Stage Door News

Toronto: Obsidian Theatre and Luke Reece announce the Black Shoulders Legacy Fund

Thursday, September 10, 2020

On the heels of the formal retirement of founding artistic director Philip Akin from Canada’s leading Black theatre company,  Obsidian Theatre Companyalongside former company Producer Luke Reece announce a legacy fund titled The Philip Akin - Black Shoulders Legacy Award. $150,000 has been raised in support of this groundbreaking award, with an additional call for support announced today to ensure the continued legacy of one of the founders of Canadian theatre. This is the first award of its kind, solely dedicated to the success of Black Canadian theatre artists, ensuring creators are equipped with the skills to be at the top of their professional game. 

The Black Shoulders Legacy Award aims to support and nurture emerging Black Canadian theatre artists through financial support, artistic guidance, and national promotion. Five artists will be selected each year via submission and awarded a $5,000 honorarium towards training and other opportunities  to enhance and grow their artistic craft.  This national award will be given to both performing and non-performing artists who show promise and are working towards a future in theatre, further amplifying Black voices in the Canadian theatre landscape. This fund is managed by the Ontario Arts Foundation and will be awarded by Philip Akin, Luke Reece, Taylor Akin and the Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre at the time of that round of applications. If the fundraising target is reached in time, first award will be announced in Spring 2021 with a call for submissions being announced in Winter 2020. 

Luke Reece first thought of the idea to ensure his mentor and friend would be forever cemented into the landscape of Canadian theatre. “I looked around at all of the legacy awards in Canadian theatre and saw a gaping hole. Philip needed an award in his name, and it needed to be extraordinary. This will change lives for years to come.”

Philip Akin was surprised by staff on his last day with the news of the creation of this award. “To have a harvest you need to plant. This award is a way for there to be a growing crop of Black artists ready to create the future.”

To date, $150,000 dollars has been raised by the Canadian theatre community including donations by Belfry Theatre Company, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Cahoots, Canadian Stage, Derrick Chua, Factory Theatre, Harold Green Jewish Theatre, Tamara Jones, Kimberley Rampersad, Mitchell Cohen, Manitoba Theatre Centre, The Musical Stage Company, Obsidian Theatre Company, Luke Reece, Alicia Rose, Rupal Shah, The Shaw Festival, Soulpepper, The Stratford Festival, Summerworks, Tanisha Taitt, The Theatre Centre, Theatre Gargantua and Young People's Theatre.

The Shaw Festival is the biggest supporter at this stage, committing $10,000 per year over a 5-year span, totalling $50,000 towards the award.

To ensure the future and longevity of this groundbreaking award, a call for support is made today with a goal of $650,000. To make a donation, please visit