Western became the first university in Ontario to give performance and visual arts graduate students a chance at receiving a provincially funded scholarship.

The Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS) are provincially funded scholarships for students studying at the postgraduate and doctoral level.

Awarded at a value of $15,000 each year, these scholarships go a long way in aiding students with their research as well as letting them dedicate more of their time to their academic pursuits.

Each Ontario university is allocated a certain number of awards based on enrolment, which are then distributed proportionately to each faculty. Recipients are typically chosen based on traditional academic criteria, such as published papers, academic conferences and an 80 per cent average.

These set criteria have led to the exclusion of visual and performance arts students from the OGS awards. Linda Miller, Western's vice-provost for graduate and post-doctoral studies, realizes that traditional measurements do not accurately reflect excellence in these programs.

“It’s difficult to compare scholarly outputs such as papers and presentations to performances and shows, which are indicators of achievement for students in the visual and performing arts programs," Miller said in an email.

The University has allocated two scholarships specifically for students to highlight artistic performance. The excellence needed to receive an OGS has always been competitive among faculties, and Western is taking a step forward in recognizing the talent it takes to be studying in the visual and performing arts programs.

“Western’s graduate programs in visual art and music performance are truly exceptional," stated Miller. "Very few universities in Canada offer a master's program in performance and visual art, so we are really hoping that the awards will help to increase awareness of Western’s visual art and music performance programs and help us continue to attract outstanding students.”

Miller remains optimistic about the future of artistic studies, hoping that recognizing performance in the OGS awards will convey the message that artistic performance is valued at Western. 

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