OAF News

Sean Mulcahy honoured with the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design

Toronto, June 17, 2020 – Toronto-based set and costume designer Sean Mulcahy is the 2020 recipient of the $20,000 Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design.  The award is given annually to a professional costume designer in Ontario in mid-career to further enrich their career.

About Sean Mulcahy

Sean is a Toronto based designer whose work has been seen across North America, including at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Rainbow Stage, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Drayton Entertainment, Obsidian Theatre Company, Canadian Stage, Harold Green Jewish Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse and Neptune Theatre. He was an assistant designer at the Stratford Festival for seven seasons and the inaugural designer for Es Artes, the Stratford Suchitoto Project.

He has been awarded a Guthrie and the Tom Patterson Award (Stratford Festival) and received three Robert Merritt awards (8 nominations, Theatre Nova Scotia). He received best Group Costume Design (Pride Toronto) and was shortlisted for the 2011 Pauline McGibbon Award.

Sean is a graduate of York University’s Theatre Production and Design program (BFA Honours), and holds a PGCert. in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. He is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada and a Design instructor at Ryerson University, Chang School for Continuing Education.

I am humbled to be this year’s laureate and must acknowledge the craftspeople who help me bring my garments to life, the performers who inhabit each character and feel emboldened by their costume and every director who has given me the opportunity to contribute to the creative vision, particularly those who gave me a bit of unbridled freedom and trust


Sean Mulcahy was selected by a jury comprising Andrea Donaldson, Artistic Director, Nightwood Theatre (Toronto), Julia Kim, emerging set and costume designer (Toronto), and Gillian Gallow, 2018 Cooper laureate, set and costume designer (Toronto).

The jury was unanimous in their choice of Sean Mulcahy as the 2020 laureate, stating, "Sean's work is bold and original. He has a strong sense of texture which he uses to help animate the characters."

“Bend It Like Beckham, The Musical”. Starvox Entertainment. 2019. Blyth Jandoo with Paul Almeida. LX Jason Hand. Photo by Seanna Kennedy.

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:  Joanna Yu (2019), Gillian Gallow (2018) and Tamara Marie Kucheran (2017).   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 2019-2020, the OAF paid out over $4.25 million in endowment income and $270,000 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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