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Inaugural Black Shoulders Legacy Award recipients announced


TORONTO, Feb. 16, 2023 – The Black Shoulders Legacy Award steering committee has just announced the 2023 winners of the inaugural Black Shoulders Legacy Award. The first recipients of this award in support for emerging Black Canadian theatre artists are: Robert Ball (Toronto/Stratford), Ghislaine Doté (Vancouver/Montreal), Peter Fernandes (Toronto), Dela Ruth Hini (BC), and Anthony Santiago (Calgary).

Each recipient has been awarded a $5,000 honorarium towards training and other opportunities to enhance and grow their artistic craft.

The Black Shoulders Legacy Award was founded in June 2020, at the end of Philip Akin’s tenure as the Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre. This groundbreaking award was created to safeguard the legacy of support for emerging Black Canadian theatre artists that Philip Akin catalyzed. This is the first award of its kind, solely dedicated to the success of Black Canadian theatre artists, ensuring creators are equipped with the skills to be at the top of their professional game.

“To have a harvest you need to plant. This award is a way for there to be a growing crop of Black artists ready to create the future.” – Philip Akin

This national award will be given to both performing and non-performing artists who show promise and are working towards a future in theatre, further amplifying Black voices in the Canadian theatre landscape. This fund is managed by the Shaw Festival Foundation; Community Advisory Committee members include Philip Akin, Taylor Akin, Quincy Armorer, Shauntay Grant, Kevin Hanchard, Omari Newton, Kimberley Rampersad, Luke Reece, and Tanisha Taitt.

About this year’s inaugural recipients

Robert Ball (Toronto/Stratford)

Robert will be exploring playwriting after a career in performance. “It’s validating in that I am being seen for my artistic merit and aspirations. That I’m being seen for my capability and potential as a creator of art and not only as someone who embodies & performs it.” – Robert Ball

Ghislaine Doté (Vancouver/Montreal)

“This award will allow me to workshop my first bilingual Opera. Recently, I played the role of Florence Price, one of the first African American women composers. I didn’t know who she was before the play. After reading her story, I don’t want to take this award for granted. I don’t have to battle overt racism, segregation, lynching (etc..) as Florence Price did. So I feel the
responsibility to make the best of this opportunity, to make great music, to joyfully delve into the creation process! So, what this award means: an opportunity to do great work and a reminder of whose shoulders we stand on.” – Ghislaine Doté

Peter Fernandes (Toronto)

This Dora Award-winning actor will be pursuing mentorship and training in magic/illusionist work in theatre. “It is incredibly moving to be receiving this award as it means that I have the support of the people who have had a significant effect on my growth as a performer to explore and expand my skills in other theatrical disciplines I am passionate
about. Moving into this next stage of my career, I see my responsibility to the next generation of Black, Filipino, and mixed-race artists and the importance of seeing more BIPOC creators in leadership roles. The award means I can learn to take on another position in creating a supportive space for BIPOC theatre creators, in the same way my past mentors, including Philip Akin, have for me.” – Peter Fernandes

Dela Ruth Hini (Kelowna/UK)

Dela will be pursuing more performance training with an interest in writing, direction and producing. “I currently live in England, where I’m an immigrant twice over. First, I was an immigrant to Canada, where my family had moved from Ghana. Now, I’m an immigrant anew, this time having moved on my own. In both cases the decision to move countries was made
based on a desire for more opportunities and new experiences. It goes without saying that moving countries presents a plethora of financial challenges, and that coupled with pursuing a career in the theatrical and creative arts means that funding not only plays a role in my work, but in the extent to which I can engage meaningfully in creative work without sacrificing basic needs.

“Receiving this award gives me the opportunity to dig deeper into my artistic practice with greater freedom. As well, it means that I get to contribute more boldly to the theatrical and creative landscapes of both Canada and the UK.” – Dela Ruth Hini

Anthony Santiago (Calgary)

Anthony is returning to performance after 20 years away to fine tune his craft.

“This award will allow me to dig deeper into my practice with the support of my community behind me: that in itself means the world to me. I am extremely proud that this award exists and am confident that it will be a great boon to current and future Black theatre practitioners. I look forward to engaging with the myriad ways this evolving journey grows, prospers, and shapes not only our community but the world at large.” – Anthony Santiago

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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