Metcalf Foundation Announces 15 Finalists for the 2023 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes

The Metcalf Foundation is pleased to announce the 15 finalists for the 2023 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène (Johannas) with a total value of $195,000 in prizes. The five winners will each receive a prize of $25,000 and will be announced on November 29, 2023 at a ceremony at the Gardiner Museum.

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. From the 15 finalists, five winners will be selected who will each receive a prize of $25,000. Each winner will name a protégé who will be 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 will receive a prize of $2,000, bringing the total value of the prizes to $195,000.

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. 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 Metcalf Foundation is such an important and innovative arts funder, and to be recognized by them with a Johanna Metcalf prize was such a wonderful boost of confidence to receive. It was even more special to be able to support a younger artist like Aaron Jan, someone who deserves attention for the work he is making and community he is building. To be part of the community of nominees and artists who received the prize was to be in the company of some inspiring artists.

Ravi Jain

Winner of a 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize

Nominees for the 2023 Johannas were selected by peers in partnership with the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) through over 20 juried OAC competitions in dance, music/opera, and theatre, as well as competitions focused on Francophone, Indigenous, and Northern communities. Artists who have been producing and showing work over a period of at least 10 years were eligible to be nominated.

The 15 finalists for the 2023 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes/Les Prix Johanna-Metcalf des Arts de la scène are:

Keith Barker, theatre director, playwright, and actor
Sina Bathaie, composer and musician
Sid Bobb, multidisciplinary artist
Emily Cheung, choreographer
Penny Couchie, choreographer and multidisciplinary artist
Alain Doom, playwright and actor
John Kameel Farah, composer and pianist
ShoShona Kish, songwriter
Tanya Lukin Linklater, multidisciplinary artist
Natasha Powell, choreographer and dancer
Suba Sankaran, composer and musician
Roydon Tse, composer
Vineet Vyas, tabla artist
Mandy Woo, composer
Sashar Zarif, choreographer and multidisciplinary artist

The 2023 finalist jurors were: Tova Arbus, President of Fringe North; Herbie Barnes, Artistic Director of Young People’s Theatre; iskwē, musician and 2021 Johannas winner; Umair Jaffar, Executive Director of Small World Music; Ange Loft, Associate Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre; Karine Ricard, Artistic Director of Théâtre français de Toronto; and Heidi Strauss, Artistic Director of adelheid dance projects.

It was an incredible process, as a jury member, to discover the diverse creativity from this year’s nominees. To narrow it down to 15 finalists was challenging and exciting. Every one of these artists are strong, dynamic, and inspiring, and set a very high bar when it comes to artistic excellence.

Tova Arbus

President of Fringe North

The five winners of the Johannas in 2021 were: composer Ian Cusson; musician iskwē; theatre director Ravi Jain; multidisciplinary artist Sandra Laronde; and theatre director and playwright Marilo Nuñez. The five 2021 protégés were: Beverley McKiver, Zeegwon “Zee” Shilling, Aaron Jan, Aria Evans, and Margarita Valderrama.

Established in 1960, the Metcalf Foundation has three principal focus areas: the performing arts, the environment, and inclusive local economies. Through all of its work, Metcalf cultivates, supports, and celebrates those working on the frontlines of social change to improve the health and vibrancy of our communities, our culture, and the environment. The Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes celebrate promising individuals who will play a pivotal role in defining the performing arts sector’s future. Metcalf invests approximately $2 million each year in the performing arts.

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Media contact
: Ashley Belmer, B-Rebel Communications,

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