RBC Emerging Artist Award

Applications for 2019 Awards are now Closed.

New deadline will be announced this fall

RBC Emerging Artist ProjectThe RBC Emerging Artist Award was established to recognize and encourage the achievements of Ottawa artists who are in the early stages of their career in the arts and are working towards becoming recognized professional artists, while engaging with the community.

This award is presented by RBC and the Ottawa Arts Council to recognize emerging artists of all disciplines in Ottawa. The recipient will receive a $5,000 award and two finalists will receive $1,000 awards.

"17/matthew" by Olivia JohnstonOlivia Johnston

2019 Recipient of the RBC Emerging Artist Award

Olivia Johnston is a lens-based artist working in Ottawa, Canada. In 2018, she was shortlisted for the inaugural New Generation Photography Award presented by the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Photography Institute, and in 2017 she was a finalist for the RBC Emerging Artist Award. Her work has been displayed within Canada, including in the CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto as part of a two-person Featured Exhibition. She has also shown her work internationally, including in New York, NY; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and London, England. Her work is in private and public collections in Canada and internationally.



  • Stephen R. Coleman
  • Brendan A. de Montigny

Past recipients

How to Apply

An individual may apply for the award by filling out this form and gathering the required supporting documents, including a letter of recommendation and other materials. The completed package should be submitted to awards@ottawaartscouncil.ca via WeTransfer.com, before the deadline.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants for this award must:

  • Be in the emerging stage of their career, they would typically:
    • Be recognized as an emerging artist, as evidenced by their body of work.
    • Be between two and eight years of professional practice.
    • Have received local or national exposure with limited, if any, international exposure.
    • Not have applied or received funding as a mid-career artist.
    • Not be recognized as a mid-career artist by any other groups or organizations.
    • Not have taught in a post-secondary institution.
  • Be recommended by an individual or group who may only endorse one applicant in each category per year.
  • Have lived in the National Capital Region (defined as 75 km from Parliament Hill) for the previous two years.
  • Be involved in Ottawa’s professional arts community and work as a professional artist.
  • Have received public exposure where selection was carried out by an objective arm’s length body.
  • Not have previously received this award.
  • Not have been shortlisted for this award in the previous year.
  • Not be currently enrolled in full-time training.

Important Note

The jury may assign applications to Ottawa Arts Council Mid-Career Artist Award if they deem that category more appropriate.

Evaluation Criteria

  • The applicant is clearly recognized as an emerging artist.
  • The value of the applicant’s body of work, outside of basic training.
  • The applicant demonstrates commitment to further career development.
  • The applicant demonstrates involvement in Ottawa’s arts community.

Important Dates

  • Information Session: January 22, 2019
  • Application deadline: February 24, 2019
  • Shortlist Announcement: April 9, 2019 at 4 pm via Facebook Live

  • Awards Presentation: May 7, 2019

Support Documents

These documents will help the jury better understand you, your artistic practice, your commitment to pursuing a career as an artist and your involvement in the city’s arts community.

Your Applications and Support Documents must be submitted via WeTransfer.com to awards@ottawaartscouncil.ca. Incomplete or late packages will not be reviewed by the jury.

Please include the following documents in the application:

  • Short Biography
    A short bio describing your career as an artist in 100 words or less.
  • Artist Statement
    A text of up to 2 pages that explains your art practice to the jury formed of experts in a variety of art disciplines.
  • Artist’s CV
    A CV of up to two pages maximum that demonstrates your achievements as an artist, your participation in art projects (such as exhibitions, performances, recordings, published works, etc.), and your formal and informal training.
  • Statement of Impact
    A brief description (100 words) of how receiving the award would further your career.
  • Letter of Recommendation
    Your Recommender must provide a letter that explains why you should receive this award. It should describe your professional artistic development and your involvement in the Ottawa arts community.
  • Additional Letters of Support
    You may also include up to five pages of additional letters of support to strengthen your application.
  • Support Materials
    Include up to 10 pieces of support material that is appropriate to your artistic practice and strengthens your application. Be sure to fill out the Support Materials List for any materials included in the application. Your support materials can include any combination of the following up to a total of 10 pieces:
    • Images
      Up to 10 JPGs, at least 1920x1080 px, no more than 5 MB per file. 
    • Audio
      Up to 3 files (or links), 3 minutes each or a maximum total running time of 9 minutes.
    • Video
      Up to 3 files (or links), 3 minutes each or a maximum total running time of 9 minutes.
    • Text
      A single document (DOC, TXT, or PDF) containing one or more excerpts of your writing (poetry, creative writing, original composition, script, etc.) to a maximum length of 10 pages.

Download the Application Form

Please use Adobe Acrobat to complete the PDF form.