The Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in theatre, Canada's most lucrative stage honour, will present its final edition in 2012.
On Tuesday, organizers issued a standard call for nominations for the 2012 edition, but ended the statement by revealing that this would be the final year for the $100,000 prize.
"The founders are proud of what the prize has achieved and are pleased to have played a role in honouring the significant contributions made by Elinore and Lou Siminovitch to Canadian society, in a way that would reflect their mutual lifelong love for the arts and, in particular the theatre,"Joseph Rotman, one of the prize's founders, said in a statement.
The prize had been slated to last approximately 12 years from the very start, though this information was never made public, Rotman told CBC News on Friday.
The annual honour was established in 2001 by several prominent philanthropic families, including Rotman and his wife Sandra, Elizabeth and Tony Comper, Anna and Leslie Dan and Judy and Larry Tanenbaum. Several organizations also participated, including the BMO Financial Group, The J.P. Bickell Foundation and the University of Toronto.
After generating approximately $1.2 million through fundraising, "the decision was made that it would be better to create a significant prize — namely $100,000 instead of a prize of $40,000 — in order to have a material impact," said Rotman, who has served as chair of the Canada Council since 2008.
"It was very much worth putting a timeframe on the prize rather than making it in perpetuity," which would have meant an annual award of between $30,000 to $40,000, he said.
"We debated this very strongly. We decided on the course we took and we have no regrets because it became very meaningful to each recipient and, I think, it became a very meaningful thing to the theatre community...All you have to do is speak to any of the recipients and they'll speak to that fact quite dramatically," he said.
There has been no discussion about continuing the honour or starting a new round of fundraising, he added.
"We feel we've done a great job and [the prize has] served its purpose beautifully."
Annual celebration of stage artists
Established to pay tribute to scientist and philanthropist Siminovitch and his late playwright wife Elinore, the prize became a high-profile annual celebration of Canadian stage artists.
Its distinctive structure helped the prize stand out. It alternated through a three-year cycle of honouring Canadian directors, playwrights and designers, with the winner a mid-career artist "who has contributed significantly to the fabric of theatrical life through a total body of work."
Also, it focused on an established artist as well as an up-and-comer, with the former receiving $75,000 and his or her protegé winning the remaining $25,000.
Past winners have included:
- Playwrights Carole Fréchette, John Mighton, Daniel MacIvor and Joan MacLeod.
- Designers Louise Campeau, Dany Lyne and Ronnie Burkett.
- Directors Daniel Brooks, Jillian Keiley, Brigitte Haentjens and Kim Collier.
The 2012 prize will honour theatre designers, including the creators of costumes, sets, lighting and sound.
Organizers will accept nominations until June 8 and announce the shortlisted contenders and subsequent winner in the fall.