The Mayor's Arts Awards is an annual recognition program that celebrates high artistic achievement and recognizes extraordinary contributions in and to the arts. By increasing the profile and appreciation of the arts, the Awards enhance the cultural vitality and civic identity of Kingston. Through this program, the City affirms the value of the arts in City life, and nurtures and inspires sustained development of the cultural sector to the benefit of all its citizens.


  • To recognize the achievements and contributions of individual artists and arts organizations to the cultural vitality of Kingston, and in doing so, inspire and encourage others.
  • To recognize and nurture the outstanding and sustained contributions of members of the community as supporters and volunteers in the arts.
  • To build the profile of the arts community across the City, increasing awareness of the arts among its citizens, and thus building audiences and other forms of participation.
  • To increase Kingston's profile as a place where creative life is valued and innovation is embraced, an attractive destination for visitors, residents and businesses.

Award Categories

The Mayor's Arts Awards recognizes three categories of contribution.

Creator Award

The Creator Award recognizes living artists, artistic collectives, or arts organizations. Three Creator Awards will be given each year to honour artistic merit and/or innovation that advances the arts in the City, contributes to the development of the art form and expresses the cultural vitality of Kingston.

Arts Champion Award

The Arts Champion Award recognizes a living individual, organization or corporation who makes an extraordinary, leading contribution to the arts in Kingston as a volunteer, advocate, supporter, sponsor and/or philanthropist.

Limestone Arts Legacy Award

The Limestone Arts Legacy Award recognizes individuals of the past whose sustained and substantial contributions have built the artistic vitality of the City, nurturing and enabling forms of creation, participation, presentation and enjoyment, whose leadership has inspired others, and whose influence has been felt in the region and beyond.

Nominations Process

The nomination of award recipients is facilitated through the City of Kingston Arts Advisory Committee (AAC) that establishes a Nominations Working Group (NWG) each year for this purpose. It is the responsibility of the Nominations Working Group to identify award recipients according to the program criteria set out in the Terms of Reference for the Mayor's Arts Awards.

The Nominations Working Group is itself comprised of five to seven members who represent a range of interests, experience and perspectives and who are also respected and knowledgeable with regard to the arts in Kingston.  The members of the 2017 Mayor's Arts Award Nominations Working Group were appointed by Council and include Councillor Jim Neill along with Barbara Bell, Bob Brooks and Jane Karges from the Arts Advisory Committee as well as community members Jan Allen, Georgina Riel and Pierre-Luc Landry.


2018 Winners

Creator Award winners

Onagottay Blanchard – Artist whose work spans from traditional media, such as birchbark, horn, leather, and beadwork to canvas-based acrylics and large public works. Having studied under the world-renowned Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau and engaged in Midewiwin training as a medicine person, his work is informed by authentic Anishinaabe intellectual tradition and is emblematic of woodlands art, which spans centuries.



Erin Ball – Kingston-based circus artist whose disciplines include aerial silks and trapeze, wheelchair acrobatics, aerial wheelchair, aerial hoop, partner acrobatics, hand balancing and hooping. In 2014, Erin faced life changing events that resulted in the loss of her lower legs. Since returning to her passion of performing, training and coaching, Erin uses her perspective and experiences to tell stories, inspire others, and explore the possibilities of movement. Today, Erin is the owner of Kingston Circus Arts where she teaches circus arts to all bodies, shapes, sizes, ages and situations.



Clarke Mackey – Kingston-based director, cinematographer, editor, producer, and writer whose work spans feature films, experimental video works, and documentaries. Clarke shared his talents with innumerable students during his 30 year career at Queen's University and has been engaged more recently in community activism in Eastern Ontario, producing micro-budget documentaries on subjects such as the closing of the prison farm in Kingston. Clarke is an active member of the local community and sits on numerous arts boards.



Arts Champion Award winner

Karen Peperkorn – Described as an artist whose medium is teaching and whose students are her art work. She is a high school teacher who has shaped the lives of students through arts education in Kingston. In 1990, Karen founded the Creative Arts Focus program at QECVI, which provides students interested in Fine Art and Design with training in media, techniques, community participation and a uniquely collaborative education experience. Karen has devoted her life to sharing the power and potential of the arts and finding innovative ways to support the artistic pursuits of young people.



Limestone Arts Legacy Award winner

Kim Renders – One of Canada's most daring theatrical practitioners, highly respected as an actor, director, writer, and professor. Kim co-founded the Nightwood Theatre Company in Toronto in 1978, was the Artistic Director of Theatre Kingston from 2007 – 2011 and co-founded the Kingston-based Chipped Off Performance Collective in 2013 that created and produced community artistic presentations from a queer and feminist perspective. A theatre pioneer, Kim used art for activism and gave a voice to the marginalized.


2017 Winners

Creator Award winners

Arts Champion Award winner

Limestone Arts Legacy Award winner


Mayor's Arts Awards