1. Funding
  2. Prizes
  3. Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts
  4. Guidelines: Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts

Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts


The Canada Council is committed to equity and inclusion, and encourages applications and nominations from culturally diverse, Deaf, disability and official language minority artists, groups and organizations. The Canada Council recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Indigenous peoples of this land and encourages applications and nominations from First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, groups, and organizations in all its programs. Measures are in place in all programs to support these commitments.

The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts (GGArts) are Canada’s foremost distinctions for excellence in visual and media arts. The awards were created in 1999 by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Governor General of Canada. Since then, the awards have celebrated Canada’s vibrant arts community and recognized remarkable careers in the visual and media arts. The Canada Council funds and administers the awards.

Up to 8 awards are given annually:

  • 6 awards for distinguished Artistic Achievement in the visual (including architecture) and/or media arts
  • 1 Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in the fine crafts
  • 1 award to recognize the outstanding contribution to the visual arts (including architecture), media arts or to fine craft of an individual or group in a volunteer or professional capacity, through philanthropy, board governance, community outreach activities, or as a director of an organization, curator, programmer, educator, critic or dealer/distributor.

The Saidye Bronfman Award is Canada’s foremost distinction for excellence in fine crafts. Created in 1977 by the Bronfman family to honour their mother on her 80th birthday, the prize is awarded annually to an exceptional fine craft artist. As a result of a $1.5 million donation to the Canada Council from The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, the Saidye Bronfman Award became a Governor General’s Award, reserved for fine craft artists as of March 2007. The name “Saidye Bronfman Award” is retained under the overall banner of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Works by the Saidye Bronfman winners are acquired by the Canadian Museum of History for its permanent collection.

The Canada Council recognizes the continued commitment and support from the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General for this award.

Deadline – 1 June 2021

Your completed nomination form and supporting documents must be submitted by email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time). The Canada Council will not assess late or incomplete nominations.

Nomination limits

Individuals may only receive 1 award in a lifetime from each of the GGArts categories.

Notification of results – approximately 5 months after the deadline date

All nominators and winners will be notified in writing. Except for the notification of the prize winners, the Canada Council does not contact nominees.

Prize amounts – up to 8 awards of $25,000 each


Eligible nominators (for all categories):

  • may be an individual, co-nominators (up to 3 people who meet the criteria), or a representative of an organization
  • must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They do not need to be living in Canada
  • do not have to be from the province, territory or the field of practice of the nominee.

A nominator must be a recognized Canadian specialist in the visual or media arts or fine craft, such as:

  • an arts professional (current or former) from a Canadian museum, public gallery, cinematheque or artist-run centre that engages with contemporary Canadian art
  • a representative from a professional association of artists or national service organization
  • the dean, chair or professor at a Canadian university or art college
  • a Canadian private art dealer
  • an art critic or curator
  • a professional artist.


  • Nominators may submit 1 nomination per category.
  • Nominees may only be nominated in 1 category per year.
  • Candidates may not self-nominate.
  • Canada Council board members are not eligible during their term as members and for 6 months following the end of their term.

Eligible candidates

All nominees must:

  • be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They do not need to be living in Canada when their nomination is submitted.
  • be living as of the nomination deadline date.

Artistic Achievement and Saidye Bronfman Awards

These awards are intended to honour individual achievement rather than the work of an organization, but it may also recognize artistic partnerships or small collectives in which each artist meets the eligibility requirements for the prize.

Nominees must be professional artists who:

  • have maintained a practice in their field over a significant period of time
  • have received national and/or international recognition
  • have made a substantial contribution to both the historical development and contemporary practice of their field in Canada
  • have created an outstanding and distinguished body of work in 1 of the following categories:
Artistic Achievement, visual arts
  • painting, drawing, photography, printmaking
  • sculpture, installation, and performance
  • architecture
Artistic Achievement, media arts
  • independent film and video
  • new media
  • audio
Saidye Bronfman Award
  • Book binding
  • Glass, ceramic, gold or silver jewellery
  • Furniture
  • Textile, beading
Ineligible applicants
  • Fine craft* artists are not eligible for the Artistic Achievement Award. They may only be nominated for the Saidye Bronfman Award or the Outstanding Contribution Award.
  • Professionals working in the field of design, including graphic, industrial or fashion design, are not eligible.

*Fine Craft is the term used to define an area of activity in the crafts that is frequently directed towards exhibition and/or sale in a gallery-like setting. This activity involves high levels of technical expertise as well as knowledge of the historical tradition and development of the craft. Through their work, fine craft practitioners demonstrate new concepts and innovations that expand the boundaries of their medium and its techniques.

Outstanding Contribution Award

An individual or a group of individuals may be nominated for this award. Nominees must have made an outstanding contribution to contemporary Canadian art in visual arts (including architecture), media arts or fine craft, in a volunteer or professional capacity, through 1 or more of the following activities or roles:

  • philanthropy
  • board governance
  • community outreach, audience development and/or arts education activities in a visual or media arts or fine craft organization
  • the director of a visual or media arts or fine craft organization
  • a curator, program director or writer
  • an educator
  • a contemporary art dealer or distributor.

Application/Nomination Assistance

Application/Nomination Assistance contributes to costs for services to help with a prize application or nomination for individuals who self-identify as: 

  • Deaf, hard of hearing, having a disability or living with a mental illness
  • First Nations, Inuit or Métis facing language, geographic and/or cultural barriers.

To submit a request, contact the prizes officer 4 weeks prior to the deadline.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

Peer evaluation is fundamental to the Canada Council’s decision-making process. A peer assessment committee, will assess the eligible nominations. The committee will be composed of experienced professionals selected for their expertise in their field of practice. Committee members will also be selected with consideration to fair representation of artistic specializations, Canada’s two official languages, First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, Deaf and disability communities, gender, age and the cultural and regional diversity of Canada.

The peer assessment committee may decide not to award the prize in any one of the categories in a given competition.

All peer assessment committee recommendations are final.

Assessment criteria

Nominations will be evaluated based on the following weighted criteria:

Artistic Achievement and Saidye Bronfman Awards

Artistic merit (50%)

  • the artistic quality of the candidate’s work over a significant period of time
  • the candidate’s overall career achievements including national and/or international recognition

Impact (40%)

  • the candidate’s contribution to the historical development and advancement of the contemporary practices of visual arts, media arts or fine craft in Canada

Relevance (10%)

  • the candidate’s contributions towards a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society.

Outstanding Contribution Award

Impact (50%)

  • the impact and extent of the candidate’s significant contribution to contemporary visual or media arts or fine craft over an extended period

Merit (40%)

  • the quality of the candidate’s contribution to contemporary visual or media arts or fine craft over an extended period

Relevance (10%)

  • the candidate’s contributions towards a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society.

Required documents – What you need to submit with the nomination

  • Nomination statement
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Digital support material (images, audio-visual, text, as applicable)

Nomination preparation

  • The nominator is responsible for providing all the information and support material requested.
  • The Canada Council will make eligibility decisions based on the information provided in the nomination.
  • Submit only the material requested. Extra material will not be shown to the peer assessment committee.
  • Carefully choose your support material as committee members have limited time in which to review each nomination.
  • In addition to filling out your contact information in the nomination form, please ensure that the information is up to date on the Canada Council’s portal, if you have an account.


  • Nominators may nominate only 1 individual per category
  • Nominees may only be nominated in 1 of the 3 categories per year.
  • A nominator may use the same nomination package for up to 3 consecutive deadlines.
  • Instructions on how to resubmit a nomination will be provided in the result letters.

Personal information

Personal information collected in this nomination shall be used for purposes related to the program, service or activity of the Canada Council.

The Canada Council may share personal information from applications and nominations for awards with officials in other arts and cultural industry funding agencies and government institutions on a confidential basis. Shared information is limited to your name, contact information and field of practice and is provided to assist with research, reporting, program planning and evaluation, to present networking or economic opportunities, or to respond to federal reviews. For more information on how your personal information is protected, see our Privacy Notice.

Prize terms and conditions

If successful, the terms and conditions will be outlined in a notification letter to both the winners and the nominators. Winners and nominators must keep the results confidential until the date of the public announcement and agree that the nomination package be used for promotion purposes.

Prize payment

Winners cannot receive the prize money until all overdue final reports for Canada Council grants and prizes have been submitted and approved. No posthumous awards will be given.

Participation in promotional activities

The winners must agree to allow their photographs and public information be used for promotion of the prize and in other Canada Council promotional initiatives. They must also agree to participate fully in all prize-related activities. Winners are requested to advise the Canada Council if they intend to mount an exhibition, if applicable, as a result of the award.


If the winner owns the copyright and distribution rights to their work, they agree to the use of reproductions or excerpts of their work in all Canada Council collateral material, such as on the Canada Council and partner websites, at associated venues, on social media channels, in the commissioned video portraits, and for distribution for media and promotional purposes. Winners will receive a flat fee of $300 for use of this material. If the winner does not own the copyright and/or distribution rights to their work, they must provide the appropriate contact information to the Canada Council, and compensation will be provided directly to the specified third party.

Previous winners

Visit the GGArts web page to download a list of past winners.

Instructions – How to submit a nomination

Send your completed nomination as 1 email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time) to  ggarts@canadacouncil.ca. The total maximum file size including attachments is 25 MB. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 48 hours, please contact us.

Contact information

Jennifer Cherniack

Program Officer, Prizes


1-800-263-5588 (toll-free) or 613-566-4414, ext. 5265