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The Canadian Conference of the Arts Announces its National Arts Award Winners for 2009

(Ottawa, ON) September 13, 2010 – The Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) is pleased to announce the winners of its national arts awards for 2009. Françoise Sullivan and Joyce Zemans will receive the Diplôme d’honneur, while Maurice Forget and Robert Jekyll will receive the Keith Kelly Award for Cultural Leadership. The winners will be presented with their awards during the CCA’s 65th anniversary Gala dinner, taking place on November 1, 2010 at the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa.

The Diplôme d’honneur is presented annually in recognition of a sustained contribution to the cultural life of the country, whether through volunteer activity, mentoring, patronage, individual arts practice or other recognized support. It was first awarded in 1954 to the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, then Governor General of Canada, in recognition of the report of the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letter and Social Sciences. Since then, the CCA has recognized more that 70 visionaries and creators of Canada’s rich cultural identity including Glenn Gould, Norman McLaren, Joe Fafard, Gabrielle Roy and Phyllis Lambert. Françoise Sullivan will receive the award in recognition of her illustrious career and contribution to visual arts in Canada, while Joyce Zemans will be honoured for her involvement in the cultural sector as a scholar, mentor and leader.

The Keith Kelly Award for Cultural Leadership has been awarded annually since 1998, when it was established to recognize the leadership shown by the former National Director of the CCA during his tenure. It is presented to a Canadian who has made a significant contribution to the arts through advocacy work or the development of cultural policy, or who has otherwise demonstrated leadership in the field. Maurice Forget will be recognized for his contribution as a philanthropist, donor and supporter of Montreal’s cultural scene. The award will also be presented to Robert Jekyll for his role as a leader and promoter of the fine craft sector.

Recipients of the awards are selected by the CCA’s Awards Committee, based on nominations received from CCA members.

The Gala will take place from 6:30 pm to 9 pm. Acclaimed Canadian actor and director Paul Gross will be the keynote speaker. The gala will also serve as a kick off to the CCA’s National Policy Conference, Artists: Powering the Creative Economy?, taking place November 2 and 3 at the NAC. To register and purchase tickets for the gala, please visit

The Canadian Conference of the Arts is a national forum for the arts, heritage and cultural community in Canada. It provides research, analysis and consultations on public policies affecting the arts and Canadian cultural institutions and industries. The CCA fosters informed public debate and seeks to advance the cultural life of Canadians.


A visionary in her field, Françoise Sullivan stands among the nation’s most influential and innovative contemporary artists. Born in Montreal, Sullivan received her early training at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal before moving to New York to study dance. Although she garnered acclaim as a pioneer of modern dance, it has been her work as a visual artist, painter and sculptor that has truly marked her long career. She was part of the Automatistes, an avant-garde movement, and was a signatory of the group’s 1948 manifesto, Refus Global. Her work has been exhibited in national and international galleries, and has been awarded numerous grants and prizes. Sullivan holds honorary degrees from the Université du Québec à Montréal and York University in Toronto. In 2005, Sullivan received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. In 2009, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Joyce Zemans has made valuable contributions to the cultural sector through her work as a scholar, teacher, writer, volunteer and mentor. She is a Professor Emerita and Senior Scholar at York University. She is also the Director of the MBA program in Arts and Media Administration at York’s Schulich School of Business. She previously served as Dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, Chair of York’s Department of Visual Arts and Acting Director of the MBA Program in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She is a former Director of the Canada Council for the Arts. Her leadership and tenacity during her tenure at the Council was evident as she effectively led the organization through an important period of transition. Zemans is actively involved as a member of the advisory boards of the Toronto Arts Council, the Creative Trust and Concordia University’s Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, among others. She is a Member of the Order of Canada.

A lawyer by profession, Maurice Forget is a well-known philanthropist and supporter of the arts and culture scene in Montreal. Forget is the former Chairman of the law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, and has been actively involved as a member of the board of numerous artistic organizations, covering various disciplines. For seven years, he served as the Chair of the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM) and under his guidance and perseverance, CAM achieved its status as an arm’s-length corporation, separate from the City. An avid art collector, in 1995, he donated his collection of 400 contemporary artworks to the Musée d’art de Joliette and continues to contribute artworks as a donor and lender. In 1998, Forget was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2009, he was named Arts-Business Personality of the Year by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and the Conseil des Arts de Montréal.

An advocate for the arts, a dedicated leader and a talented visual artist, Robert Jekyll has had a great impact on Canada’s cultural landscape. For over 30 years, he has operated a stained glass studio practice in Toronto. His works have been included in exhibitions and major collections across Canada, and have been commissioned at many public locations. Beyond his talent as an artist, Jekyll has been recognized for his contributions to the advancement of fine craft. He played a pivotal role in the reformation of the Canadian Crafts Council, now known as the Canadian Craft Federation. During his tenure as Founding President and Administrative Director of the Federation, he led the organization’s advocacy efforts and increased its public profile. He has also been connected with craft and design movements through his involvement on the boards of the Ontario Crafts Council, Visual Arts Ontario, the Design Exchange and the Canadian Society of Decorative Arts.