Metcalf Foundation Announces 15 Finalists for the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène

The Metcalf Foundation is pleased to announce today the 15 finalists for the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène (Johannas). The five winners and their protégés will be announced on May 19, 2022 at a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Each winner will receive a prize of $25,000 and will name a protégé as a way of celebrating early career artists who are showing formidable promise. Protégés will be awarded $10,000 each, a $5,000 increase from the inaugural prize year, bringing the total value of the prizes to $175,000.

This performing arts prize is named in honour of Johanna Metcalf, who was at the heart of the Metcalf Foundation’s work for over 40 years. The prize was created to carry on Johanna’s legacy as a passionate supporter of the arts and artists. The Johannas celebrate artists in Ontario who have made a recognized impact on the field and the public, and show great promise in the ongoing pursuit of their ambitious and visionary practices.

Fifteen finalists have been selected from across Ontario in the disciplines of dance, theatre, and music/opera, including artists who are working in the spaces between and across these disciplines.

The 15 finalists for the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène are:

Nina Lee Aquino, theatre director
Natasha Bakht, choreographer and contemporary dancer
Ian Cusson, composer
John Kameel Farah, composer and pianist
Yaovi Hoyi (YAO), musician and entrepreneur
iskwē, musician
Ravi Jain, theatre director
Rosina Kazi, musician
Sandra Laronde, multidisciplinary artist
Marie-Thé Morin, theatre creator
Marilo Nuñez, theatre director and playwright
Kevin A. Ormsby, choreographer
Juliet Palmer, composer
Peter “Alo” White, spiritual guide and musician
Norman Yeung, playwright

“Being awarded a Johanna opened doors and propelled my theatre work to the next level,” said Sunny Drake, 2019 Johanna winner. “It was a fantastic burst of encouragement at a time when I needed it — a ‘keep going’ in an industry full of ‘just give ups.’ The prize money helped me take some artistic risks, which have truly paid off.”

The Johannas is delivered on a biennial basis in partnership with the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). The nominees are selected through several juried OAC competitions in dance, music/opera, and theatre, including creators from Francophone, Indigenous, and Northern communities. Artists who have been producing and showing work over a period of at least 10 years are eligible.

“The last two years have been an unimaginable period for the arts and artists. We are delighted by this opportunity, once again, to celebrate some truly remarkable artists,” said Kirsten Hanson, Board Chair, Metcalf Foundation. “While we are still in the midst of regaining our footing in many respects, we hope this can be a moment of inspiration and optimism for what lies ahead. Let’s continue to seek, as Johanna always did, truths and transformations in the magic of theatre, music, and dance.”

The five winners of the inaugural Johannas in 2019 were: playwright and theatre creator Sunny Drake; composer and classical pianist Alice Ping Yee Ho; composer James Rolfe; multidisciplinary artist Santee Smith; and world music performer and composer Maryem Tollar. The five protégés were: Bilal Baig; Roydon Tse; Sophie Dupuis; Cody Berry; and Demetrios Petsalakis.

Established in 1960, the Metcalf Foundation has three principal areas of focus: the performing arts, the environment, and poverty reduction. Through all of its work, the Foundation cultivates, supports, and celebrates those working on the frontlines of social change in order to improve the health and vibrancy of our communities, our culture, and the environment.

The Metcalf Foundation’s Performing Arts program supports innovation and leadership through a series of initiatives targeted at Toronto-based organizations and individuals from across the province of Ontario. Multi-year strategic funding initiatives help organizations build the capacity to adapt in rapidly changing environments and internships match promising leaders with exceptional mentors. The Johanna Metcalf Prizes celebrate promising individuals who will play a pivotal role in defining the performing arts sector’s future. The Foundation invests approximately $2.2 million each year in the performing arts.


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: Damien Nelson,

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