Arts patron Vida Peene made a bequest to the Canada Council for the Arts in 1978. Each year a portion of the income from the Vida Peene Fund, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, is transferred to the Ontario Arts Council to be divided equally. The award supports orchestras in Ontario and the acquisition of Canadian paintings by the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
A jury composed of members of the OAC's Orchestras program's advisory panel selects the award recipient from applicants to the OAC Orchestras program.
The Ontario Arts Council manages the selection process.
The OAC Awards Office does not accept unsolicited nominations for this award.
Vida H. Peene (1898-1978), patron of the arts, was born in Hamilton, Ontario. A graduate of the University of Toronto and the Ontario College of Art, Peene was a patron and supporter of the arts throughout her life. During World War II she was Commandant of the Food Administration Section of the Red Cross Corps, Toronto Detachment, and actively promoted and raised funds for the arts in general.
After the war, Peene served on numerous cultural organizations at the executive level. She was director of the National Ballet of Canada (1955-1958), an original member of the Canada Council (1957-1961), president of the Dominion Drama Festival (1962-1964), director of the Canadian Music Centre (1964-1970), and a member of the executive committee of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (1960-1968).
In 1964, she received the Civic Award of Merit for distinguished services to the City of Toronto and the Central Drama League Award. She was the first person in Canada to represent the arts in all three levels of government. Peene was awarded the Centennial Medal in 1967 and the Order of Canada in 1970; from 1968 to 1970 she was appointed by the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Council to the Board of Management of the O'Keefe Centre.