The OAF Blog

Awards and Scholarships: The Recipient’s Perspective

July 08, 2013


I am the winner of the Lambton County Music Festival Lady’s Sacred Concert Group.  I would like to thank you for your contribution.  Without donors like you, the prizes for this festival would not be possible.  Samantha


I just wanted to send you a little note to say thanks for the donation to the Festival.  I will be entering college in September and this money will help with my studies.  Melanie


You were so kind in granting me your award, and it helped make my trip to Peterborough to compete at the provincial level possible. I won the Grade 10 vocal award! Lauren


What is the impact of an arts award or scholarship?  As these young winners of the Lambton County Music Festival Hugh D. McKellar Scholarship told us this year, it is immense.


Awards and Scholarships

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as Executive Director of the Ontario Arts Foundation is meeting and hearing from artists who are the recipient of a donor’s arts philanthropy through an award or scholarship.  The honour of knowing that they were selected by a group of their peers, received a financial reward, can add it to their c.v. and use it to continue their professional development as an artist is indescribable.

Donors provide financial support to arts organizations for their ongoing operations and arts programs.  But they may also be looking for a more permanent way to support an arts discipline they have a passion for.   Awards and scholarships can play an important role in arts philanthropy.

 The advantages of creating an award or scholarship are many.

  • Awards provide financial support to an individual artist at various stages of their career development.


  • Scholarships are highly important to students and emerging artists for continuing education or professional training.


  • Awards are both recognition of success or achievement in a discipline and create opportunities for continuing professional development.


Through awards and scholarships, donors can receive long term recognition and provide a legacy that recognizes their personal passion for the arts. Knowing that their philanthropy will be enduring can be a big plus.


The Recipient's Perspective

Christina Petrowska Quilico is a classically trained and accomplished pianist. In a recent interview with me she comments on how big a role awards and scholarships played in her development as one of Canada’s best known classical pianists.


I started piano lessons as a child at the Royal Conservatory, and was accepted into a program at Juilliard at age 14. During my career, I’ve received Canada Council grants and doctoral fellowships. Awards and scholarships provided financial resources that really helped me, that allowed me to live and study in New York. As a young artist, you simply don’t have the financial resources to support lessons, coaching sessions or auditions.


 In 2000, Christina established the Christina and Louis Quilico Award at the Ontario Arts Foundation to honour her late husband, renowned baritone Louis Quilico, and to recognize the next generation of outstanding young singers, pianists and composers for voice.

Art photographer Larry Towell, recipient of the 2010 $50,000 Paul deHueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award for Art Photography, told me he was sitting in his kitchen trying to figure out how to finance a trip to the Middle East to photograph people in a war zone. And then I called to tell him he was the recipient of a $50,000 award! This meant so much to him. He could now afford to go forward with his plans.


Awards for a Specific Purpose

Awards can be directed for a specific purpose, for instance career development.   The Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design was established in 2006 by the late Dr. Virginia S. Cooper of Toronto.  This annual award is intended to enrich the careers of professional mid-career Canadian costume designers in Ontario through research and travel. Lea Carlsen, the 2011 winner of the Award, said that the $15,000 prize money would allow her to travel to Paris to study historical costumes, and then travel to Baffin Island to undertake a project to learn design techniques used by Inuit artists.  Both will deepen her knowledge and work in costume design.

 In some cases, artists may apply the prize money very simply, for instance to buy more paint to continue their work.  Others may really need  to undertake much needed repairs to a home studio.  As a bonus, under Canada’s income tax laws, awards are exempt from income tax, and therefore bring even more financial reward to artists. (Scholarships are fully taxable.)

In every case, I have been warmed by the deep appreciation shown by these artists for  being recognized by their peers and rewarded for their talents.  They are forever grateful that a donor has thought to fund an award.  I wish all donors could be present to hear the stories and positive outcomes from this form of philanthropy!



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