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A Long-Standing Priority of Investment in the Arts

The RBC Emerging Artists Project supports organizations that provide the best opportunity to advance an artist’s career trajectory in genres such as visual arts, music, theatre, performance, literature and film. Every year the RBC Foundation donates millions of dollars to hundreds of arts organizations globally to help emerging artists become established.

Our Partners

Our Featured Dance Partner

The RBC Apprentice Program at the National Ballet is the company’s primary means of developing young dancers. The program provides development and mentorship opportunities while helping prepare and transition the dancers from school to professional careers.

The ten dancers selected each year are the most promising candidates who refine their technique, gain performance experience and grow into professional dancers filling the ranks of respected dance companies worldwide.

Artist Story: Dancer Brendan Saye

Brendan Saye was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and trained at Canada’s National Ballet School. Brendan joined The National Ballet of Canada as a RBC Apprentice in 2008 and was promoted to First Soloist in 2017.

In 2012, Mr. Saye received the Patron Award of Merit and represented the National Ballet in The Tenth International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize. He also received the Peter Dwyer Award and Christopher Ondaatje Prize in 2008 while a student at Canada’s National Ballet School.

Mr. Saye’s roles include Siegfried in Swan Lake, Polixenes in The Winter’s Tale, Le Roi in Le Petit Prince, Phlegmatic in The Four Temperaments as well as Romeo and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet and an Icicle in The Nutcracker. He has danced featured roles in Hamlet, Cinderella, The Four Seasons, In The Upper Room, the second detail, Chroma, Enkeli and Self and Soul.

Mr. Saye has also danced roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Onegin, Giselle, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Don Quixote, La Fille mal gardée, The Seagull, La Sylphide, Pinocchio, Carmen, A Streetcar Named Desire, Opus 19/The Dreamer, Glass Pieces, West Side Story Suite, Emergence, Genus, The Dreamers Ever Leave You and No. 24.

Our Featured Film Partner

Toronto International Film Festival® is dedicated to presenting the best of international and Canadian cinema and creating transformational experiences for film lovers and creators of all ages and backgrounds. TIFF offers screenings, lectures, discussions, festivals, workshops, events, professional development and opportunities to meet, hear and learn from filmmakers from Canada and around the world.

In partnership with TIFF, we also launched the RBC Female Creator Initiative, a mentorship program aimed at increasing participation, skills, and networking opportunities for women working in the film industry. This initiative addresses the industry’s critical need for more diverse representation in front of and behind the camera.

Programmes supported by the RBC Female Creator Initiative provides opportunities for emerging artists to bridge the gap through coaching from industry experts, workshops including press, publicity and post-festival navigation, and access to industry events and masterclasses.

Learn more about the RBC Female Creators Initiative.

Watch Now:

Artist Story: V.T. Nayani

V.T. Nayani is a director, producer, and writer for the screen. She is an alumni of CBCs Workshop for Diverse Creators, HotDocs’ Doc Accelerator Program, and Reelworld Film Festival's Emerging 20 Program, as well as a recipient of the UN Women Yvonne M. Hebert Award for filmmakers and photographers.

Her work has been supported and championed by platforms including the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Prism Prize, RBC, ArtReach Toronto, Inside Out, and TIFF Next Wave. Nayani is currently in post-production for her first dramatic feature THIS PLACE, in partnership with Telefilm Canada's Talent to Watch Program.

Photography Credit: Nabil Shash

Our Featured Music Partner

Canadian Opera Company (COC) is the largest producer of opera in Canada. Along with an active production calendar, the COC also provides young Canadian opera professionals, advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and the practical career development skills necessary to succeed as a self-employed artist through their Ensemble studio program.

RBC Foundation has supported the Ensemble Studio Program for nearly 20 years. The studio is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals, providing advanced instruction, hands-on experience and career development opportunities. In this one – three year program, singers receive vocal and theatrical instruction, understudy major roles, participate in education and outreach programs and perform in COC main stage productions.

Artist Story: Soprano Karine Boucher

Soprano Karine Boucher recently graduated from the Atelier Lyrique, l’Opéra de Montréal and was the youngest artist ever accepted into this training program. In 2011, she was also a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Karine comes from Québec City, and holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the Québec Conservatory.

Karine’s past roles include Annina in La Traviata, Inez in Il Trovatore and Rosette in Manon (Opéra de Montréal); Miss Pinkerton in The Old Maid and the Thief and Micaëla in Carmen (Atelier lyrique); and Kätchen in Matrimonia Segreto (Québec Conservatory). She can’t pick just one dream role, specifying Verdi and Puccini as two composers that she especially loves. But she says that these roles require maturity. “So I have to be patient,” she adds.

Our Featured Theatre Partner

The Canadian Stage RBC Emerging Artist Program offers a variety of free training and artistic development opportunities for emerging artists and arts professionals, including:

  • Barrier-free access for all emerging theatre artists to specially programmed talks, workshops, networking events and opportunities
  • Director Development: A year-long residency, allowing two emerging directors to hone their skills, developing a project with access to Canadian Stage expertise, space and resources;
  • Company-in-Residence: A year-long residency, allowing a new company producing theatrical work to develop a project using Canadian Stage expertise, space and resources; and
  • Artistic Internships: Giving emerging artists increased exposure to the administrative and producing aspects of theatre

Artist Story: Theatre Artist Jordan Tannahill

Jordan Tannahill is a Canadian playwright, filmmaker, and theatre director described by the Toronto Star as "one of Canada’s most promising young independent theatre artists". Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, he is currently based in Toronto.

Through his company Suburban Beast, Tannahill writes and directs performances for theatres, galleries, and found spaces. His work frequently integrates experimental theatre and multimedia and often contains elements of magic realism and explores themes of queer identity, youth subculture, and suburbia.

Tannahill's play Late Company, for instance, investigates the impact of a gay adolescent's suicide on his parents and the family of his high school tormentor, while his play Concord Floral is a contemporary adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio's 14th century allegory The Decameron, set in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan and featuring a cast of youth from the region.

Jordan’s most recent accolades include being the youngest ever recipient of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama (2014), The Globe and Mail’s Canadian Artist of the Year (2014), The John Hirsch Prize (2014), The Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award (2014), The Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Emerging Queer Artist Award (2014) and ARTINFO’s ’30 Under 30’ most influential people in the Canadian Art World (2014).

Our Featured Visual Arts Partner

The Canadian Art Foundation (CAF) is uniquely Canadian, with a mandate to promote the understanding and appreciation of visual arts in Canada. The CAF enriches the public visual art education experience by profiling Canadian artists at home and abroad. It also encourages public engagement with the visual arts and advances the careers of emerging artists and writers.

See the RBC Visual Art Collection and learn more about the programs and initiatives we support.

Artist Story: Painter Melanie Authier

Melanie Authier's Paintings prove the ways that landscape is presented to use and the sometimes contradictory ways we experience it in the 21st century. In Apocalyptic Picnic, small fragments of blue sky and green meadow – elements perfect for an outing – sit in a mass of abstract forms, explosions of physic and creative energy. What do we expect from lovely landscapes? What romantic feelings could we project onto them? How do we presume they might improve our lives?

Authier makes these questions of emotional desire, projection and difficulty visible within her landscapes. The result is messy, real-life feeling in a picture postcard-rack fantasy.

Authier is a graduate of the MFA program at Guelph University and has exhibited extensively across Canada. She is interested in the emotional exploration of landscape and nature as sites of longing, yearning and desire.

Our Featured Literary Partner

The Writers’ Trust of Canada was founded by five notable Canadian authors — Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, Margaret Laurence, and David Young — to encourage a flourishing writing community in Canada. The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, established in memory of poet and short fiction writer Bronwen Wallace, recognizes promising writers.

Through the award, finalists meet and engage with each other, as well as with experienced writers and publishing industry leaders. As a result, many informal mentorships are developed between finalists, past jurors and other alumni. To enrich the experience of emerging writers, the finalists also receive written feedback from the jurors to better their writing and/or guide their career development.

Artist Story: Writer Leah Jane Esau

Leah Jane Esau is a playwright and fiction writer based in Montreal, where she recently graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada. Her play Disappeared won the 2012 Pam Dunn Award as well as the 2012 Tom Hendry Award. Leah holds an MA in drama from the University of Toronto and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph.

Unlocking the Potential of Artists



RBC Emerging Artist Project Alumni.

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We support programs that provide emerging artists with mentorship, apprenticeships and exposure to new and diverse audiences throughout their career. Need support for your program? Applications for RBC Emerging Artists Project grants are accepted year-round.

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