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Sobey Art Award gets cash boost to $100K

Canada's top honour for young contemporary artists is getting a major boost, including a doubling of the cash prize for the Sobey Art Award.

In addition to increasing the cash prizes, organizers introduce artistic residencies

The Sobey Art Award gala at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2014. Canada's most prominent prize for contemporary art is getting a major boost, including a doubling of the top prize to $100,000. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)
  Canada's top honour for young contemporary artists is getting a major boost, including a doubling of the cash prize for the Sobey Art Award. 

The Sobey Art Foundation announced on Monday a host of changes for the annual prize, including:

  • Increasing the value of the Sobey Art Award to $100,000 (from $50,000).
  • Increasing the prize money for the shortlisted artists to $25,000 each (from $10,000). 
  • Increasing the prize money for the longlisted artists to $2,000 each (from $1,000).

The foundation also announced the creation of three residency programs to support Canadian artists. The first will see one of the 25 artists longlisted for the Sobey Art Award be selected for an artistic residency with Fogo Island Arts, in Newfoundland.

  Two further international residencies — to be designed by the National Gallery of Canada (which administers the Sobey Award) — are also in the works, with more details to be announced later in 2018. 

Launched to raise the profile of rising stars in the Canadian contemporary art scene, the Sobey Award is presented annually to a working artist under the age of 40. A cross-country panel selects semi-finalists from five different regions of the country, with judges eventually whittling down the list to a short list of five. Past recipients include Annie Pootoogook, David Altmejd, Brian Jungen and, most recently, Ursula Johnson.

Organizers attribute the boost in prize money and the new residencies program to a gift from the Donald R. Sobey Foundation, which spearheaded the prize itself in 2001.

"This support will help broaden a re-investment by our art foundation to put more money directly into the careers of Canadian artists. We hope to be able to create more significant and tangible international opportunities for our long-listed artists," Sobey Art Foundation chair Rob Sobey said in a statement. 

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