Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Healthy state of the arts in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Arts Board is a model for others to emulate. Knowing the arts feed the soul of the community, it nourishes artists. For 29 years, Sage Hill Writing has used the Board's support well. Along with many young writers, 1000 adult alumnae have published over 650 books. Many return to Sage Hill as instructors.

A recent innovation is the Micro-Grant. Each month, practitioners in under-served areas can apply for a thousand dollars to support a very specific work or practice of art. Saskatchewan is a province with many small towns, and these grants support a variety of artists, especially those outside the cities. One recent young recipient was the North Battleford musician Cole Knutson.

The rurally raised novelist and poet Robert Kroetsch, who both benefited from and supported the Arts Board, spent many sessions at Sage Hill. In this year's Kroetsch Keynote, CanLit specialist and woman of letters Tanis MacDonald spoke of how daunting it can be for artists from small places to value and develop their own work.

The CCF government led by Tommy Douglas, Saskatchewan's legendary premier, supported the arts and led the way where other provinces would follow. Founded in 1948, the Saskatchewan Arts Board is the second oldest Arts Council in the world. The Arts Council of England was created two years earlier, in 1946.

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