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Canada Council for the Arts comes to Nunavut

Canada Council for the Arts chief executive officer Simon Brault visits Iqaluit Aug. 22 to meet and consult with Nunavut artists as part of a wider Northern tour.

The Canada Council for the Art's chief executive officer Simon Brault is hosting a catered-lunch event in Iqaluit to learn how the granting institution can better serve Nunavut artists.
photo courtesy Canada Council for the Arts

"I came four years ago. It was the beginning of my mandate as the leader of the Canada Council. Since then Canada Council tripled its investment in the arts in Nunavut," said Brault.

"What we want to do is, first, we want to see where things are, how can we better support for the future, but also we want meet as many artists as possible who could be interested by funding and support from the Canada Council. We want, over the next few years, to support more and more artistic projects."

Brault said the granting institution also wants to make sure the way it supports Nunavut artists is responsive to the specific context of the territory, and to adjust and be flexible, to do the right thing.

"We know that the context is quite different if you work on an artist's project in Iqaluit than if you are working on a similar project in Montreal or Toronto," he said.

"We want to support them on their own terms as opposed to us trying to define boxes that they will try to fit in."

Asked about accessibility for Nunavut's other 24 communities, Brault said the Canada Council tries to have as many local partners as possible.

"Because it's very difficult to deal directly from Ottawa. So when we have partners, and it could be the local government, a local arts council, or groups or associations, the better we can do our work," he said.

Of 24 applications to the council in 2017-2019, 12 were green-lit, for a total of $723,559, which accounts for 0.36 per cent of grant monies. Nunavut sits at roughly 0.1 per cent of Canada's population, while having a high number of artists per capita – roughly 33 per cent of the population as compared to 0.78 per cent nationally.

Brault said the council is trying to simplify its application process, as well as have an engaging website and people available to answer questions by phone.

He also said, while staff could easily make the trip North, he wants to see for himself how things are going, hear firsthand what people have to say.

"When I come back, with my team, we'll go back to the drawing board and see what we can improve, what can we do better in the future," Brault said.

Brault also visits Whitehorse and Yellowknife.

The catered-lunch event takes place Thursday at 12:00 p.m. at Inuksuk High School.