Presented with support from

Past Winners

VALA 2019 winner Patty Gail Peaker, surrounded by [l-r] Julia Howell of the Toronto Foundation, award donor Joan VanDuzer, CAN Executive Director Scott Walker, and CAN Chair The Hon. Marie-P. Charette-Poulin

The Robert Johnston Visionary Artist Award

The Robert Johnston Visionary Artist Award was introduced in 2019 with a grant from the Distinguished Mature Artist Fund at the Toronto Foundation. 

Originally called the Visionary Artist Lifetime Award, this prize has been renamed the Robert Johnston Visionary Artist Award in honour of the late Bob Johnston, one of the Canadian Artists Network’s original board members whose long career included serving as Deputy Minister of Culture for the Province of Ontario and General Manager of the National Ballet of Canada.

The Robert Johnston Visionary Artist Award is given annually to an artist … 

… whose exemplary work, produced away from the spotlight of the moment and without fanfare, has been a notable source of inspiration to others in the arts …

… and/or …

… whose visionary contributions to the arts and broader communities have been made in under-acknowledged or ‘behind the scenes’ roles

Our thanks to everyone who placed a nomination for this year’s award. The 2023 laureate will be announced in December.

Past Winners

The first winner, in 2019, was Patty Gail Peaker, chosen for her work in helping to found the Performing Arts Lodge in Toronto, along with PAL’s Supporting Cast Program.

The second winner, in 2020,  was John Leberg, the former Director of Operations for the Canadian Opera Company, who led the development of surtitles in opera.

The third winner, in 2021, was Elizabeth Doxtater, a cornhusk doll maker and mentor whose work is deeply imbedded in her Mohawk culture and traditions, and a sharer of her vision and talent. 

In 2022, the award was presented to Terrill Maguire, an elder dance artist, educator, and mentor who has worked with students from York University to James Bay.