Michael Spence Award for Contribution to Community Theatre

Theatre Ontario's Michael Spence Award for Contribution to Community Theatre is presented annually for outstanding contribution to community theatre in a region over a sustained time. The award is presented to someone from the region that is hosting that year's Theatre Ontario Festival.


  • Sustained contribution to community theatre;
  • Generosity of spirit, involvement, and commitment to community theatre that is legendary within their region, helping community theatre flourish.


  • Nominations are made to Theatre Ontario by community theatres in the applicable region
  • Nominations are reviewed by the region's jury, and they recommend the recipient to Theatre Ontario
  • Theatre Ontario presents the award at the Theatre Ontario Festival Awards Brunch


The award was established in 1997 by Theatre Ontario on the occasion of Theatre Ontario's 25th Anniversary. Multiple awards were presented on the quinquennial anniversaries of Theatre Ontario until 2012, when it became an annual award presented to a single individual in the Festival host region.

About Michael Spence

The award is named in honour of Michael Spence, the founding President of Theatre Ontario.  Michael was active in community theatre at Hart House Theatre, London Little Theatre, and the University Alumnae Dramatic Club (now known as Alumnae Theatre.)  He was a member of the Board of Governors of the Dominion Drama Festival, a past President of Arts Etobicoke, and continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of Theatre Ontario.

Past Recipients

Past recipients of the award are Joan McRae, Anne Wilson, Lillian Sievanen, Betty Coates, Sharon Sproule, Arlene Watson, Vince Mathewson, David Glover, Harry Houston, Hans Warmenhoven, Beth McMaster, Val Hadley, Maureen Lukie, Gabe Ferrazzo, Ken Stephen, Margaret Shearman, Lawrie Bonanno, Jo-anne Spitzer, Walter Maskel, Joe O'Brien, Bev Dietrich, John Storey, Murray Finn, David Parry, and Susan M. Perkins.

Learn more about past recipients of the Michael Spence Award on the Theatre Ontario Blog

2019 Award

The 2019 award is presented to an individual from the Central Ontario community theatre region which includes the City of Toronto, Durham Region, Halton Region (except the City of Burlington), Peel Region, York Region, Dufferin County, Simcoe County, and the District of Muskoka.

Call for nominations for the 2019 award: October 2, 2018
Deadline for nominations for the 2019 award: January 31, 2019
Presentation of the 2019 award: May 19, 2019 in Richmond Hill

The 2019 co-recipients of the Michael Spence Award for Contribution to Community Theatre is Chantal Forde and Tim Cadeny

Download the Michael Spence Award guidelines (PDF - will be available in Fall 2019)

Download the Michael Spence Award nomination form (PDF - will be available in Fall 2019)

Future Awards

2020: Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario

2021: Eastern Ontario

2022: Western Ontario

For more information about the Michael Spence Awards, please contact Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager, at brandon[@]theatreontario.org or 416.408.4556 x.13


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