1. Funding
  2. Prizes
  3. Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts
  4. Guidelines: Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts

Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing 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 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts is an annual prize that recognizes the highest level of artistic merit, distinguished career achievement, and outstanding contribution by a Canadian professional artist in music, theatre or dance. The prize is awarded on a 4-year cycle – in dance, theatre, dance and music – and is up to the amount of $50,000. The prize to be awarded in 2022 will be in the field of dance.

Walter Carsen established the endowment fund for the prize in February 2001 through a generous donation of $1.1 million to the Canada Council. The Canada Council administers and promotes the prize.

Deadline – 30 April 2022

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

An individual may receive this award only once in a lifetime.

Notification of results – approximately 5 months after the deadline date

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

Prize amount – $50,000


Eligible nominators

Candidates must be nominated by 1 nominator; either an individual or an organization from the Canadian professional performing arts community.

Eligible candidates

This prize recognizes individual achievement or artistic partnerships. An artistic partnership may include up to 3 individuals who have developed a singular artistic practice. Each artist must meet the eligibility requirements below.

Nominees must:

  • be a professional artist in the performing arts
  • be actively involved in the performing arts in Canada or have spent the majority of their artistic career in Canada
  • have created, as creative and/or interpretive artists, an outstanding and a distinguished body of work in any dance forms or genres over a significant period
  • have work that has been recognized at national and international levels
  • 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.

Ineligible nominees

  • Organizations cannot be nominated
  • Members of the Board of the Canada Council are not eligible during their term and for 6 months following the end of their term.

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 2 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 a given competition.

All peer assessment committee decisions are final.

Assessment criteria

Nominations will be evaluated based on the following weighted criteria:

Artistic merit (50%)

  • the quality of the candidate's work
  • the candidate’s overall career achievements over the course of their career

Impact (40%)

  • the candidate’s contribution to the development and advancement of the practices of dance

Relevance (10%)

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

Required documents – What you need to submit with the nomination

Please refer to the nomination form for detailed instructions.

  • Letter of nomination (2 pages maximum)
  • Curriculum vitae for each nominee
  • Biography for each nominee (1 page maximum)
  • Letters of support (3 maximum)
  • Articles, excerpts of articles, or reviews (10 pages maximum)
  • Digital support material (5 maximum – 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.

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. Once the prize winner has been contacted, they must agree to keep the results of the competition confidential until the Canada Council makes its official announcement.

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 to 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.

Previous winners

Visit the Walter Carsen Prize web page to download a list of past winners.

Instructions – How to submit a nomination

Send your completed nomination form, required documents and support material as 1 email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time) to  waltercarsen-prizes@canadacouncil.ca. The total maximum file size including attachments is 25 MB. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 3 business days, please contact us.

Contact information

Jennifer Cherniack

Program Officer, Prizes


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