The Governor General's Performing Arts Awards are an annual Canadian award, presented to honour distinguished achievements in Canadian performing arts and culture. Administered by the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Foundation in association with the National Arts Centre, they present lifetime achievement awards for work in all performing arts domains, including theatre, dance, film, television and radio broadcasting and both popular and classical music; the awards are, however, not necessarily presented exclusively to performers, and may also honour people who have had distinguished careers in the business side of cultural industries, such as film, television and theatre directors and producers.
From 1992 to 2014, they typically honoured six figures per year; since 2015 they have honoured five. In addition to the lifetime awards, they also present the National Arts Centre Award to honour a figure who has had significant career achievements within the past year but is not yet considered to be at the "lifetime achievement" stage of their career, and the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts to honour people who have been active in voluntary service to the arts.
Recipients of the lifetime achievement and NAC awards receive $25,000 and a commemorative medallion; recipients of the RJH award receive a medallion, but are not given money. The awards are presented at a live gala at the National Arts Centre, and are typically recorded for broadcast by CBC Television at a later date.
Once inducted into one of the main "lifetime achievement" categories, a recipient is not honoured again in future years; however, a recipient of the NAC or RJH awards may be later named as a lifetime achievement recipient.
In 1994, Paul Gessell of the Ottawa Citizen criticized the foundation for honouring Neil Young, on the grounds that he had lived in the United States for many years and had, according to Gessell, "turned his back" on Canada, and Gilles Vigneault due to his support of the Quebec sovereignty movement. He further predicted, correctly, that Joni Mitchell would be an honoree in the near future, but opined that she was an inappropriate choice for the same reason as Young. In 2001 he criticized the awards for paying lip service to diversity in Canadian arts despite the fact that only two people of colour, pianists Oscar Peterson and Jon Kimura Parker, had ever been named as honorees as of that time.
One named honoree in 2005, singer-songwriter and poet Raymond Lévesque, declined the honour due to his support of the Quebec sovereignty movement. The awards proceeded that year with five lifetime honorees instead of six.
In 2018, Governor General Julie Payette faced controversy when she announced that she would not be presiding over the ceremony, the first time in the history of the awards that the sitting governor general did not attend. Payette offered little clarification of her reasons for not attending, but had faced some criticism since the beginning of her term around her apparently limited workload.
|Oscar Peterson||Popular music|
|Léopold Simoneau||Classical music|
|Norman Jewison||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Gilles Maheu, Carbone 14||National Arts Centre Award|
|Leonard Cohen||Popular music|
|Lois Marshall||Classical music|
|Gilles Vigneault||Popular music|
|Joan Chalmers||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Michel Marc Bouchard and Les Deux Mondes||National Arts Centre Award|
|Robert Charlebois||Popular music|
|Jean Papineau-Couture||Classical music|
|Neil Young||Popular music|
|Sandra Kolber||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Robert Lepage||National Arts Centre Award|
|Maureen Forrester||Classical music|
|Anne Murray||Popular music|
|Arthur Gelber||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Ben Heppner||National Arts Centre Award|
|Joni Mitchell||Popular music|
|Luc Plamondon||Popular music|
|Martha Lou Henley||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Jon Kimura Parker||National Arts Centre Award|
|Nicholas Goldschmidt||Classical music|
|Monique Leyrac||Popular music|
|Gordon Lightfoot||Popular music|
|Maryvonne Kendergi||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Karen Kain||National Arts Centre Award|
|Bruce Cockburn||Popular music|
|Royal Canadian Air Farce||Broadcasting|
|Jon Vickers||Classical music|
|Joseph H. Shoctor||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Denis Marleau||National Arts Centre Award|
|Louis Quilico||Classical music|
|Ginette Reno||Popular music|
|Sam Sniderman||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Mario Bernardi||National Arts Centre Award|
Due to a change in the award's scheduling from fall to spring, the awards were not presented in 2007.
|Stompin' Tom Connors||Popular music|
|Walter Carsen||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Cirque du Soleil||National Arts Centre Award|
|2001||Mario Bernardi||Classical music|||
|Diane Dufresne||Popular music|
|Anne Claire Poirier||Film|
|Thea Borlase||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Édouard Lock and La La La Human Steps||National Arts Centre Award|
|The Guess Who||Popular music|
|Phil Nimmons||Popular music|
|Fernand Lindsay||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Angela Hewitt||National Arts Centre Award|
|2003||Pierrette Alarie||Classical music|||
|Ian Tyson||Popular music|
|Sandra Pitblado, Jim Pitblado||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Marie Chouinard||National Arts Centre Award|
|2004||Kate & Anna McGarrigle||Popular music|||
|Joseph Rouleau||Classical music|
|Constance Pathy||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Rick Mercer||National Arts Centre Award|
|Oliver Jones||Popular music|
|Gail Asper||Hnatyshyn Award|
|k.d. lang||National Arts Centre Award|
|Robbie Robertson||Popular music|
|Georges Laoun, Sherif Laoun||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Richard Bradshaw||National Arts Centre Award|
|2008||Anton Kuerti||Classical music|||
|Michel Pagliaro||Popular music|
|Eric Charman||Hnatyshyn Award|
|The Tragically Hip||National Arts Centre Award|
|Édith Butler||Popular music|
|R. Murray Schafer||Classical music|
|George F. Walker||Theatre|
|James D. Fleck||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Paul Gross||National Arts Centre Award|
Jazz singer Michael Bublé was named as the recipient of the National Arts Centre award in 2016; however, as he was unable to attend the gala due to vocal cord surgery, he received the award at the 2017 gala instead.
|2010||Bryan Adams||Popular music|||
|Walter Homburger||Classical music|
|Buffy Sainte-Marie||Popular music|
|Mohammad Faris, Yulanda Faris||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Yannick Nézet-Séguin||National Arts Centre Award|
|Jean-André Élie||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Denis Villeneuve||National Arts Centre Award|
|2012||Janina Fialkowska||Classical music|||
|Earlaine Collins||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Des McAnuff||National Arts Centre Award|
|2013||Andrew Dawes||Classical music|||
|Daniel Lanois||Popular music|
|Jean Pierre Lefebvre||Film|
|Jean-Pierre Desrosiers||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Sarah Polley||National Arts Centre Award|
|Blue Rodeo||Popular music|
|Jean Giguère||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Albert Schultz||National Arts Centre Award|
|2015||Walter Boudreau||Classical music|||
|Sarah McLachlan||Popular music|
|R. H. Thomson||Theatre|
|Michael M. Koerner||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Jean-Marc Vallée||National Arts Centre Award|
|2016||Susan Aglukark||Popular music|||
|Ben Heppner||Classical music|
|John D. McKellar||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Michael Bublé (presentation delayed to 2017)||National Arts Centre Award|
|Michael J. Fox||Broadcasting|
|Yves Sioui Durand||Theatre|
|William H. Loewen||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Michael Bublé (award from 2016)||National Arts Centre Award|
|Angela Hewitt||Classical music|
|Murray McLauchlan||Popular music|
|Peter Herrndorf||Special Award|
|Florence Junca Adenot||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Tegan and Sara||National Arts Centre Award|
|2019||Louise Bessette||Classical music|||
|E. Noël Spinelli||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Sandra Oh||National Arts Centre Award|
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, the 2020 gala was cancelled; however, as that year's recipients had already been announced in February before COVID-related lockdowns came into effect, they were honoured at a 2021 gala, with no new honorees named for 2021 itself.
|2020-21||Tantoo Cardinal||Broadcasting and film|||
|Alexina Louie||Classical music|
|Catherine O'Hara||Broadcasting and film|
|Florent Vollant||Popular music|
|Lynda Hamilton||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Ryan Reynolds||National Arts Centre Award|
|2022||Fernand Dansereau||Broadcasting and film|||
|David Foster||Popular music|
|Rita Deverell||Broadcasting and film|
|Michelle Smith||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Crystal Pite||National Arts Centre Award|
|2023||Michel Marc Bouchard||Theatre|||
|Molly Johnson||Popular music|
|Rosemarie Landry||Classical music|
|k.d. lang||Popular music|
|John Kim Bell||Hnatyshyn Award|
|Paul Sun-Hyung Lee||National Arts Centre Award|
- Rod Currie, "Governor-general unveils new lifetime awards for performing arts". Montreal Gazette, September 23, 1992.
- Dianne Rinehart, "Canada honors its own with newly crafted prize". Vancouver Sun, November 9, 1992.
- Paul Gessell, "Back Canada or decline arts award". Ottawa Citizen, November 6, 1994.
- Paul Gessell, "Great Canadians, eh?: The Governor General's Performing Arts Awards are meant to be a celebration of the country's most important artists. But as Paul Gessell notes, they're not exactly a reflection of the new multicultural Canada". Ottawa Citizen, November 1, 2001.
- "Poet rejects G-G arts award over sovereignty issues". Windsor Star, October 26, 2005.
- Kelly Roesler, "Seven award winners revel in song and dance". Ottawa Citizen, November 6, 2005.
- Brian Platt, "Julie Payette won't preside over 2018 Governor General's History Awards ceremony". National Post, September 26, 2018.
- "Awards honor elite in arts". Windsor Star, September 9, 1992.
- "Vigneault, Chiriaeff, Mercure, Cohen among Performing Arts honorees". Halifax Daily News, October 6, 1993.
- "Charlebois, Neil Young receive arts awards from Hnatyshyn". Montreal Gazette, November 7, 1994.
- Susan Riley, "Forrester, Murray head list of winners". Vancouver Sun, September 20, 1995.
- "Governor General arts awards for six". Hamilton Spectator, September 18, 1996.
- Bonnie Malleck, "Governor General's Awards celebrate six outstanding artists". Waterloo Region Record, December 27, 1997.
- Andrew Flynn, "It's no farce: Comedy troupe, Bruce Cockburn among recipients of Governor General's Performing Arts awards". St. Catharines Standard, September 22, 1998.
- "Six get Governor General Performing Arts awards". Timmins Daily Press, September 29, 1999.
- "Performing arts awards pushed back to May". Waterloo Region Record, September 22, 2007.
- Bruce Deachman, "Stompin' Tom comes close to tears at Governor-General's Performing Arts Awards". National Post, November 6, 2000.
- "Plummer, Max Ferguson among those receiving Gov-Gen. awards". Nanaimo Daily News, September 29, 2001.
- "Kain heads list of GG winners". Peterborough Examiner, November 2, 2002.
- John McKay, "Governor General's Awards announced". Welland Tribune, October 1, 2003.
- "Governor General winners honoured for life achievement". Guelph Mercury, September 22, 2004.
- Paul Gessell, "Robbie Robertson, Lorne Michaels among those to win Governor General's Performing Arts Awards". Victoria Times-Colonist, September 20, 2006.
- "Eugene Levy, Tragically Hip to receive performing arts awards". Whitehorse Star, May 2, 2008.
- Maria Cook, "Gross, Lepage receive performing arts awards". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, March 3, 2009.
- Morgan Lowrie, "Buble and Lantos among winners of Governor General's Performing Arts Awards". Canadian Press, April 14, 2016.
- "Surgery delays Buble's NAC prize; Pending vocal cord repair sidelines singer". Ottawa Citizen, May 19, 2016.
- "Bryan Adams and Buffy Sainte-Marie among governor general's recipients". Prince George Citizen, February 24, 2010.
- "William Shatner, Howard Shore win GG Awards". Times & Transcript, March 4, 2011.
- Stephen Hunt, "Rush saluted for four decades of work". Calgary Herald, March 7, 2012.
- "Eric Peterson among laureates for lifetime award". Kamloops Daily News, April 11, 2013.
- Peter Robb, "Six national art laureates to be feted in Ottawa". Edmonton Journal, March 27, 2014.
- Ian McGillis, "Three Montrealers win Governor General's performance awards". Montreal Gazette, April 10, 2015.
- Lynn Saxberg, "And The Awards Go To...; Michael J. Fox headlines list of Governor General winners". Ottawa Sun, March 10, 2017.
- "And your Governor General Performing Arts Awards honourees are ..." Ottawa Citizen, May 31, 2018.
- J. Kelly Nestruck, "Mercer, Feore to receive Governor-General's awards: Killing Eve's Sandra Oh will also be honoured at a gala in April celebrating Canadians in the performing arts". The Globe and Mail, February 28, 2019.
- Ted Raymond, "Canadian star Ryan Reynolds awarded 2021 Governor General's Performing Arts Award". CTV News Ottawa, November 27, 2021.
- Victoria Ahearn, "Ryan Reynolds among 2020 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards winners". Toronto Star, February 27, 2020.
- Brad Wheeler, "David Foster and playwright Tomson Highway among winners of the 2022 Governor-General’s Performing Arts Awards". The Globe and Mail, February 23, 2022.
- J. Kelly Nestruck, "2023 Governor-General’s Performing Arts Awards to honour k.d. lang, Michel Marc Bouchard". The Globe and Mail, February 23, 2023.