Prefix ICA » Prize


The Prefix Prize is a new annual prize awarded to a professional photographic artist of any nationality. Presented by Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art in partnership with the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival and Underline Studio, the inaugural prize will be launched in May 2021 in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of Prefix ICA and the twenty-fifth anniversary of Contact. The prize consists of three components: a cash prize of $2,000.00 CA, a published portfolio, and an exhibition presented in the surround gallery at Prefix ICA—all in the month of May on the occasion of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. The Prefix Prize, which will have a reach of 1,128,000, will be awarded to artists at any stage of their careers who have yet to receive the recognition that they deserve.

Entry Guidelines

The prize winner will be selected by an esteemed jury of five photographic art professionals, including representatives from Prefix ICA, Contact and Underline Studio, along with two additional experts drawn from the broader arts community. For the inaugural prize in May 2021, the jury includes Pamela Edmonds, senior curator, McMaster Museum of Art; Fidel Peña, creative director, Underline Studio; Bonnie Rubenstein, artistic director, Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival; and Scott McLeod, founding director, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as one other juror yet to be announced.

Entrants for the Prefix Prize must be professional photographic artists who have completed their basic education or training and who have produced an independent body of artwork. The number of entries is limited in order to guarantee that the jury spends a significant amount of time in their assessment of each entry and to ensure that the entrant has a strong chance of winning. Entries will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. At their discretion, the jury may also choose to award up to two honourable mentions.

Entrants must submit up to ten images representing the artist’s work, along with a completed entry form consisting of an artist’s statement or other text about the work, a biography and an images list.

Entry Fee
$65.00 CAD

October 30, 2020

The call for entries for the inaugural prize is now closed, but details for the next call for entries will be announced on April 15, 2021.

Submission Steps

1. Download the Prefix Prize entry form: Prefix_Prize_Entry_Form_2021.pdf

2. Complete the entry form, and save it as “Surname_PrefixPrize_2021.pdf”

3. Format up to ten images as JPEGs, each at a maximum of 1 MB, named and numbered as follows: “Surname_01”, etc.

4. E-mail your completed entry form and images as attachments, with the subject heading “Prefix Prize Entry,” to by October 30, 2020.

5. Pay the entry fee of $65.00 CA.

Entry fees may also be paid by phone at 1-416-591-0357, or by cheque or money order mailed to Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 124, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 3A8.

I am a full-time student. May I be considered for the prize?
No, full-time students are not eligible to receive the prize. Entrants must have completed their basic education or training and have produced an independent body of artwork.

I am a professional artist who works in a variety of media. May I support my entry with artwork in media other than photography?
Yes, your entry need not be exclusively limited to photography and may also include artworks in other media. However, entrants are advised, regardless of media, to demonstrate the relevance of their work to contemporary photographic discourses.

I am not Canadian. May I be considered for the prize?
Yes, entrants may be of any nationality and any place of residence.

If I were to win the Prefix Prize, what are my responsibilities? What are your responsibilities?
The winners of the prize are responsible for the provision of their artwork, ready for exhibition. The Prefix Prize is responsible for all reasonable costs associated with the presentation of the work, including shipping, brokerage, insurance, installation, documentation and promotion.

I work as a member of a collective. May the collective be considered as a single entrant?
Yes, a duo, collective or other formal association of artists may submit a single entry. However, all of the artwork submitted must have been produced by the associated artists in a collaborative fashion.

I am a commercial photographer. May I be considered for the prize?
Yes, commercial photographers may be considered for the prize. However, commercial photographers may only submit work which they produced independent of a client and over which they have had complete creative control.

How do I choose which artwork to submit?
Submit what you consider to be your strongest work that is most representative of your artistic practice.

If I submit artwork that has already been widely exhibited and published, will my entry be less competitive?
While the jury welcomes the submission of new and recent artwork that has not been widely disseminated, the submission of previously exhibited or published work will not put an entry at a disadvantage.

I planned to submit my entry, but Prefix had already reached its maximum of number of entries and closed the submission process. What can I do?
Have no fear. The Prefix Prize is an annual award, so you will be able to submit an entry next year. An announcement about the second annual prize will be made on April 15, 2021.

More FAQs
If I win the prize, will I receive an artist fee?
Yes, prize winners will receive artist fees in accordance with the CARFAC fee schedule. The awarding of the cash prize is separate from, and independent of, the payment of an artist fee.

If I win the prize, will I have to produce new work?
No, there is no requirement or expectation that prize winners produce new work. If winners wish to do so, Canadian artists may apply for production and/or exhibition-assistance grants to support their costs.

May I skip the entry form and entry fee in order to present my work to your jury or curatorial staff for exhibition consideration?
No, our exhibitions programme is curatorially driven, and our exhibitions are invitational only. Due to the high volume of requests, Prefix ICA does not now, nor has it ever, accepted unsolicited submissions from artists for its exhibition programme.

Why must I pay an entry fee?
All revenues generated by the prize, including those from entry fees, are applied toward the costs of delivering this new programme. These costs include the prize, fees, shipping, brokerage, insurance, installation, documentation, promotion, reception, and general administration.

Doesn’t the prize simply repackage your existing programmes?
No. The convening of a jury of photographic art experts in support of a prize is a new process for a new programme that offers new opportunities for artists.

What are the goals of the prize?
The prize has been designed to fill the void left by past prizes that no longer exist and to create new opportunities for artists in the “new normal” of a pandemic and post-pandemic world. The goals of the prize are to bring photographic artworks to the careful and considered attention of experts in the field; to create professional opportunities for photographic artists that have not previously existed; and to provide cash, visibility and prestige to the winning artists in the service of their ongoing careers. Ultimately, the goal is to lay the foundation for a prize that, with the support of partners, sponsors and donors, will increase in value over time.

I still require further assistance.
Please direct any additional questions to

Presentation Partners
Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival
Underline Studio