The Allan Slaight Awards - $250,000 for the Pursuit of the Impossible

TORONTO, April 20, 2015 /CNW/ - Magicana will distribute, on behalf of the Slaight Family Foundation, $250,000, over five years, to recognize excellence in magic. The Allan Slaight Awards are named in honour of Canadian media mogul and philanthropist, Allan Slaight, and his lifelong passion for and contributions to magic.

"My dad has long loved magic – and still does. As a family, we wanted to recognize his passion by giving something back to the community of artists that inspired it."

Gary Slaight
Slaight Family Foundation

A cross between the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Allan Slaight Awards will be given to performers, writers, and/or creators in five categories: Sharing Wonder (Live or Digital), Sharing Secrets, International Rising Star, Canadian Rising Star, and Lifetime Achievement. The goal is to recognize exceptional performances by exceptional artists.

  • The Sharing Wonder ($15,000) category will recognize the most innovative performance of magic over the past calendar year, either in live performance or a digital medium.

  • Sharing Secrets ($10,000) will recognize the most exceptional creative, innovative or well-presented (live, in print, or digital) works that advance the study of magic as a performing art. The focus will be on the techniques that magicians use, or can use, to advance the work. Works related to the history of magic and its practitioners will also be considered in this category.

  • The International Rising Star ($5,000) award will recognize emerging talent, while a separate award will be given to an emerging Canadian talent ($5,000).

  • A Lifetime Award ($15,000) will recognize a person, company or organization that has demonstrated a commitment to advancing magic as a performing art, and made major contributions to that goal throughout their lifetime.

The word "magic" includes ancillary subjects such as illusions, mentalism and sleight-of hand, and any other branch that can be considered to fall under the broad rubric of magic.

"Magic has been about keeping secrets. Unfortunately, one of those secrets is how creative many of the finest inventors and practitioners of magic can be. The Allan Slaight Awards allow us to recognize great artists at work, on an annual basis, in a medium that usually falls below the radar."

David Ben
Artistic Director, Magicana

The Allan Slaight Awards are international in scope. Magicana will accept submissions from performers, creators, writers, designers, and anyone else with an interest in magic, wherever they reside or perform. One can submit his or her own work for consideration, or the work of any other individual or organization. The portal for submitting works will be added to the Magicana website this summer so that works created in 2015 can be submitted for consideration. 

Magicana will publish and promote a "Long List" of submissions under consideration with, where possible, links to those submissions. A panel of three independent judges will review the Long List in each category, and reduce it to a "Short List" of potential recipients. The judges will then determine a final recipient for each category. Winners will be announced annually.

The inaugural recipients (for work completed in 2014) will be announced in Toronto on June 27, 2015. 


Allan Slaight caught the magic bug early – December 1939 at age eight – after seeing Johnny Giordmaine perform magic at his counter in the Eaton's department store. As Slaight would later recall, it took dynamite to move him from the spot. As a teenager, Slaight fell under the spell of Stewart James, one of the world's most prolific inventors of subtle magic secrets, particularly with playing cards. In the 1940s, still a teenager, Slaight toured Western Canada as "Will Powers", a mindreader, and also as "Slaight & Co", where he presented a larger scale magic show. While his natural talents turned him to broadcasting, where he built up the largest, privately-owned network of radio stations in Canada, his passion for magic never waivered. His magic tricks can be found in most major magic magazines from the past fifty years, and his published works – particularly the 3,000 pages of The James File – rank as some of the most impressive magic publications in the history of magic. Slaight, now in his 80s, continues to study magic, and co-hosts an annual conference, 31 Faces North, featuring some of the world's leading practitioners. 

The Slaight Family Foundation has a rich history of philanthropy, particularly in health care and the arts. They have been long time supporters of Magicana and, in particular, its outreach programs "My Magic Hands" and "Senior Sorcery".  They have also been the primary sponsor of magic programming, developed by Magicana, for Luminato and at Soulpepper.

SOURCE Magicana

Image with caption: "Allan Slaight holding his magnum opus, "The James File". (CNW Group/Magicana)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Magicana (CNW Group/Magicana)". Image available at:

For further information: Julie Eng, Executive Director, Magicana,; David Ben, Artistic Director, Magicana,; MAGICANA, sharing wonder, 17 Madison Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5R 2S2, 416-913-9034,


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