Whitehorse Daily Star

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ENCOURAGES APPLICANTS – Northerners’ success rate at acquiring Canada Council grants is quite high, says Simon Brault, the Canada Council’s CEO. Photo by MARTIN LIPMAN

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

CREDITS COUNCIL – Master carver Keith Wolfe Smarch, who was awarded a grant from the Canada Council in the 1980s, says the funding launched his career.

Canada Council grants commonly available to northerners

Yukon artists applying for grant funding from the Canada Council of the Arts have an extremely high success rate of up to 60 per cent, thanks to the federal government tripling its investment in northern artists.

By Gabrielle Plonka on August 27, 2019

Yukon artists applying for grant funding from the Canada Council of the Arts have an extremely high success rate of up to 60 per cent, thanks to the federal government tripling its investment in northern artists. 

“People have the sense that (applying for funding from) Canada Council is difficult or too competitive, and we need to debunk those ideas,” said Simon Brault, the Canada Council’s CEO. “The success rate is quite high.” 

This week, Brault wrapped up a 14-day tour of the North that began in Whitehorse on Aug. 12 and spanned eastward to Yellowknife and Iqaluit. The focus of the visit was to meet artists who have received funding and investigate how the council might better support the three territories.

“The point of the trip … is to support artists on their own terms, taking into consideration what the context is,” he said.

“The differences are huge in the North. The scale of the work is different and the expenses are different.”

On Aug. 13, Brault travelled to Carcross and met with master carver Keith Wolfe Smarch. The latter received a grant from the Canada Council in the 1980s, funding he said launched his career.

Since then, he has recommended that other artists in his community apply.

“I think we need more funding in the North,” Wolfe told the Star. “Cost of living and cost of materials are different up here.”

Smarch said he purchases wood for carving from the Mt. Terrace region of B.C.

The logs are becoming increasingly expensive to purchase and ship to the Yukon because loggers have increased sales overseas. Inaccessibility of materials is a common struggle for northern artists, Wolfe explained.

More than 30 years after his first Canada Council grant, Smarch said Brault arrived in Carcross knowing Smarch as a funding recipient.

“I was really impressed that they came, and saw all the work that I’ve been doing. It was nice to have them show the interest,” Smarch said.

Mark Doucette, the manager of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation Learning Centre, received a grant from the Canada Council more recently on behalf of the centre. The funding went toward a canoe project in the community.

“The process for somebody (applying) for the first time was a little bit daunting, but manageable,” Doucette told the Star. 

“There are so many great artists in the Yukon, with Canada Council making an effort to come up here and meet people, they’re looking to help artists. There’s a lot of opportunities.”

Doucette said he has worked to convince other artists in Carcross to apply and offered his help with filling out the application.

Brault told the Star that artists applying for funding should have a project idea at the ready. Performing arts, visual arts and literature projects will all be considered.

“The more a project contributes to an artistic legacy that connects to the community, the more the project has a chance,” Brault said.

An articulated vision is key, Brault said.

Artists should have an idea of cost, contributors and timeline when applying. The initial planning phase can be done with very little cost to the artist.

On top of being the Canada Council’s CEO, Brault chairs the International Federation of Arts Councils, a global network with institutions in more than 70 countries.

Brault hopes to pass on his knowledge of supporting artists in rural northern areas to countries like Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

“Our mandate is to support the working artist,” he said. “The more we can learn in our respective countries, the more we can share.”

Brault told the Star he was impressed with what he saw in the Yukon.

“I felt a sense of confidence and strength, particularly from Indigenous artists,” Brault said.

“I feel there’s a spirit of some kind of renaissance. I think the world will pay attention to what is created here.”

Comments (2)

Up 11 Down 4

Josey Wales on Aug 28, 2019 at 12:36 am

Hmmm...but we have no extra for veterans that need help?
Or so the soyboy in chief says?
But triple the regular for artists, heaps more for fresh imports too legal or not?
Waive steel tariffs for China even too, WHILST they hold our citizens captive....wow team Red...
Maybe we can teach our homeless veterans interpretive dance, so they can keep warm during the winter.

Folks please vote these fools outta office and into 4th party standing.

Up 11 Down 3

jc on Aug 27, 2019 at 8:27 pm

More Liberal vote buying. Larry Claus coming down the tax payers chimney again.

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