There are a variety of theatre and performance awards across Canada. Awards can be useful on a producing level for a few reasons: they help build a reputation for your company or collective and can help support future productions, tours, and remounts. Some awards come with cash prizes. But it's not always worth competing for an award - it's important to weigh the pros and cons before submitting your project for consideration. Some things to consider include:
- Is there an application or registration fee? How much is it? Will that take up a significant amount of your budget? Is it worth it?
- How large is the category your project will be competing in?
- What types of projects have historically won in those categories?
- Is it important for the next phase of this project or this company's development to be considered for an award?
Find out more information on your production's eligibility and how you can apply to have your work considered for an award in your region below.
In addition to awards recognizing work on individual productions, this page also includes information about ancillary awards, honorary awards, and some grants and scholarships associated with awards.
The Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Dora Awards) are Toronto’s annual performing arts awards, presented by TAPA (the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts). “The Doras honour the creators of approximately 200 theatre, dance and opera productions annually in 50 categories over 7 Divisions: General Theatre, Independent Theatre, Musical Theatre, Theatre for Young Audiences, Dance, Opera, and Touring. The awards in each division are voted on by a jury of eight to twelve individuals drawn from the professional performing arts community.” (From the history of the Dora’s, TAPA website.)
Want to have your production considered for the Dora awards? The producing company must be a registered TAPA Professional Member in good standing at the time of registering the production. Professional membership dues start around $500 (this information was last updated June 9, 2020). The producing company must fill out a Dora Registration Form (found via the member services section of your TAPA login) and submit the registration a minimum of 28 days prior to Opening Night.
The Dora Awards Eligibility Handbook: This resource provides an in-depth look at what your production needs in order to be considered for the awards. It is updated regularly.
There are seven divisions that receive awards:
- General Theatre
- Musical Theatre
- Independent Theatre
The Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Outstanding Leadership in Administration (LMJH Award) is an annual award that honours the important work of senior theatre, dance and opera administrators. Inaugurated in 2008, it was named after Leonard McHardy and John Harvey, the celebrated co-founders of Toronto’s beloved Theatrebooks (1975-2014). The LMJH Award is administered by TAPA. Candidates for the LMJH Award are nominated by TAPA members and then reviewed by the LMJH Selection Committee. The award winner receives a plaque and a cheque for $1,000 (sponsorship by the estate of Elizabeth Comper). (Information last updated June 19, 2020)
The Pauline McGibbon Award For Unique Talents and Potential for Excellence was established in 1981, honouring former Lieutenant Governor Pauline McGibbon for her support and patronage of the arts. It includes a $7,000 prize and a medal. The award is presented to an Ontario-resident professional artist in the early stages of their career who has contributed to the well-being of Ontario’s theatre community, displays unique talent and has the potential for excellence. The award is cyclical in nature: the first year of the three-year cycle, the award goes to a designer, the second year to a director, and the third year to a production craftsperson. The award is given each year by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and is administered by the Ontario Arts Council. (Information last updated June 19, 2020)
Established in 1996 in recognition of Barbara Hamilton’s career, this award is presented to a Canadian artist who demonstrates excellence in the performing arts and is dedicated to advocating and being an ambassador for the arts in Canada. The award is administered by the City of Toronto with calls for nominations sent out from TAPA. The Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award is presented every two years and comes with a cheque for $1,500 and a scroll from the City of Toronto. (Information last updated June 19, 2020)
This award recognizes an individual for mentorship in theatre, honouring revolutionary theatre founder and artistic director George Luscombe. The George Luscombe Award is presented every two years. The recipient, who is nominated by TAPA member(s) and chosen by a designated committee, receives a cash prize of $1,000. (Information last updated June 19, 2020)
Any further questions or inquiries about the Dora Awards or any of the TAPA programs/ offerings can be directed to their contact page.
The Herbert Whittaker / CTCA Award is given to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to Canadian theatre.
Founding Chairman of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association, one of the founders of the Toronto Drama Bench and Critic Emeritus of The Globe and Mail, Herbert Whittaker (1910-2006) had a long, distinguished career in Canada as a theatre critic and author. Whittaker also worked in the theatre, designing, and directing stage productions in Canada. In 1997, with the dissolution of the Toronto Drama Bench, which had given out its own Canadian theatre award annually over a period of 25 years, the Canadian Theatre Critics Association renamed the prize the Herbert Whittaker/Drama Bench Award in his honour.
Nominations come from the entire membership of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association. The award, including a framed certificate and honorarium, is given out every two years. See a list of previous honourees here.
The CTCA also gives out three awards every two years for critical writing: Outstanding Review, Outstanding Critical Essay, and Outstanding Emerging Critic. More on those here.
The Merritt Awards celebrate Nova Scotia’s outstanding talent in the theatre industry. Named for the late Dalhousie Theatre professor, Robert Merritt, the awards were established in 2002 and highlight the wealth and calibre of theatre creation and production in the province each year.
Professional productions are juried throughout the year, and exceptional performances, direction, design and more are honoured in March.
Only productions of Theatre Nova Scotia current professional theatre member companies or ad hoc groups/artist collectives are eligible (more on that here).
Fill out the online submission form through the Theatre Nova Scotia submission portal. All submissions must be received 6 weeks before a production's first performance. No late submissions will be accepted.
Nova Scotian Playwrights are eligible to be nominated in the category of Outstanding New Play / Outstanding New Adaptation. New Play is defined as the Nova Scotia premiere of an original script and New Adaptation is defined as the Nova Scotia premiere of an adaptation of an existing work of any medium.
For the purposes of the Merritt Awards, “Nova Scotian” is defined as a person who was born in Nova Scotia or has resided in Nova Scotia for at least two (2) years.
Theatre Nova Scotia Stage Manager and Technician Merritt Awards recognize outstanding work on professional productions in Nova Scotia in the areas of stage management and technical production. All nomination submission forms for Outstanding Stage Manager and Outstanding Technician Awards can be found online. Nominations are accepted from individual members and Professional Theatre organizations. Nominators should address how a nominee contributed to the success of a production.
Contact Theatre Nova Scotia for any additional questions on The Merritt Awards.
The ArtsNL Arts Awards show and gala honours the accomplishments of Newfoundland and Labrador’s artists. It takes place each spring, alternating locations every second year between St. John’s and various locations throughout the province. Nominations for the Arts Awards are submitted online by the arts community, arts organizations, and the general public. Members of Council vote by secret ballot to select finalists and winners. Six awards are presented annually.
The Rhonda Payne Theatre Award honours the memory of actor, writer and director Rhonda Payne. The award assists women theatre artists in Newfoundland and Labrador who are looking to achieve their goals as actors or writers and comes with a cash award.
The Professional Project Grants Program (PPGP) is available to Individual Professional Artists, Collaborations of Individual Professional Artists, and Professional Arts Groups. This program supports the creation and/or presentation of works of art in the disciplines of dance, film, music, multidisciplinary arts, theatre, visual arts, or writing. Grants support project costs related to creation, production, administration, travel, professional development, etc.
$1,000,000 is awarded annually. $500,000 is available to be awarded across all arts disciplines in each grant session (Information last updated June 9 2020).
Successful applicants will be awarded a minimum of 75% of the funding requested. Applicants can be awarded ONE grant through the PPGP in a 12 month period. For grants and awards apply through their portal.
The Lieutenant-Governor’s Awards for High Achievement in the Arts is a program designed to recognize the outstanding contribution of artists to the arts in New Brunswick. This program was previously called the Excellence Awards Program. More information will be updated on their website here.
The Montreal English Theatre Awards are a set of peer-juried awards established to:
- Recognize and celebrate outstanding artistic work in Montreal’s English Theatre;
- Promote professional and emerging English theatre artists and companies in Montreal, and heighten their visibility, both regionally and beyond;
- Elevate the level of critical discourse about theatre in Montreal, amongst artists and with the community at large.
The METAs are managed by a volunteer committee of active professionals from various theatre disciplines, who oversee the running of the Awards and ensure the METAs' integrity as a project “by the community and for the community”. All productions must submit an application one month prior to their opening night. The METAs were created in 2012, with support from the Quebec Drama Federation, its founding partner. More on eligibility here.
They have three categories to which you can apply:
These awards go to outstanding work in professional English speaking theatre in Montreal and the greater Montreal area.
A separate Community Jury assesses registered community productions. Each Juror must sign a non-disclosure agreement, and votes by mail-in ballot at the end of the season by choosing their top three choices. Scores are tabulated by the METAC.
The METAs currently have two honorary awards: the Unsung Hero of the Theatre (UHOT) Award and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Award. The METAC forms independent ad-hoc committees for each honorary award. These committees study all submitted materials for each nominated individual or company, and choose a recipient by deliberating and then voting secretly. The METAC may choose to inform the honourees before the ceremony to ensure they will be present and to allow them to prepare an acceptance speech.
Les Prix Rideau Awards are theatre awards presented annually by the Rideau Awards committee, which honours the best in professional theatre in the region of Ottawa-Gatineau. The peer-juried awards program was initiated in 2006 as a result of discussion at an open meeting of the regional Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. 2007 was the first year the awards were distributed. In 2009, Les Prix Rideau Awards became fully bilingual, with a full slate of awards being presented for both English and French-language productions.
Performances are attended by teams of juries of local arts professionals (14 English, 8 French jurors in 2009). These juries nominate and vote on the productions by secret ballot with the results tallied by local impartial accountants. The secret ballot system was put in place to promote an honest assessment of the work and to avoid politics, making the awards as impartial as possible. The jurors vote with a first and second choice to negate the "first past the post" voting system.
To apply, use the online portal to fill out your submission. Each production you submit must be accompanied by a $50 application fee which can be paid for online or sent via the mailing address provided (This information was last updated June 9 2020). Here is a link to the online Submission Form. More on how to apply here.
The Windsor Endowment for the Arts (WEA) is a not-for-profit charitable organization run by a volunteer board made up of artists and professionals. Their aim is to support Windsor-Essex artists in Community, Literary, Performing and Visual arts grow and flourish in their fields. Their goals centre on providing artists and arts organizations with financial support, honouring the community’s arts patrons, and funding youth programs.
Four awards are presented to recognize and celebrate outstanding individuals, philanthropists, businesses and/or organizations devoted to the arts in the following areas:
- Community Arts
- Literary Arts
- Performing Arts
- Visual Arts
These awards are given out through a nomination process. To nominate an artist, go to the awards page and fill out an application via their online portal.
There are four grants given out annually:
Emerging Artist Award
Four grants at a value of $3,000 are given out to Emerging Artists in the categories of:
- Community Arts
- Literary Arts
- Performing Arts
- The Lois Smedick Emerging Artist in Visual Arts Grant
(Information last updated June 9 2020)
Four grants at a value of $3,000 are given out to individual professional artists / arts professionals, ad hoc groups, collectives, organizations and businesses dedicated to developing the arts in the categories of:
- Community Arts
- Literary Arts
- Performing Arts
- The Carolyne Rourke Visual Arts Infrastructure Grant
(Information last updated June 9 2020)
The Elizabeth Havelock Grant
This is one grant valued at $2,000 to celebrate the work of an artist in the middle of their career (Information last updated June 9 2020).
Youth Arts Grant
One grant valued at $2,000 is presented to a graduating high school student entering university or college in one of the following programs: literary arts, performing arts, or visual arts (Information last updated June 9 2020).
For Frequently Asked Questions on the awards, grants and nomination process check out WEA’s FAQ page.
The Winnipeg Theatre Awards (The Evies) celebrate, recognize, and acknowledge excellence in the theatre arts by presenting annual awards that reflect the diversity and depth of talent among Winnipeg’s theatre artists in production and performance.
Eligible productions are automatically nominated and posted on the website prior to the award season’s start. At that time, if an eligible production has not yet been listed on the website, please contact the organizing committee at least 45 days prior to the performance. More on eligilibility here.
In addition to the traditional juried award categories, the honorary awards recognize members of the community who have contributed to making the performing arts vibrant and successful.
The Reg Skene Award for Emerging Artists
In addition to the traditional juried award categories, this award is given to an emerging Manitoban actor, director or playwright.
The SATs (Saskatoon and Area Theatre Awards) were created by professional theatre artists based in and around Saskatoon to recognize, encourage and applaud the excellent work that professionals were creating for audiences in a way that matches and fits the uniqueness of the Saskatchewan community.
The SATA Committee does not contact producing theatres to invite/remind them to register their productions for the awards. It is each theatre’s responsibility to fill out the SAT Awards Application Form if the company wishes to have its work assessed by the jury. More on guidelines and eligibility here.
The Henry Woolf Continuing Achievement Award honours an individual or group in the Saskatoon area for outstanding contribution, dedication, and achievement within the theatre community. The recipient(s) will have shown a significant contribution to theatre in Saskatoon and area. This Award may be presented to a member of the community from any background (directors, performers, administrators, stage managers, technicians, patrons, etc). Nominations are invited from the public each year, and the SAT Awards’ Steering Committee chooses the recipient.
For more information you can contact the SAT Awards committee.
The Betty Mitchell Awards, named for a pioneer of Calgary’s theatrical community, Dr. Betty Mitchell, were started in 1998 to celebrate and honour outstanding achievement in Calgary’s professional theatre community. The Betty Mitchell Awards Nominating Committee is an anonymous jury of 12 theatre professionals, from a range of disciplines, who select nominees in 18 award categories from the eligible shows.
Eligible productions must submit an application to The Bettys 28 days prior to production. Eligible productions must be open to the general public and run for at least nine performances over a minimum of two weekends for the nominating committee to see the show. More on eligibility here. You can submit your production via their application page.
There are three adjudicated awards that are presented separately from the 18 balloted awards:
- The Greg Bond Memorial Award - $1000 cash prize for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre in Calgary (Information last updated June 9 2020)
- The Dean Ott/Debbie Boult Award - honouring Outstanding Achievement in Technical Production
- The Duval Lang Theatre for Young Audiences Award - $2000 cash prize presented in conjunction with Quest Theatre, honouring Outstanding Achievement in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences (Information last updated June 9 2020)
In recognition of a unique contribution to the theatre community, the Betty Mitchell Outstanding Achievement Award is also presented, at the discretion of The Betty Mitchell Awards Board.
For additional questions you can contact The Bettys here.
The Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards (also known as the Sterling Awards) are local awards presented annually to honour excellence in theatre. Named after Elizabeth Sterling Haynes, who helped establish and nurture Edmonton professional theatre in the early 20th century, the awards were established in 1987.
If you are independently producing a professional Equity co-op or Fringe show, have a production you would like to be eligible that was not announced as part of a company season, or if you have a season of shows and have never before contacted the Sterling Committee, you must register your production/s using the online form and submit no less than 30 days before opening night. Learn more here.
Each season an administrator who has most embodied the hard work and excellence the professional theatre demands is honoured with the Margaret Mooney Award for Outstanding Achievement in Administration.
The Ross Hill Award for Outstanding Achievement in Production honours an individual in production; technicians, stage managers, educators, heads of wardrobe or electrics or sound: the experts behind the scenes for a body of work exemplifying a career of distinction and accomplishment.
The Jessie Richardson Awards Society is a non-profit charitable organization that exists to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of the Vancouver Professional Theatre community by producing the annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards. The society was formed in 1997, and took over the production of the Awards Ceremony from the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance, who had presented the awards since 1982-83. The Award Year for the Jessies includes productions produced between May 1 and April 30. All producers who register shows between these dates will automatically become members of The Jessie Richardson Awards Society.
Productions must follow the following production criteria to be considered eligible:
Companies: at least 51% of the applicable roles (see below) must be engaged under a professional form of contract (for example: CAEA/UDA/FIA) and be receiving the equivalent to the minimum fee of a CAEA Indie 2.2 contract.
Collectives: all artists must be receiving a share of net box office profits in a production where at least 51% of the applicable artistic and production roles are filled by full members of CAEA/ACTRA/UdA/FIA member unions or other professional artistic associations.
Shows produced by companies with budgets of up to $300,000 will pay $55 +GST for each show they register in the season. Shows produced by companies with budgets of over $300,000 will pay $110 +GST for each show they register in the season (Information last updated June 9 2020). Productions must be registered at least 21 days prior to the first public performance.
The British Columbia Theatre Association/Theatre BC offers a series of scholarships and awards to supporttheatre artists and communities across British Columbia. Theatre BC has served as the parent association for community theatre in the province since 1932, and aims promote and encourage the development of community theatre by providing leadership as well as opportunities for participation, education and sharing in the enjoyment of diverse theatre experiences.
Eric Hamber Award
The Eric Hamber Award is given to a person, group or institution having made an outstanding contribution to community theatre in British Columbia over a long period. Application form here.
As part of Theatre BC’s 75th Anniversary Celebrations, the organization instituted an award to honour a Theatre BC member who in the past year has worked toward furthering the Mission Statement of Theatre BC—"To promote and encourage the development of community theatre in British Columbia by providing leadership and opportunities for participation, education and sharing the enjoyment of diverse theatre experiences." Nomination form here.
The Jessie Richardson & The Sid Williams Memorial Scholarships
Two annual scholarships of $1,000 for young artists pursuing Theatre School (Information last updated June 9 2020). Application form here.
The Mien van Heek Memorial Scholarship
1 annual award of $750.00 to a young artist pursuing an education in stage craft that is technical or design-related. Application form here. (Information last updated June 9 2020).
Mainstage Scholarships for Secondary School Drama Students
Scholarship for high-school students who are interested in pursuing theatre arts in post-secondary education. Application form here.
Many of the awards listed above reflect and celebrate the 'mainsteam' of each region's theatre community. Other awards and means of recognition have developed in response to this perceived mainstream - including the below.
Since 1995, The Harold Awards have come to represent the independent and hardworking spirit of Toronto’s vibrant theatre community – a kind of rabblerousing alternative to the Dora Awards. To be Harolded is an honour of the highest subversive order. The Harold Awards lineage reads like a who’s who of Toronto theatre, beginning with: Luther Hansraj, Kirsten Johnson, Sherrie Johnson, Jacoba Knaapen, Daniel MacIvor, Don McKellar, Darren O’Donnell, Alex Poch-Goldin, Nadia Ross, Lisa Ryder, Sarah Stanley, Deanne Taylor and Paul Bettis. Awardees are nominated into Houses named after these influential artists. There is no application process. Awards are bestowed from one individual to the next in recognition of an outstanding and often under recognized dedication on or off the stage. The annual award ceremony is riddled with giddy secrecy, as those about to be Harolded don’t know it.