Shahrzad Arshadi in front of a brick wall. Black and white photo.
Shahrzad Arshadi

Nightwood Theatre is thrilled to announce the winner of inaugural Louise Garfield Award – multidisciplinary artist, Shahrzad Arshadi. This annual cash prize is presented to an artist who has completed one of Nightwood’s new play development programs as a ‘later in life’ emerging creator. The recipient connects deeply to the company’s feminist mission and will have significantly enriched their community’s cultural or civic life. We are grateful that Louise has chosen Nightwood Theatre as the artistic home for this special award. It is part of Arts Etobicoke’s Presidents’ Legacy Scholarship Fund and is given annually and in perpetuity alongside 16 scholarships through an endowment fund at the Ontario Arts Foundation.

Shahrzad Arshadi – a Montréal-based award winning artist, performer, feminist and social justice activist – came to Canada as a political refugee on December 24, 1983. In her artistic career Shahrzad has ventured into different fields of photography, documentary film, sound creation, playwright and performance enabling her focus on issues of memory and culture. Sharzad is also Z gallery’s founder and Artistic director and was chosen as one of the YWCA’s Women of Distinction in 2017. At our last Groundswell Festival, Shahrzad and Anna Chatterton presented a reading of their work Children of Fire – an intimate portrayal of the Kurdish female freedom fighters using a mix of verbatim theatre and first-person confessional.

“As a refugee, ‘home’ is a feeling that I am constantly in search of,” says Arshadi. “Art and storytelling are what have brought me closer to that. With the brilliant Anna Chatterton and the story we wanted to tell, I was connected to Nightwood Theatre, one of the few places in this world that I can call home! It is a kind and generous space that has allowed me to be true to myself and the stories I’ve chosen to express. I am deeply honoured and thankful for being the recipient of the Louise Garfield Award presented by Nightwood Theatre.”

Louise Garfield is a veteran of the thriving cultural community in Toronto since the 1970s. Her varied background in dance, theatre, film & television, as a producer, performer and choreographer lend her administrator’s eyes a distinct sensibility. She is Executive Director Emerita at Arts Etobicoke, where she lead the organization for fourteen dynamic years. In 2017 Louise received an Urban Hero Award for her contributions to the arts and culture in Etobicoke.

“In so many ways, this scholarship completes a wobbly, uneven circle in my life,” says Garfield. “Years ago, Nightwood nurtured The Clichettes in the early stages of our development. It was part of the root system as feminist artists in Toronto. So the idea of bringing along another wave of artists to be supported while they create new work, is just a thrill! My heartfelt thanks to both Arts Etobicoke and Nightwood Theatre for the honour.”

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