William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life

The William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life is presented biennially at the Mayor's Art Lunch.

The William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life is a $5,000 cash prize presented to an individual performer, teacher, administrator or creator in any arts discipline, including architecture and design, whose work is a celebration of life through the arts in Toronto. Established in 1996, this award is funded through an endowment made possible by private donors who wished to celebrate and remember the life of William Kilbourn who died in 1995. Kilbourn was a writer and teacher who spent seven years as a member of Toronto City Council, and served as Toronto Arts Council president from 1982 to 1984.

The William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto's Cultural Life will next be presented in 2018.


William Kilbourn Award


    Philip Akin has been acting and directing for over 30 years. In 2000, he was a founding member of Obsidian Theatre, Canada's leading black theatre company, and has served as artistic director since 2006. He has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities and guidance for emerging artists.


    Jini Stolk is Creative Trust Research Fellow at the Toronto Arts Foundation and has led Creative Trust, Toronto Dance Theatre, Toronto Theatre Alliance, and Open Studio. She chairs the Ontario Nonprofit Network and is a Centre for Social Innovation board member; she was previously on the Toronto Arts Council board, and chaired the Artscape, Hum dansoundart and Six Stages Theatre Festival boards.


    After moving to Toronto in 1967, she worked with both Bill Glassco and Urjo Kareda. By 1982, Gilbert was at the heart of Tarragon Theatre which became one of the most important producers of Canadian plays in the country. Gilbert participated in the founding of PACT, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre. In 2004, she co-founded the Creative Trusts for Arts and Culture, a body that provides endowments and working capitol to small and medium-sized arts companies.


    Thomas Hendry is a Manitoba native whose principal medium is drawing specifically the human form. He has worked extensively in a wide range of drawing media, especially charcoal, graphite, and ink, on surfaces including western papers, Japanese papers and mylar. His interest in human form mainly comes from the deeper consideration of the physical, psychological, and spiritual depths implicit in human beings and the act of representing them. Hendry is also active as an art educator.


    Port Hope, Ontario native, Albert Schultz was drawn to acting through his mother’s community theatre work. He trained at York University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before joining the Stratford Festival Young Company. Schultz has a variety of film and television works under his belt. He is the Founding Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company and General Director of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. He also leads the Soulpepper Academy and the company’s youth outreach and access initiatives.


    Djanet Sears is Canadian playwright, actor and director. She was born in England to a Guyanese father and Jamaican mother. She was raised in England as well as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her play Harlem Duet has won her many awards including four Dora Mavor Moore Awards and a Governor General’s Award for Drama. In addition to writing, Sears also acts in theatre and film productions. She founded Obsidian Theatre in Toronto, a company that specializes in African and Caribbean Canadian drama.

  • JOY HUGHES, 2002 Recipient 

  • RINA SINGHA, 2000 Recipient 

    Rina Singha was born in Calcutta and is most commonly known for being a Kathak dancer. In 1970 she designed and taught a world dance course at York University and developed Heritage Canada, one of the first multicultural programs for the Toronto public school system. In 1990, she collaborated with the Music Gallery in Toronto to create the ‘Legacies in Dance Festival’ which showcases non-Western dance. She also founded the Kathak Institute as well as the Rina Singha Dance Organization to bring awareness to kathak dance. She is a noted ethnologist and choreographer around the world.

  • DORIS McCARTHY, 1998 Recipient 

    Calgary, Alberta native, McCarthy is best knows for her depictions of Arctic Icebergs in Canada. McCarthy’s work has been exhibited and collected extensively in Canada and abroad, in both public and private art galleries and is the recipient for a number of awards across Canada and the globe. Doris McCarthy died on November 25 2010 and is still remembered as a major contributor to Canadian art.