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February 24, 2003

TORONTO – The organizers of the Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre today announced the Jury for its $100,000 prize, Canada’s largest arts award. Highly regarded theatre professional Leonard McHardy has been named Chair of the jury which, in this third year of the award, will select a Canadian designer who has “made a significant contribution to theatre in Canada.” Mr. McHardy, former Director of Communications at the Stratford Festival, is co-founder of Toronto’s TheatreBooks, Canada’s premier performing arts bookstore.

Tony Comper, Chairman and CEO of BMO Financial Group, the title sponsor of the Siminovitch Prize, applauded the choice of Mr. McHardy. “Leonard contributed significantly to the Jury last year, and we are delighted he will be back to chair the panel this year.”

After consultation with members of the theatre community across Canada, Mr. McHardy has assembled the following distinguished jury:

Martine Beaulne – one of Quebec’s most respected directors and actors, who is equally at home performing in or directing new work in smaller venues as in directing the classics in Quebec’s venerable institutions. She has had extensive experience teaching theatre and is currently a professor at the École supérieure de théâtre, University of Quebec at Montréal (UQAM).

Denise Clarke – an Associate Artist for 15 years with Calgary’s internationally acclaimed One Yellow Rabbit theatre company, Denise also works extensively with various opera, dance and theatre companies across Canada and internationally.

Michael Eagan – New Brunswick-born and -educated, Michael has designed sets and costumes for the past 30 years for theatres across Canada, including the Shaw and Stratford Festivals. He has taught at the University of Toronto; was Director of the Scenography Section at the National Theatre School, and recently designed the stage of the new Studio Theatre at the Stratford Festival.

Dr. Natalie Rewa – Currently Associate Professor at the Department of Drama and Institute for Women’s Studies at Queen’s University, Dr. Rewa is a recognized authority on theatre design in Canada, having written numerous articles on design and designers for journals in Canada and abroad, and contributed to books on design and the role of women in Canadian theatre. Her new book, Scenography in Canada: Selected Designers, will be published by University of Toronto Press this summer.

The Jury will receive nominations of Canadian designers (set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, and sound designers) in mid career “who have made a significant creative contribution to no fewer than three noteworthy theatre projects in Canada in the past 10 years.” A mid-career professional artist is defined as one who is at a point in his or her career where the recognition and resources associated with the prize will make a significant difference, allowing and encouraging the artist to go further in the pursuit of his or her craft.

“Whether he or she has reached that point,” explained Mr. McHardy, “derives from a sense that the exceptional quality of the artist’s work has made its mark within a relatively recent period of time; and that by virtue of its impact on audiences and fellow artists now, is moving Canadian theatre forward.”

Anyone can submit a nomination for the prize. Nomination forms are available online The deadline for nominations is May 30, and the prize will be awarded in October.

Saluting the creation of the Siminovitch Prize, Sherri Helwig, Executive Director of the Associated Designers of Canada (the national professional association of performing arts designers), thanked the Prize Founders and BMO Financial Group for having recognized “the invaluable contribution” that designers of sets, costumes, lighting and sound have made to Canada’s visual and aural culture. “As a significant acknowledgement of those whose work is often unacknowledged,” said Ms. Helwig, “this year’s Siminovitch Prize reinforces the ideals of excellence and mentorship that are important to designers, and ensures that theatrical design – normally a ‘behind the scenes’ artistic pursuit – will instead be ‘front and centre.'”

The prize was introduced in 2001 and dedicated to renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. “The prize celebrates Elinore and Lou’s shared passion for excellence and their lifelong encouragement of others,” said Mr. Comper. “The ideals of excellence and mentorship are ones that we at BMO Financial Group value highly.”

The prize is awarded in alternate years to designers, playwrights and directors. The winner receives $100,000, of which $25,000 is awarded to a protégé or organization of the winner’s choice. Last year, the prize was presented to a playwright, Carole Fréchette – described by last year’s Jury Chair, Bill Glassco, as an artist “at the height of her powers, with the wind full in her sails” – and to Ms. Fréchette’s protégé, Geneviève Billette.

For further information:
Brian Smith, Tel. (416) 867-4673

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