FREDERICTON (GNB) – A new initiative has been launched to encourage greater participation by Indigenous artists in the grant programs and workshops available to them.

“This initiative is another great example of co-operation between the provincial government and organizations that support the arts,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Robert Gauvin. “We all aim to promote the improvement of the socioeconomic status of artists in the province, including Indigenous artists, so that they are able to create and make a living from their art. That is why we are proud of this agreement.”

The Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the New Brunswick Arts Board (artsnb) are joining forces to set up this pilot project.

“The Canada Council for the Arts is incredibly proud to partner with the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture and artsnb for this important initiative,” said Steven Loft, director of Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. “We are committed to promoting the self-determination of Indigenous peoples through the arts and culture. We look forward to working with our New Brunswick partners to support local artists and Indigenous organizations.”

As part of this initiative, an outreach officer will help Indigenous artists develop their art and support cultural organizations to strengthen their development capacities.

“We are pleased that Corrina Merasty is returning to her role as an outreach officer to lead this extremely important initiative,” said artsnb president Carol Collicutt. “We sincerely thank the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture for their visionary support of Indigenous artists and cultural organizations in New Brunswick.”

Merasty will visit Indigenous communities and encourage the artists and organizations to apply for grants and help them with the application process.

“It is a pleasure to work with my Indigenous brothers and sisters within New Brunswick,” said George Paul, member of the Circle of Elders at artsnb. “The arts community in New Brunswick is an ever-growing population of mixed cultures and creative minds. I was excited to hear of a new funding arrangement to support artsnb by the Canada Council and the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.”

Initial visits to the Indigenous communities will take place soon.

“This pilot project is an opportunity to build the capacity of the cultural sector by increasing the number of Indigenous artists who have access to artsnb, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture programs,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jake Stewart. “This initiative demonstrates that our government continues to value the traditions, cultures, and identity of the First Nations and is working to enhance their contribution to New Brunswick’s cultural richness.”