Saskatchewan has always had a rich and vibrant cultural sector that encompasses many disciplines including film, interactive digital, theatre, dance, visual arts, writing & publishing, and music. The Saskatchewan NDP has a long history of supporting the arts in this province – from the creation of the Saskatchewan Arts Board in 1948 (the first organization of its kind in North America and second in the world) to more recent developments like providing funding to establish the Canada Saskatchewan Production Studios.
Such initiatives are important because whether it is Brent Butt on television, Louise Bernice Halfe’s books on an English 100 curriculum, Megan Nash in concert, Zoey Pricelys Roy on a national stage receiving an Indspire award, or Joe Fafard’s sculptures in a gallery, Saskatchewan’s artists help to share Saskatchewan’s unique culture with others, both within and beyond our borders.
But the successes of our best-known artists are too often the exception. Many talented but lesser-known artists struggle to earn a decent income or access benefits.
I believe in the principles put forth in the 2006 Status of the Artist report:
- That artists should make a fair living from their work;
- That artists should be treated fairly by government and society as a whole;
- That artists should have economic and social benefits like those available to others;
- That education and training should be widely available;
- That the public should have maximum access to the work of Saskatchewan artists.
Culture has a wide impact across society – people of all ages in all parts of the province are touched by the arts, even when they may not realize it. Over 90% of Saskatchewan people attend cultural events each year — the highest percentage in the country.
Evidence shows that arts and culture make important and necessary contributions to the health of a community and can act as powerful tools for change. Saskatchewan is home of numerous organizations that use the arts to make positive impacts in local communities. Such organizations as N'we Jinan, Girls Rock Saskatoon and Regina, SCYAP, and the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company perform incredibly important and life-enriching work in our communities.
Culture also contributes to our financial wellbeing, with every dollar invested in arts and culture in Saskatchewan delivering a return of nearly 9 dollars to the provincial economy. The cultural sector is a growing industry in rural Saskatchewan. The Yorkton International Film Festival, the Moose Jaw Festival of Words, the Ness Creek Music Festival, the Station Arts Centre in Rosthern, the Shurniak Art Gallery in Assiniboia and many others are examples of accessible opportunities to participate in the cultural life of smaller centres and rural areas.
As leader of the NDP, I would work with umbrella arts organizations including the Saskatchewan Arts Board, SaskCulture, Creative Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance to ensure that our artists and arts & culture organizations receive the support and recognition they deserve.
This means finding a balance between independent funding for the practice and production of art, support to reach markets and share Saskatchewan stories (both across our great province and beyond our borders), and making art and culture available for the enjoyment and edification of the people of the province.
Saskatchewan has a strong tradition of supporting arts and culture. We can build on that reputation and ensure that future generations continue to participate in, enjoy and benefit from Saskatchewan talent and creativity.
- Work with the Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association on a plan for rebuilding and expanding Saskatchewan’s film and television industry, including reintroducing the Film Tax Credit;
- Invest in Artist-in-Residence programs and enhance connections between practicing artists and educators to ensure Saskatchewan children have opportunities for early hands-on exposure to art and culture;
- Strengthen the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s ability to support the development of Saskatchewan artists through grants for artistic creation and production, and skills training in arts entrepreneurship;
- Support Indigenous artists and artisans in the production and marketing of contemporary art and fine craft;
- Increase support to organizations that bring together arts and community development;
- Reestablish “Culture on the Go” funding with an eye to increasing the opportunities for new artists to gain exposure and for established artists to share their work around the province;
- Work with arts funding organizations to offer logistical support to expand rural festivals and ensure their long-term sustainability;
- Facilitate connections with our growing information technology industry to support opportunities for digital art and online promotion of Saskatchewan artists;
- Partner with rural and urban municipalities on the development of infrastructure, including venues for the presentation of art and culture, artist-run centres and “maker spaces” to facilitate mentorship and collaboration;
- Support artists to share and promote their work outside Saskatchewan, increasing their access to markets and sharing our creative output with the world.
If you support Ryan's arts-and-culture policy, please ensure you've got a current NDP membership so you can vote for him for leader and help make these ideas a reality.