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This prize is named for Portia White, a Nova Scotian who rose through adversity to achieve international acclaim as a classical singer on the stages of Europe and North America. Although Portia White began her career teaching in Africville, she eventually turned her energy to developing her enormous musical talent. Portia White became a world-renowned contralto through much hard work and dedication and the financial support of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, a charitable organization created in 1944 by the Halifax Ladies Music Club, the music community and the Province. Upon retiring from the stage, Ms. White devoted her time to teaching and coaching young singers. Her achievements continue to instil a sense of pride in the African Nova Scotian community and stand as a model to all Nova Scotians.

The Portia White prize recognizes the artistic excellence of a Nova Scotian artist who has attained professional status, mastery and recognition in their discipline over a sustained career.
The award enables the province of Nova Scotia to promote excellence in the arts by honouring an outstanding Nova Scotian artist who has made a significant contribution to the province’s cultural life. 

The Prize

The primary recipient will receive $18,000 and a certificate of recognition.

A secondary recipient, who is an emerging Nova Scotia artist or a Nova Scotia cultural organization selected by the primary recipient, will receive $7,000 and a certificate of recognition.

How Often is the Prize Awarded?

The prize will be awarded annually, unless the peer assessment committee determines that there is no suitable candidate.

Who is Eligible?

Creative and interpretive artists working in any medium, who either were born in Nova Scotia or who have been resident in the province for at least the past four years, may be nominated. In addition nominees,

  • must have made an impact on the province’s cultural life
  • must be currently active in their artistic practice
  • must agree to be nominated
  • must not have received a Portia White Prize in the past

An artist cannot be nominated for both an Established Artist Recognition Award and the Portia White Prize in the same year.

Only one nomination package can be submitted for an artist in a year. 

Nominees must be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, and either have been born in Nova Scotia or have been resident in the province for at least the past four years.

How to Nominate an Artist

Eligible nominees must be nominated by three individuals who are all currently residents in the province, or, by a cultural organization or business registered or incorporated in Nova Scotia.

Nominators may make one nomination per year.

Nominators are encouraged to contact the Program Officer when completing this form for consultation and assistance with the nomination process

Nominator Statement

Applications must include a maximum three-page nominator’s statement that answers the following questions:

  1. Describe why the nominee’s key artistic achievements are important. 
  2. Describe the nominee’s important contributions to Nova Scotia’s cultural life. 
  3. How does the nominee demonstrate excellence in and mastery of their artistic discipline. 

Nominee Support Materials

Applications must include a two-page CV or description of artistic practice and applicable training, two letters of support and examples of the nominee’s work with this form. 

Letters of support should be from professional colleagues or organizations that speak to the nominee’s artistic achievements, recognition, and progress. Letters of support do not count against the samples of work maximums.

Examples of work should be provided to give assessors an overall impression of the nominee’s body of work. 

Below is a list of accepted formats, file sizes and amounts of examples of work. A table of contents and annotations that alert the peer assessment committee to specific aspects of the support materials (e.g. title, size, year, medium).

  Maximum # Submitted Maximum Length/File Size Accepted Formats
Audio 3 samples 15 minutes for all material Soundcloud, YouTube
Video 3 samples 15 minutes for all material YouTube, Vimeo
Still Images 10 images 2MB each .jpg, .tiff, .tif, .png
Print   15 printed pages .pdf

How are Recipients Chosen?

Arts Nova Scotia assembles a peer assessment committee who collectively possess the following characteristics:

  • knowledge of the culture sector
  • knowledge of arts practices
  • current leadership in cultural development
  • representation of the province’s cultural and geographic diversity

The peer assessment committee will review nominations, considering only the information required on the nomination form, to assess each nominee’s artistic achievement and contribution to Nova Scotia’s cultural life.


Nomination Submission

Send your application to according to the instructions below. You can watch our YouTube tutorial Submitting Your Application Over Email for more detailed instructions.

Before Sending Your Email

  • Include your name on all files
  • Number your files in the order they should be opened
  • Ensure your page limits and file sizes are in line with the program guidelines
  • Upload large audio and video files to a streaming service such as YouTube, Vimeo or SoundCloud

When Submitting

  • Address your email to
  • Send one application per email 
  • Subject line should be: “Portia White Prize for [Nominee]”
  • Keep attachments under 25MB
  • Do not attach large audio or video files; include a streaming link in the body of the email
  • Do not send cloud-based attachments (WeTransfer, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)
  • Do not duplicate your application; do not send an additional hard copy

Only submissions will be accepted to this email address. Please direct all questions to the program officer. 

If you are unable to submit by email please contact the program officer.

All applications sent to ArtsNS Submissions should receive an auto-reply confirmation. If you do not receive confirmation within one week, please contact a program officer. You must contact the program officer within two weeks of the deadline for us to consider your application. Applications will only be considered if there is proof of email being sent by the deadline.

Past Recipients

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