Bob Johnston Award

The Work in Culture (WIC) Bob Johnston Award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to supporting the growth of our sector’s most valued resource—its people.

It is presented to an individual who is committed to furthering the growth and development of Ontario’s cultural sector and who has demonstrated strength in nurturing and supporting people throughout their careers, either as a manager, mentor, supporter or educator.

The Award is named after Robert (Bob) Johnston, whose persistent, patient and dynamic efforts over a lifetime of service stand as a model of professionalism for cultural workers of all disciplines and abilities.

As a former long-standing Executive Director of Work in Culture (formerly known as Cultural Careers Council Ontario), Johnston’s leadership resulted in heightened awareness of the importance of human resources management for cultural organizations and provided improved opportunities for training and professional development for cultural workers.

Bob Johnston passed away in November of 2022. We are pleased to honour and remember him with the presentation of the 2023 Award, and to recognize his lifetime of service to the cultural sector.

The Award is open to individuals (artists and administrators) who have contributed a minimum of ten years of professional service to the arts and cultural industries.

All nominations are reviewed by Work in Culture’s Bob Johnston Award Committee.

Please contact Brianne DiAngelo, Marketing and Communications Manager at [email protected] with any questions about the Bob Johnston Award.

2023 Bob Johnston Award

Work in Culture is pleased to announce that Jeanne LeSage has been named the recipient of the 2023 Bob Johnston Award. She was presented with the award by Work in Culture General Manager Karen Ennis at the organization’s annual general meeting and 25th anniversary celebration on Wednesday, November 15.  

Jeanne LeSage is a senior arts management professional with more than 30 years of national and international experience in festivals and multi-disciplinary performing arts. She is a sought-after consultant, educator and conference speaker working across Canada with a unique specialization and expertise in human resources management in the non-profit arts sector.   

Throughout her career, Jeanne has dedicated her time, energy and expertise to advancing and building capacity for a healthy arts sector through excellence in HR management and Board governance, helping both people and organizations make the arts a better place to work.  

The jury was impressed by Jeanne’s contributions to people development and HR support in the cultural sector, including her work on LEAN (Leadership Emergency Arts Network), a grassroots, volunteer network of arts leaders that she launched in March 2020 alongside Celia Smith and Michele Maheux to offer pro bono assistance to those trying to lead organizations through the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeanne’s work on reporting and investigation mechanisms for workplace harassment in the arts was also noted by the jury as a vital highlight.  

Jeanne LeSage is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Drama program, with a certificate in Human Resources from George Brown College, and an MBA in Executive Management with a specialization in Management Consulting. She is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) and is currently pursuing accreditation in mediation and alternative dispute resolution.   

Her career began with a 10-year run as a theatre stage manager working gigs across Canada. She spent 10 years at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Theatre Operations and created TIFF’s first HR department; followed by six years in international arts projects. In 2016, Jeanne launched her own consulting firm, LeSage Arts Management. LeSage Arts Management has since worked on more than 80 projects across Canada and the U.S. with a focus on human resources, board development, organizational effectiveness, strategy, facilitation, leadership succession and searches, and more.   

Spanning multiple artistic disciplines and serving a wide range of folks within the sector — from individual artists and arts workers to leadership, boards, and funding and governmental entities — Jeanne’s work has been consistently devoted to diligence, excellence and innovation in HR practices for culture workers.  

Work in Culture was thrilled to present Jeanne with a beautifully crafted piece of kiln-formed glass made by artist Don McClennen at the celebration on November 15 to mark this remarkable achievement.  

WorkInCulture Bob Johnston Award

Past Winners


Emerging Leader Award recipient – Jacqui Arntfield, Curator at Lakeshore Arts

Excellence Award recipient – Lila Karim, Executive Director, North York Arts

* Note: In 2018, WorkInCulture presented an Emerging Leader Award, alongside the Excellence Award, that provided $500 to go towards a professional development opportunity (course, workshop, residency, etc.).


Carol Kehoe, former Executive Director at Hamilton’s Philharmonic Orchestra


Margaret Genovese, Senior Partner at Genovese, Vanderhoof & Associates


Catherine Smalley, Arts Consultant and member of Arts Consultants Canada


Patricia Fraser, Dancer and Artistic Director of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre