OAF News

Joanna Yu honoured with the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design

Toronto, June 24, 2019 – Toronto-based set and costume designer, Joanna Yu is the 2019 recipient of the $20,000 Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design.  The award is given annually to professional costume designers in Ontario in mid-career to further enrich their careers through research and travel.

About Joanna Yu

Joanna Yu has designed costumes and sets for many performing arts organizations across Canada including the Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Young People’s Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Neptune Theatre, the Grand, Why Not Theatre, Factory Theatre, Obsidian, Nightwood, Cahoots, Musical Stage Co., Theatre Passe Muraille and the Blyth Festival. Joanna has been an Assistant Designer with Soulpepper, Canadian Opera Company and the Stratford Festival.

She has been a guest artist/designer at Humber College, Sheridan College, George Brown College, Ryerson University, Randolph Academy for the Arts and has guest lectured at York University.

Recipient of the 2017 Pauline McGibbon Award, Joanna’s upcoming credits include set designs for Much Ado about Nothing and Measure for Measure at Canadian Stage Shakespeare in High Park, set and costumes for the world premiere of Kat Sandler’s Yaga at Tarragon Theatre, and set and costumes for Pinocchio at Young People’s Theatre.

Jury Comments

The jury was unanimous in their choice of Joanna Yu as the 2019 laureate, stating “Joanna’s work is beautiful and reflects a wide breadth of expression. Her designs have a strong understanding of palette, texture, proportion and history. Joanna shows curiosity and artistic whimsy in her of pattern. Virginia Cooper created this award to celebrate the love of creation. Joanna’s costumes are a perfect manifestation of that wish.”

Joanna Yu was selected by a jury comprising David Boechler, costume designer (Toronto), Patricia Flood, costume designer, educator, author (Guelph), and Tamara Marie Kucheran costume designer, 2017 Cooper laureate (Stratford).

"The Aeneid", Stratford Festival 2016. Director: Keira Loughran Photo by: David Hou. Pictured clockwise from left: Karen Robinson, Bahareh Yaraghi, Saamer Usmani, Josue Laboucane, Gareth Potter, Michael Spencer-Davis

About the Award

Established through a generous gift under the will of Dr. Virginia Cooper, the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award is to be given "For the Love of Creation".  Dr. Cooper served as a director of the Tarragon Theatre, and was a charter member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto and active in its activities.  She had a keen interest in the performing arts, particularly in costume design. 

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the award, and the Ontario Arts Council manages the nomination and adjudication process.

Previous award winners include:  Gillian Gallow (2018), Tamara Marie Kucheran (2017) and Camellia Koo (2016).  See the full list of previous recipients here.


For more information, please contact:
Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2018-2019, the OAF paid out over $4.35 million in endowment income and $315,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts and artists for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2018-2019, the Ontario Arts Council invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations.

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