It has been an exciting month for the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) with the announcement of two partnerships to support Indigenous artists throughout the North—one with the Government of Yukon and one with the Inuit Art Foundation (IAF).
During the Arctic Arts Summit in Whitehorse, Yukon, which ran from June 27–29, the CCA and the Yukon government announced a two-year pilot project that will support Indigenous artists in the territory. Through the project, $50,000 in funding will be distributed to artists in the first year and $150,000 in the second year. The project will also create and hire an Indigenous outreach position in the Yukon who will in turn assist Indigenous artists to apply for funding and develop their careers.
CCA Director and CEO Simon Brault, Yukon's Minister of Tourism and Culture, Ranj Pillai, and CCA Chair Jesse Wente officially signed the agreement at the firepit at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre on June 29.
The partnership stemmed from the federal government’s arms-length funding body and the Government of Yukon co-hosting the Arctic Arts Summit, an in-person event bringing together artists and representatives of Arctic countries and the Indigenous Nations of the Circumpolar region with the purpose of strengthening arts and culture in the North.
“I'm thrilled to see yet another groundbreaking co-delivery initiative honouring Indigenous cultural sovereignty by supporting new artists and cultural carriers where they live and work. This new form of project delivery with the Government of Yukon will help the Council support the artists on their own terms,” said Simon Brault in a Yukon government press release.
On June 15, the CCA and the IAF announced their partnership in the delivery of a new national Inuit-specific funding pilot initiative, which will distribute over $100,000 over the course of the first year. Through this initiative, the CCA will support the IAF in working with Inuit communities to create the multidisciplinary granting pilot program —a vital component of the creation process.
“Over the past few years we have made great strides in representation for Inuit within arts administration, but for the Inuit Art Foundation to be a part of this funding model is a huge leap towards Inuit self-determination. Artists will be free to express themselves with less market pressures and I am excited to see how this further shapes the evolution of Inuit art,” said IAF Strategic Initiatives Director Heather Campbell in a statement.
The CCA and the IAF are committed to ensuring that the needs of Inuit artists are at the forefront of shaping the program so that it will support Inuit artists in the ways they need and will create opportunities in both the public and private art spheres. By working with the communities and listening to their feedback, the CCA and the IAF are committed to creating a funding program that will foster and support Inuit artists and their growth.
Both the partnership with the Yukon government and the IAF will support Indigenous artists, provide them with opportunities to grow their practices and work to break down systemic barriers often faced by Indigenous artists. The funding will also allow Indigenous artists to focus on making their art rather than relying on commercial-market trends.