Arts Awards

Arts Award Logo

The Richmond Hill Arts Awards profile cultural success stories by recognizing artistic talent and community contribution to the arts sector in Richmond Hill. Artists in any discipline including performing (theatre, dance, music), visual, literary, and media arts, textile, craft, and community arts may be nominated.

Congratulations to the 2020 Arts Awards Winners!

2020 Award Winners

Youth Arts Award Winner – Jackie Han

 Headshot of Jackie Han

Jackie Han is a Grade 11 high-school student with a passion for origami and community building. Jackie has been teaching himself origami for the past 10 years. Through his long-term efforts, he has achieved outstanding skills in the field of Origami Art. Now, he continues to focus on complex origami work and is looking for high-level challenges in improving his origami skills. His passion led him to found Origami Canada. This innovative not-for-profit organization is a free mobile origami teaching station, which is dedicated to promoting the art of origami to everyone in various areas throughout Richmond Hill. Jackie and his squad members have setup and hosted many free origami workshops with the purpose of enriching the cultural life of residents; some examples include: RH Winter Carnival, Ontario Culture Days, etc. To date, the Origami Canada team has extensively participated and organized about 50-60 workshops and taught over 8,500 people! 

Emerging Arts Award Winner – Dr. Jessica Tse

 Headshot of Jessica Tse

Clarinetist Dr. Jessica Tse is the second person to graduate with Doctor of Musical Arts degree in clarinet performance from the University of Toronto. She has been praised for her “fine musicianship” (Thornhill Chamber Music Institute). Additionally, Dr. Tse is an active concert promoter through the York Region Chamber Music. With the goal to use music as a way to connect people, she has organized concerts with innovative programming, such as what was thought to be the first fortepiano recital in the GTA, the music of rising Canadian composers, cross-genre music, children’s programming, charity fundraisers, etc. She advocates for the importance of live music and the need to break down barriers to quality music. Currently, Dr. Tse teaches students privately in Richmond Hill. When she is not immersed in the world of music, you may find her at the public library working in Youth Services.

Mid-Career / Professional Arts Award Winner – Joan Burrows

Headshot Joanne Burrows

Joan Burrows is a Canadian playwright and a longtime resident of Richmond Hill. She has written eight original plays in the past fifteen years. As a Dramatic Arts teacher, Joan found great support and inspiration from The Curtain Club. She has stage managed over 30 productions, while mentoring new talent along the way. As a result of her years of experience producing and directing, Joan created Staff Room in 2003. In 2004, The Curtain Club produced this original work as part of its 50th Season and Staff Room went on to win the Best Production award at both the ACT-CO (Association of Community Theatre – Central Ontario) level and at the annual Theatre Ontario Festival. Her other writing credits also include: The Photograph, (ACT-CO Award for Best New Canadian Play), Gloria's Guy, and Willow Quartet, which was transformed into a musical version, Willow Quartet Musical, and nominated for the Tom Hendry Award in 2018.

Culture Builder Award Winner – Ben Lee

Headshot of Ben Lee

For over twenty years, Ben Lee is a longtime resident in Richmond Hill. He was born in an artistic family, with his father being Walter Byng Lee, an alumnus of OCAD in 1930. In his youth, Ben went on to further his study at the Vancouver School of Fine Arts. Although he did not pursue art as a career, he did apply his artistic knowledge in his own business and became a successful entrepreneur. In 2007, Ben published a book of his artworks entitled Wonders of Watercolour, The Art of Ben Lee. Two years later, Ben founded the Dynasty Watercolour Association (DWA), a non-profit art organization that aims to enrich members’ experience by providing a platform for them to participate and share in various art activities. DWA also offers opportunities for artists who are new to the country and those visiting to share their international experience. In his retirement, Ben has joined the Richmond Hill Group of Artist (RHGA), Toronto Watercolour Society (TWS), and the Bayview Watercolour Society (BWS).


Mid-career or Established Artist 
This award recognizes artistic excellence and accomplishment of a mid-career or established artist. A mid-career or established artist is someone who has developed skills through training and/or practice, and that has developed an extensive body or work. They should be able to demonstrate a history of regional, national or international public presentation of their work and be actively practicing their art. Breaks in artistic work history are permitted. The winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000. 
Emerging Artist
This award recognizes the achievements and talent of an emerging artist. An emerging artist is someone who is at the beginning of their career and who demonstrates commitment to the achievement of a professional level in their discipline. An emerging artist is someone who is developing their skills through education, apprenticeship, training or mentorship. The nominee should be producing a growing repertoire or body of work. Some history of public presentation or publication is preferred. The winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000. 
Youth Artist
This award recognizes the talent of youth in Richmond Hill ages 13-19 at the time of application who have demonstrated outstanding promise and commitment to the arts. The winner will receive a cash prize of $500. 
Culture Builder Award

This award recognizes an individual or collective whose leadership, creative originality and innovation has significantly contributed to the growth of the Richmond Hill arts community over the past year. This can be through the development and support of an arts organization or local program. The winner will receive $500 to direct to a Richmond Hill-based not-for-profit arts organization of their choice to foster continued artistic development in Richmond Hill.

Award Criteria

General eligibility 
  • Nominees must be a Richmond Hill resident.
  • Nominees may only be nominated for one award per year.
  • Nominees who have previously won a Richmond Hill Arts Award are not eligible to be nominated again in their same category.
  • Full-time Richmond Hill staff cannot be nominated.
Artist Award eligibility (mid-career or established, emerging and youth)
  • Artists in any discipline including performing (theatre, dance, music), visual, literary, and media arts, textile, craft, and community arts may be nominated.
  • Nominees must be a Richmond Hill resident. 
  • Nominees must be an individual artist - collectives, bands, groups are not eligible.
  • Youth Artist nominees must be between the ages of 13-19.
Culture Builder Award eligibility
  • Nominees can be an individual or collective
  • Nominees must be an individual living in Richmond Hill.
  • Not-for-profit organizations are not eligible for this award.
Who can nominate
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Nominees cannot self-nominate
  • Cannot be City of Richmond Hill staff, elected officials of the City of Richmond Hill
How to nominate 

Nominators must submit:

  1. Nomination Form
  2. Biography (min 750 - max 1,000 words) including:
    • A brief outline of accomplishments of the nominee
    • Information on the nominee's leadership skills, character, and contributions to culture in the community.
    • A list awards or recognition relevant to the nomination
    • A list of published works and/or public presentations, including exhibitions or performances
  3. One letter of support written by an individual involved with the artist's career.
  4. High resolution digital headshot of the nominee
  5. A sample of the nominees work (please do not send originals)
  6. Please attach copies of articles, photographs, awards, testimonials, website links, artist's social media pages, etc., concerning the nominee that will support the artist’s accomplishments or their contribution to the Richmond Hill arts community.

Submit your completed nomination package now via the Arts Awards Online Submission Form.

Past Arts Award Winners


Mid Career/Established Artist Award: Ona Kingdon, Visual Artist

Emerging Artist Award: Talia Eylon, Film and Digital Media Artist

Youth Artist Award: Freya Abbas, Literary Artist

Mid Career/Established Artist Award: Andrea End, Visual Artist

Emerging Artist Award: Shona Foster, Filmmaker

Youth Artist Award: Julia Zoloto, Media Artist