New Arts Initiatives

By: The Hon. Patricia Bovey

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Grizzly bear, Yukon Territory

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, before we rise for the summer, and our work in the regions begins, I want to update you on several initiatives from over the past year. They are exciting and empowering. One provides Inuit art and artists with new opportunities. Another will give Canada’s Black artists new exposure to audiences and profile at home and abroad.

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Yesterday, on Indigenous Peoples Day, the Inuit Art Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts made a groundbreaking announcement. Together, after years of Inuit artists’ lacking equal access to the funding opportunities of southern artists, a much-needed, national, Inuit-specific, multidisciplinary granting pilot program has been developed in the spirit of self-determination.

Launching next winter, 2022-23, it will support the Inuit Art Foundation’s work with Inuit communities throughout Inuit Nunangat and in the south. Distributing over $100,000 in its first year, it will assist Inuit artists in every aspect of their careers, self-expression and self-determination across disciplines. It will increase access to and awareness of artists’ work in both private and public milieus. It will give greater access to art markets at home and abroad. The project also offers capacity-building opportunities for Inuit program officers and assessment juries. Inuit community feedback will ensure artists’ needs will be met. Inuit art was Canada’s face abroad for years. I am delighted it will be again.

Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts, said:

. . . Inuit artists, we intend to enable the pursuit of sustainable careers in arts and culture and to contribute to capacity building within communities across Canada.

Another major initiative grew from the work of Canada’s Black content steering committee for Canada’s participation in the Pan African Heritage Museum, opening in Ghana next year. A newly formed collective, Canadian Black Artists United, is launching its inaugural event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg this Sunday.

Artist Yisa Akinbolaji, whose work was in the Senate’s first Honouring Canada’s Black Artists presentation, is their inspiration. I am honoured to be their guest speaker. The leadership of Black artists from across this country who work in all disciplines and with whom I have been working closely these past several years has been stellar. Canada’s contributions to the virtual and actual exhibitions of the Pan African Heritage Museum will be exciting, honest, challenging and innovative, as they look to the past, present and future.

Colleagues, I thank all involved in both these initiatives for their dedication, tenacity and vision as they ensure these empowering steps to more equitable and sustainable careers.

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