pursue, no matter the odds, something worth the sacrifice that came with this path. To me, music sweeps me off my feet and moves me in a way I simply cannot explain, and living without it would feel empty.” – Roydon Tse

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Sami Anguaya and Roydon Tse.

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Chris Mejaki walking onto the stage.

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Chris Mejaki, an actor and playwright, protégé of Keith Barker.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Margaret McNee and Nancy McNee.

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Judith Robertson.

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Anandam Dancetheatre Productions Artistic Director Brandy Leary.

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York University Executive Officer Sally Han.

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2019 Johannas winner Maryem Tollar.

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Winner Keith Barker, a theatre director, playwright, and actor.

Jury comments:
Keith’s work tells the simple and truthful stories of real people. He works on the ground. Demonstrates that truth and authenticity is important.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

“When I graduated high school, my mom cried, because she didn’t think I would make it. I didn’t see my first play until I was 17. How does a young kid with no understanding about the arts end up here? His family, friends, his colleagues, his wife Catherine, and the hundreds of strangers he meets along the way.” – Keith Barker

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Chris Mejaki and Keith Barker.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Evan Pointner, a composer and musician, protégé of John Kameel Farah.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Winner John Kameel Farah, a composer and pianist.

Jury comments:
John’s self-defined genre is awesome, “Baroque-Mid-Eastern Cyberpunk.” This is a unique creative path. Very exciting. Lots of flavours. Introspective atmosphere. He is a profound collaborator.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

“Along with the connection to ancient things, there is also a strong element of futurism to my music. I feel the futurism isn’t for a love of aesthetics, but also NEEDED, because conditions of the present for many are often unbearable, so a distant vision of something better is almost an act to present hope.” – John Kameel Farah

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Evan Pointner and John Kameel Farah.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Raoul Wilke, a multidisciplinary artist, protégé of Natasha Powell.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Audience members recording Raoul’s remarks.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Winner Natasha Powell, a choreographer and dancer.

Jury comments:
Natasha’s work is a very enjoyable celebratory mix of house and jazz and eras and styles and culture. Her style is joyful, vibrant and new. Her unique work is uplifting and bright.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

“This prize has made me realize how much I hide myself and my work, but I don’t want to do that anymore. Diving in to jazz, the dancing, the music, the culture has completely changed my life, and I know it can impact so many more.” – Natasha Powell

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Raoul Wilke and Natasha Powell acknowledging one another.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Raoul Wilke and Natasha Powell.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

The 2023 Johannas winners and protégés on the stage together for a fun group shot: Roydon Tse, Sami Anguaya, Natasha Powell, Raoul Wilke, Keith Barker, Chris Mejaki, Shirsha Chakraborty, Suba Sankaran, John Kameel Farah, and Evan Pointner.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Pulga Muchochoma shaking hands with Brian Loevner.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Katie Roland and former Metcalf Board Member Anne Wigle.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Ontario Arts Council CEO Michael Murray with 2023 Johannas protégés Evan Pointner and Shirsha Chakraborty.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Tapestry Opera Director of Advancement Stephanie Applin and Obsidian Theatre Company General Manager Michael Sinclair.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Ontario Arts Council Dance Officer Soraya Peerbaye and 2021 Johannas protégé Aria Evans.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Metcalf Board Chair Kirsten Hanson and Metcalf President and CEO Sandy Houston.

Photo: Kalila Snow Jan

Ceremony Credits

METCALF BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sandy Houston
President and CEO

Kirsten Hanson
Chair

Peter Hanson
Treasurer

John McNee
Luke Metcalf
Pamela Robinson
Ken Rosenberg
Robert Sirman

PRIZE ADVISORS

Tova Arbus
Fringe North

Herbie Barnes
Young People’s Theatre

Iskwē
Musician and 2021 Johannas Winner

Umair Jaffar
Small World Music

Ange Loft
Jumblies Theatre

Karine Ricard
Théâtre français de Toronto

Heidi Strauss
adelheid dance projects

Maud Houston

EVENT PRODUCTION

Speaker
Kirsten Hanson

Award Design
Thomas Aitken & Kate Hyde

PR Consultant
Ashley Belmer, B-Rebel Communications

Metcalf Foundation
Gabrielle Applewhaite & Heather Dunford

Photography
Kalila Snow Jan

Translation
Dominique Denis

Producer & Host
Michael Trent

Associate Producer
Jennie Tao

BRAND CREATIVE

Art Direction & Design
The Office of Gilbert Li

Signature Lettering
Jessica Hische

Principal Photography
Shalan and Paul

Vase Photography
Paul Weeks

Make Up and Grooming
Romy Zack

Wardrobe Styling
Sara Roberts

Certificate Printing
Passion Letterpress

Imaging
Paul Jerinkitsch

Thanks especially to the Ontario Arts Council team for their enormous contribution to the delivery of the prizes: Carolyn Gloude and Rohana Buzamlak.