On Monday the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) announced the winners of this year’s Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, which come with CAD 25,000 cash (~USD 18,700). On Tuesday one of the recipients, industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky, announced that he will use his award money to create an annual $5,000 grant, to be given to an emerging Canadian photographer for the next five years. The grant is intended to help recipients publish a photography book.
“I remember how hard it is to actually get a start in the medium of photography,” Burtynsky told the CBC. “It gives you that gravitas to actually get your ideas and your work out. … You can send it to somebody and they’ll pay attention because all of a sudden, there’s some substance here, there’s a context here. I think online decontextualizes a lot of things.”
Dubbed the Burtynsky Grant, it will be given in the context of the Contact Photography Festival, which takes place each spring in Toronto. Submissions are now being accepted for the inaugural grant, with the winner to be announced at the conclusion of this year’s festival, in late May. Photographers submitting their work must be citizens or residents of Canada and have at least 10 dummy pages of the proposed photo book laid out. The new grant is unique in Canada; among the CCA’s visual arts and media arts grants, none specifically supports photography (though many are open to photographers).
“Those grants are so important,” Burtynsky told CBC. “You get the wind in the back of your sails and you go out there and you’ve got the support of your country and you’re making photographs.”