10/17/2012 01:50 EDT | Updated 12/17/2012 05:12 EST

$25K MOCCA Award honours arts patrons Partners in Art

Partners in Art, a philanthropic group that supports and champions Canadian visual art, is the newest winner of the $25,000 MOCCA Award.

The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art announced the Toronto-based group as the latest recipient of the biennial honour, sponsored by BMO Financial Group, on Wednesday.

"The very name — Partners in Art — embodies a spirit of active collaboration towards the creation of culture: an objective that is also at the core of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art's mandate and mission," MOCCA artistic director David Liss said in a statement.

Throughout its 10-year history, Partners in Art — a group of about 75 dedicated arts patrons — has raised and distributed more than $800,000 to support Canadian artists both nationally and internationally, MOCCA said.

Its membership actively cultivates alliances among artists, curators, arts institutions, educators, the private sector and the general public to raise awareness of and funding for contemporary Canadian art projects. The Art Gallery of Ontario's artist-in-residence program is one of the initiatives that PIA helped launch.

"We are honoured to receive this prestigious award," said PIA co-chairs Yvonne Fleck and Mimi Joh.

"We're proud to say that since our beginning 10 years ago, PIA has helped change the contemporary Canadian art scene by forging a type of patron involvement that includes a collaboration of ideas and an active engagement with chosen institutions like MOCCA. We look forward to creating future collaborations in the years to come."

Established in 2007, the MOCCA Award honours either an individual active in visual arts for innovation, accomplishment or artistic contribution, or a specific project with national or international significance. Past recipients have included artist Michael Snow, AGO CEO Matthew Teitelbaum and photographer Edward Burtynsky.

MOCCA officials will official present the award to Partners in Art at a gala on April 13, 2013 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.