Caitlin Cleveland: Strengthening GNWT Supports for NWT Artists

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — June 6, 2024

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Mr. Speaker, art is powerful and art is beautiful, but it is far more than a thing of beauty. Art is a personal, local, and global connector. It connects people to themselves, to one another, and to people living across the world. Further, it connects us to culture, land, and Elders and is critical to our well-being and to our shared and individual histories. Art is a conduit of healing. Art is foundational to how we educate our children, preserve traditions, feed community wellness, and build a strong and independent territory.

The arts sector plays a valuable role in the NWT, not only for its own sake but also by upholding a diverse economy that provides artists with employment choices and income opportunities. With such a vast territory, artists are supported across all disciplines, from fine crafts to jewelry, from spoken and written word to film productions, all of which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

As part of our mandate, this government committed to making GNWT programs and services more accessible to NWT residents through person-centred approaches that prioritize ease of access for residents over ease of administration.

The decision to realign the various programs that serve the arts sector so that they are housed in one place, within the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, is one way to deliver on this promise.

This action brings supports for NWT artists of all types under one department for a single point of contact, rather than spread between staff at different departments. I expect this work to build more capacity to deliver arts programs and result in a better service experience for all artists. Artists will no longer need to navigate multiple government departments to access funding, resources, and assistance.

To ensure a smooth transition for artists and staff, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment are developing a structured change management process that ensures the full transfer of knowledge and processes. The departments are committed to advancing this change with input from all staff while maintaining open communication.  

Mr. Speaker, this shift excites me as it not only creates an easy-to-access single service window for resident artists, but also because it allows the government to more effectively leverage the economic opportunities presented to the arts sector. The arts sector represents a significant component of the Northwest Territories economy, cultural industries added up to over $100 million in gross domestic product in 2022. This number is likely an underestimate to the extent that some people involved in arts and culture do not formally identify as artists.

Promoting the arts with a unified voice is expected to create more opportunities for more artists to showcase their creativity to the world. Indigenous artists are gaining recognition and demand worldwide as they reach new audiences and sell their work to new consumers online. The film sector, in particular, has great potential to bring the North to the world and bring the world to the world and shows the linkages between arts and tourism. Partnerships between artists and the tourism sector can lead to innovative cultural experiences for visitors, while collaborations with the film industry can promote the NWT as a filming destination. Such strategic collaborations will maximize the economic and cultural impact of the arts sector.

Mr. Speaker, by placing supports for artists in one spot, our government is empowering our public service and providing flexibility to deliver programs and services that work for residents. I look forward to sharing more details on these changes later this year. As we move forward, let us reaffirm our commitment to championing our arts sector to reach its full creative, cultural, and economic potential.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.