Saye Sky wins Inaugural TELUS Newcomer Artist Award

TORONTO – Saye Sky, a spoken word artist and LGBTQ rights activist has won the inaugural TELUS Newcomer Artist Award, a $10,000 award.

A Vision Award of Toronto Arts Foundation, and administered by the Neighbourhood Arts Network, this award celebrates a newcomer artist in the City of Toronto, with an outstanding body of work, making a contribution in their community. Through its research, Toronto Arts Foundation identified a great need to support newcomer artists in Toronto. This award is an exceptional way to celebrate their accomplishments.

Saye Sky is an Iranian spoken word artist and LGBTQ rights activist. As a lesbian she experienced first-hand the oppression and violence against the queer community in Iran, and started to write poetry and spoken word about women, children, and LGBTQ rights at the age of 13. In 2009, she recorded and released her first single in Iran, Shadow of an Iranian Woman, the first Iranian song about lesbian rights and their protracted struggle for freedom in Iran. She was consequently put at great risk by political authorities and forced to flee and seek refuge in Turkey. She was granted asylum in Canada in March 2011. Despite these struggles, Saye is driven to continue writing music after receiving considerable positive feedback from the Iranian community around the world. With her powerful lyrics, Saye Sky strives to raise awareness and inspire Iranians in Iran and the Iranian diaspora to advocate for freedom, equality, and dignity for all in Iran. She regularly performs for the Iranian-Canadian community and LGBTQ community in Toronto.

“My goal is to make my music appeal to the Iranian community, primarily, as well as international audiences that enjoy social justice-inspired music” said Sky. “In a time when Iran is highly criticized by media and the international community, it is essential for the Iranian diaspora to create an alternative narrative about our people, history, values, and struggles. With my music, I am bringing human rights issues to the forefront to foster a growing movement for women and LGBTQ rights in Iran.”

“Saye’s work and commitment to her community really stood out amongst the many applications we received this year” said Ella Cooper, Manager, Neighbourhood Arts Network. “Her work is challenging. Vibrant. Dynamic. And is a powerful testament to the drive for human rights. We are thrilled to celebrate her and her achievements today.”

For spotlights profiling this year’s slate of six (6) finalists please visit the Neighbourhood Arts Network at:

Toronto Arts Foundation

Toronto Arts Foundation is a charitable organization that provides the opportunity for individuals, private and public foundations, corporations and government agencies to invest in and strengthen the arts in Toronto. We are powered by a vision: Creative City: Block by Block, a commitment to connect every Toronto neighbourhood to the transformative social and economic benefits of the arts. Through sponsorships, legacy gifts and donations to our Creative City Funds, Toronto Arts Foundation gives voice to the arts, shines the spotlight on Toronto’s exceptional talent, and connects communities to the arts. To learn more about the Toronto Arts Foundation, please visit our website at

Neighbourhood Arts Network

Neighbourhood Arts Network is a strategic initiative of Toronto Arts Foundation. With over 1,000 members to date, we create online resources, partnerships and professional development events that help community engaged artists and organizations do what they do best: enrich Toronto and transform it into a more vibrant and livable city. For more information please visit:


TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a leading national telecommunications company in Canada, with $11.2 billion of annual revenue and 13.2 million customer connections, including 7.7 million wireless subscribers, 3.3 million wireline network access lines, 1.4 million Internet subscribers and 743,000 TELUS TV customers. Led since 2000 by President and CEO, Darren Entwistle, TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment and video. In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed more than $300 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered 4.8 million hours of service to local communities since 2000. Fourteen TELUS Community Boards lead TELUS’ local philanthropic initiatives. TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition. For more information about TELUS, please visit



Jason Maghanoy, Manager Community Investment, 416 392 6802 x204.