1. Funding
  2. Prizes
  3. York Wilson Endowment Award
  4. Guidelines: York Wilson Endowment Award

York Wilson Endowment Award


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 York Wilson Endowment Award enables Canadian non-profit art museums and public art galleries to purchase original works by living, contemporary Canadian painters and sculptors. This award of up to $30,000 is given, to an eligible Canadian organization to purchase an original artwork, or a series of artworks by the same artist, which would significantly enhance its collection of contemporary Canadian art.

The award is drawn from the investment returns of the York Wilson Endowment. This endowment was established at the Canada Council in 1997 through a generous donation by the late Lela Wilson and the late Maxwell Henderson to honour the contribution of Canadian painter York Wilson (1907-1984). The award encourages and promotes works of art created by Canadian painters or sculptors.

Deadline – 30 April 2021

Your completed application form 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 applications.

Application limits – you can apply once per year

You can only submit 1 application per deadline.

Notification of results – approximately 4 months after the deadline date

Prize amount – up to $30,000

Priority will be given to applications that are eligible for the full amount.

The exact amount is determined by the purchase cost of the artwork(s), in cases where the works are valued at less than this maximum award. For works valued at more than this amount:

  • the award serves as a contribution toward the cost of the purchase
  • the applicant must have secured the additional funding from other sources before applying.

Eligibility – Who can apply?

To be eligible, your organization must:

  • be a Canadian non-profit art museum, public art gallery, or university art gallery
  • have professional curatorial staff
  • have demonstrated a commitment to collecting, displaying and maintaining a contemporary Canadian art collection for a minimum of 5 years
  • exhibit the newly purchased work(s) within 2 years of acquisition
  • ensure that the artist will receive either:
    • full payment
    • a minimum of 50% of the acquisition costs (if purchased through a Canadian dealer).

Ineligible applicants

  • Ethnology museums and museums of natural history and culture are not eligible.

Activities – What can I apply for?

You can apply for artworks:

  • in the field of painting and sculpture
  • purchased directly from the artist
  • purchased from a Canadian art dealer with whom the artist has placed the works on consignment.

Ineligible artworks

  • Works in fields other than painting and sculpture.
  • Works purchased from a private or public collection, an auction house or a non-Canadian dealer.
  • Works by an artist deceased as of the date of the application deadline.
  • Works acquired before the announcement of the competition results.

Ineligible expenses

Sales taxes, shipping, framing and crating expenses or costs incurred by the applicant organization’s acquisitions committee are not eligible.

You can’t apply for activities that occur before your project start date, those that receive funding from another Canada Council program or those on the general list of ineligible activities.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

Peer evaluation is fundamental to the Canada Council’s decision-making process. A peer assessment committee, composed of experienced professionals selected by the Canada Council for their expertise in their field of practice, will assess the eligible applications. 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 recommendations are final.

Assessment criteria

Your application will be evaluated based the following weighted criteria:

Merit (40%)

  • The quality of the work to be acquired

Relevance (30%)

  • The work’s alignment with the organization’s mandate, permanent collection and curatorial vision
  • Your organization's plan to exhibit the newly purchased work(s) within 2 years of acquisition
  • Your organization’s contributions towards a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society

Impact (20%)

  • The potential to:
    • advance the artistic practice of the artist
    • build public interest in and knowledge of contemporary painting and sculpture in Canada

Feasibility (10%)

  • Your organization’s capacity to:
    • demonstrate a comprehensive acquisition policy that supports contemporary Canadian art
    • adhere to museological standards.

Required information and support material – What you need to apply

  • Profile of organization
  • Justification for acquisition and information about the artwork
  • Artist’s curriculum vitae
  • Current acquisition policy
  • Listing of contemporary Canadian artworks acquired in the last 5 years
  • Digital Images

Application preparation

  • The Canada Council will make decisions about your eligibility based on the information you provide.
  • You are responsible for providing all the information and support material requested.
  • 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 application.
  • It is important to inform the Canada Council of any changes to your contact details.If you have an account in the Canada Council’s portal, please update changes directly through your account.

Personal information

Personal information collected in this application shall be used for purposes related directly 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, field of practice and project description, 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 your application is successful, the terms and conditions will be outlined in a notification letter.

Prize payment

The Canada Council will send you the prize money after it has received your acknowledgement form. Winners cannot receive the prize money until all overdue final reports for Canada Council grants and prizes have been submitted and approved.

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.

Acknowledgement of Canada Council support

You must acknowledge the support of the York Wilson Endowment, as administered by Canada Council for the Arts in your catalogue holdings and all promotional material associated with the prize. Details will be included in your notification letter.

Acquisition report

You will be required to submit an Acquisition Report within 2 months of the acquisition of the work, which will be included in your notification letter.

Previous winners

Visit the York Wilson Endowment Award web page to download a list of past winners.

Instructions – How to submit an application

Send your completed application as 1 email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time).  yorkwilson-prizes@canadacouncil.ca. The 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