Dawn Brennan and Roberta Smith Win John Hobday Awards in Arts Management


Ottawa, April 21, 2009 – The Canada Council announced today that Dawn Brennan, general manager of SHAPE (Safety and Health in Arts Production and Entertainment) and Roberta Smith, associate director of artistic administration, education at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra are the 2009 winners of the John Hobday Awards, which celebrate outstanding achievement in the field of arts management.

The $10,000 awards allow recipients to enhance their own professional development by taking part in a recognized program, seminar, workshop or a mentorship with another experienced arts manager; or to pass their knowledge on to the next generation by acting as a mentor for a young arts administrator. The competition was open to both senior and mid-career arts managers. Introduced in 2006, they were made possible by a $1 million endowment from The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation. John Hobday was executive director of the Foundation between 1983 and 2002, and director of the Canada Council from 2003 to 2006. The Canada Council administers these awards.

Images of Mss. Brennan and Smith can be downloaded from the Canada Council image gallery at www.canadacouncil.ca/news/imagegallery.

Dawn Brennan’s award is for professional development. She will enroll in the Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) program at Royal Roads University to develop sophisticated leadership and problem solving skills for managing today’s multifaceted learning organizations.

Roberta Smith’s professional development award will allow her to complete the MBA Program in Arts and Media Administration at the Schulich School of Business. This will enhance her leadership skills and her ability to manage in difficult and complex situations.

“These awards bring recognition to the often overlooked achievements and dedication of arts managers and their commitment to professional development and ongoing learning,” said Canada Council Director Robert Sirman. “They also contribute to the important development of future leaders.”

“We believe that talented professional arts managers contribute to the strength of Canada’s arts organizations,” said Stephen Bronfman, president of The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation. “On behalf of the Foundation, I would like to congratulate this year’s winners and commend them on their ongoing efforts to expand their knowledge and understanding of arts administration practices.”

The competition was adjudicated by a peer assessment committee consisting of Rober Racine, multi‑disciplinary artist (Montreal); Jini Stolk, Executive Director, Creative Trust (Toronto); and Catherine Charles Wherry, Arts Administrator, First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council (Brentwood Bay, BC).

In selecting this year’s winners, the jury said, “We are delighted to recognize the achievements of two dedicated arts management professionals – each with distinct career paths, but each equally committed to personal growth and learning, the well-being of the organizations they work for, and the development of their own arts community and the sector as a whole. We are excited about the interesting and creative proposals of both Dawn Brennan and Roberta Smith; they are strong leaders whose work and development we want to encourage and whose future impact we heartily believe in.”

Dawn Brennan

Dawn Brennan is one of British Columbia’s most seasoned and respected non-profit arts managers. At the 1994 Jessie Awards she was recognized for her work founding Vancouver’s Theatre Cares with the Mary Phillips Prize for Unsung Heroes. As a board member she has worked with Kokoro Dance, Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), the Alliance for Arts and Culture, the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation and the Granville Island Business and Community Association.

She is the general manager of SHAPE, Safety and Health in Arts Production and Entertainment. A graduate of the National Theatre School, her previous roles include the position of general manager at the Playhouse Theatre Company, general manager at the Vancouver International Writers Festival and executive director of Vancouver’s Women in View Festival. She has certifications in non-profit organization management (Vancouver Community College) and management development for arts administrators (Banff Centre for Management).

Roberta Smith

Roberta Smith has worked at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) for nearly 20 years, developing and expanding the Education and Outreach programmes, which currently reach over 100,000 young people annually in the Greater Toronto Area. In addition, she has been instrumental in providing educational programming to youth living in many smaller communities throughout Ontario. Future plans include expansion into the area of adult education, greater reliance on Web 2.0 as a teaching tool, and the release of How the Gimquat Found Her Song in late spring 2009, an educational DVD, CD and Study Guide, linked to the new Ontario music curriculum.

A graduate of the University of Toronto (Master of Arts in Musicology; 1987), Ms. Smith has helped establish many successful partnerships for the TSO with organizations such as the Royal Ontario Museum, TV Ontario, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Li Delun Music Foundation. Since 2005, she has served as Education Consultant to the Corporations of Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall for the Share the Music education programme. She has served as education chair for Orchestras Canada, and spent two terms on the Education & Community Relations Leadership Committee for the League of American Orchestras.

General information

In addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards many prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, engineering, and arts management. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council for the Arts is committed to raising public awareness and celebration of these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.

Please visit our website (www.canadacouncil.ca) for a complete listing of these awards.

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