Thursday, May 1, 2003

SAA Bulletin

May 2003

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New Email Address
Sask. Arts Alliance has a new email address: info@artsalliance.sk.ca. Please remember to change your address book.

Dates to Watch For…
SAA Annual General Meeting: September 20, 2003 in Saskatoon
2004 Arts Congress: May 7th & 8th, 2004 in Saskatoon.

Membership Renewal
All SAA memberships are due for renewal on May 31st. In the next week, you will receive a renewal notice in the mail. If you are not a member already, we encourage you to become one. Call the SAA at 780-9820 or email us at info@artsalliance.sk.ca.

2003 Arts Congress
The 2003 Arts Congress was held in Regina on May 2nd and 3rd. 100 people gathered to discuss the Congress theme, Valuing the Arts in the Community.

Gordon Tootoosis, well-known theatre, film, television, and radio-drama actor kicked off the Congress with the luncheon address. Tootoosis spoke about his own career, his work as an artist, and developments he has seen in his art form. He also spoke about his personal commitment to supporting the arts and young artists in his community and his belief in the role of the arts in healing.

Stories of the Art, in which artists from various disciplines speak about their lives as artists, is popular with Congress delegates. Artist who spoke this year were Marnie Badham, visual artist and community activist; Alan Denike, musician, music director and teacher; Tina Hannah, writer and member of the Survivors Writing Group; Neal Mcleod, independent filmmaker, writer, and visual artist; Michele Sereda, actor and artistic director of Curtain Razors; and Krista Solheim, dance artist.

A new feature of the Congress was the "conversations" between people from the arts community and politicians. The first conversation was between Premier Lorne Calvert and Ruth Smillie, Artistic Director of Globe Theatre. Smillie talked about the successes of Saskatchewan's arts community and noted that it was in part the result of the vision of those who were responsible for establishing the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Premier Calvert discussed his commitment to a vibrant arts community in this province and his commitment to re-establish the role of the artist and the arts in the province as a central theme of his government. He pointed to initiatives such as Status of the Artist Act as signs of this commitment.

To the delight of Congress delegates, Premier Calvert announced that he has asked the Department of Culture, Youth and Recreation to find new funding for the Saskatchewan Arts Board at a minimum of $1.5 million dollars by the province's centennial in 2005. He explained that the funds were linked to the centennial because he believes that it will be a celebration of cultural reality, and "we cannot celebrate who we are without celebrating the artist in our midst". Calvert went on to say that there are other opportunities for the arts that go beyond the announced funding in which government might participate.

On speaking about ensuring support from government, Calvert urged the arts community in all areas of the province to establish good relations with elected officials to ensure that they are acquainted with what is happening with the arts in the province. We musn't assume that elected officials are aware of our activity.

The second conversation between Kim Houghtaling, Art Gallery of Swift Current Director and Curator, and Bob Jamieson, Swift Current City Councillor discussed valuing the arts at the municipal level. Kim described the arts and culture activity that goes on in Swift Current and some of the relationships that have been made with the business community when developing projects. The City of Swift Current supports the core mandate of the gallery, providing a basis for him to take on new ventures. These self-sufficient ventures establish positive relations with the business community and build a greater audience. Houghtaling described his strategy to gain support from the city and its residents as trying to "overwhelm the community with the significance of arts activity". Bob Jamieson spoke about the need for greater and better communication between elected officials and the arts community so that the officials understood the value of a thriving arts community to the greater community.

Following the conversations, there was a discussion with Smillie, Houghtaling and Jamieson, moderated by Gursh Madhur of Access Communications.

Linda Wedman, co-founder and CEO of The Works International Visual Arts Society in Edmonton, gave the keynote address. Wedman discussed arts as a catalyst for human development using The Works Society as a case study. The Works Society has provided Edmonton with leadership in community development through the establishment of various multi-partner initiatives including The Works Art & Design Festival. The Festival is a partnership-driven initiative that draws on the support of Edmonton's Downtown Business Association and brings together a host of community businesses, people and organizations. In 1994, the Society established a new council, Edmonton's Business Council for the Visual Arts to help expand working relationships between the arts and business communities. Wedman's parting advice to us was: to celebrate locally; work with youth; develop venture philanthropy; and focus on results not needs, on investment not institutional urgency, and to seek support not because you have needs but because you meet needs.

Commending the arts community on its advocacy work over the last year, Hon. Joanne Crofford, Minister of Culture, Youth and Recreation spoke with pride about her department's commitment to arts and culture in the province and in particular its recent initiatives. Crofford announced the release of the Progress Report of the Minister's Advisory Committee on the Status of the Artist and invited the community to engage in a dialogue with the Advisory Committee and herself about the recommendations that have come forward so far. Crofford reported that changes have been made in the government's procurement practises as a direct result of the Advisory Committee and the work they are doing. (The Progress Report is posted on Culture, Youth and Recreations website at www.cyr.gov.sk.ca/ index.cfm?page=17. Scroll down the page and click on progress report. See also the SAA website for background information www.artsalliance.sk.ca

In the session Innovative Arts/Community Partnerships, people involved in artist in residency projects with the Northern Lights School Division (NLSD) spoke from their own points of view about the challenges and benefits of having artists in schools: Kennetch Charlette, Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company artistic director talked about arts as empowering, building self-esteem. Rod MacIntyre, an artist-in-residence with the Artist in the Schools pilot initiative supported by Sask. Arts Board, Sask. Learning and SaskCulture, spoke about the thrill of working with the students and the varying responses he has received from teachers in the schools in which he has been working. Bruce Decoux, deputy director, NLSD spoke about the importance of arts in schools and the need to spend time with school boards to talk about this importance. Debby Noble, arts education consultant with NLSD spoke about her organizational role in running the programs and the need to value and validate projects. Jane Laxdal, teacher at Pinehouse Lake recounted how the arts projects broaden the students' notion of the world and its possibilities, providing a positive impact on student's self-esteem. The session was chaired by Craig Melvin, executive director of the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association.

Jack Walton moderated the consultation with Jeremy Morgan and Lyndon Tootoosis (Saskatchewan Arts Board), Rose Gilks and Herman Slotsve (SaskCulture). Both organizations described their relationship as being respectful and friendly. They discussed shared programs such as the Artist in Residence program and the recently formed advocacy committee which also includes the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance. Questions asked of the two organizations ranged from tourism initiatives to issues around access and targeted activity.

Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, in its consultation, gave an overview of the past year's activity and plans for the provincial election campaign. Delegates reviewed a document that will form the basis of upcoming SAA advocacy work. Advocacy strategies were discussed and the delegates endorsed the proposed advocacy platform.

Brenda Niskala was the 2003 Arts Congress raconteur. As she reviewed the high points and themes of the two days, she noted that the idea of "spirit" was a theme that recurred throughout the Congress. People were positive about their lives as artists and cultural workers and often talked about Saskatchewan as a nurturing and safe place, that where there isn't success, there is hope and it is something we are all willing to work towards. She also noted that we are measuring our success by how people in the community are helped and that we need to learn the language necessary to communicate with other sectors. Overall, Niskala said that the strongest theme of the Congress was that the community is moving and thinking forward.

Special thanks to Lori Green, President and Allen Lefebvre, Past President for hosting the two day event. Thanks also to the Congress Committee: Lori Green (Chair), Dennis Garreck, Marnie Gladwell, Donna Heimbecker, Allen Lefebvre, Jack Walton and Dianne Warren, and to Shelley Sopher, Congress Coordinator.

SAA Board of Directors
Lori Green, President
Allen Lefebvre, Past President
Skip Kutz, Vice-President
Jill Reid, Secretary
Brenda Niskala, Treasurer
Maria Campbell
Patrick Close
Sandra Grismer
Donna Heimbecker
Kim Houghtaling