November 29, 2018
In its first year, the National Creation Fund, which helps Canadian artists and arts organizations create ambitious new work, has invested $2,962,000 in 19 projects being developed across the country by some of Canada’s top creators.
‘It’s been incredible to see the results from the National Creation Fund come to life over the past year,” said Heather Moore, the Fund’s Artistic Producer. “We are seeing the kind of excellence and innovation that can happen when Canadian artists and arts organizations have the time and resources they need to take their work to the next level. We expect that these works will resonate with audiences as they start to tour nationally and internationally in the coming months.”
National Creation Fund investments enable workshops, technical residencies, expanded creative teams and casts, and the integration of new technology – elements that help creation projects become fully realized. For example, on December 7, an expanded production of The Hockey Sweater: A Musical by the Segal Centre for Performing Arts (Montreal), and presented by NAC English Theatre, opens in the NAC’s Babs Asper Theatre. Thanks to the Fund, the creative team worked with a dramaturg, had additional development and rehearsal time to incorporate changes, and adjusted the set for future touring.
And on January 9, Electric Company Theatre’s The Full Light of Day, written by Daniel Brooks and directed by Kim Collier, premieres at the Vancouver Playhouse. The National Creation Fund’s investment supported a two-week workshop with the entire creative team and additional rehearsal time. The investment also facilitated the creation of sophisticated, tourable scenery, and supported the company’s exploration of film/theatre hybrids by enabling a fully resourced film and VR shoot. The work also plays at Toronto’s Bluma Appel Theatre June 7-13, presented by the Luminato Festival and Canadian Stage.
The National Creation Fund is made possible through the generous support of donors from across the country to the National Arts Centre Foundation’s Creation Campaign. The NAC is proud to join other partners in creative development, including the Canada Council for the Arts, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and many more.
The following are the five latest projects, which will receive investments totaling $707,000:
FRONTERA (Dana Gingras, Animals of Distinction, Montreal)
This large-scale multimedia dance and music event is led by choreographer Dana Gingras and her company Animals of Distinction. Set in an audio-synchronized field of light and projection created by UK-based United Visual Artists, with live music by Montreal band Fly Pan Am, nine dancers and a Parkour artist fearlessly engage in a choreography that will dynamically investigate the universal themes and questions around borders. FRONTERA is also the first production to be developed through the Centre de Création O Vertigo – CCOV’s long-term residency program.
O’wet (Quelemia Sparrow, Savage Production Society, Vancouver)
Written and performed by Musqueam artist Quelemia Sparrow, O’wet explores the intergenerational effects of colonialism, memory and the reclamation of land and self through a canoe journey of the soul, back to her ancestral land Xway Xway (now known as Stanley Park). Quelemia Sparrow is collaborating with Indigenous filmmaker Amanda Strong, whose stop motion animation work similarly explores blood history and Indigenous ideology. With a sophisticated blend of cinematic and physical theatre, O’wet brings the multi-dimensional creation story of Vancouver to life.
Prison Dancer (Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton)
In 2007, a video of 1,500 inmates in a Philippines prison dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was posted to YouTube and quickly became one of the first viral videos. The “Dancing Inmates of Cebu” are the inspiration behind an ambitious new musical by Filipino-Canadian creators Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus. Over the past several years, they have painted a fictional portrait of the people behind this phenomenon through Prison Dancer, an award-winning transmedia project that includes an interactive web series, a performative cinematic experience, and a cast recording. They are now revisiting their musical Prison Dancer, which will expand this storytelling with an even deeper exploration of these complex characters and their experiences.
SOIFS Matériaux (Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin, UBU compagnie de création, Montreal)
With SOIFS Matériaux, adapted from Soifs, the first book of acclaimed writer Marie-Claire Blais’s fictional cycle, directors Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin wish for this unique voice, which unfolds in long “sequence sentences” of striking beauty and spellbinding power, to be heard directly on stage. Embodied and carried by over twenty actors, this performance unfurls in a great scenic form in which music and images also play key roles, resulting in a vast symphony of modern times. Marie-Claire Blais’ writing is also full of sights and sounds in her kaleidoscopic and sensitive vision of the world, which explores the most intimate dimensions of her characters, as well as the great human, social and political questions they are confronted with.
Svāhā (Nova Bhattacharya, Nova Dance, Toronto)
Svāhā is an epic pageant of dance, chant, and ritual performed by women. At the heart of the work is choreography by Nova Bhattacharya for 15 Indian classical dancers, sharing the stage with a body-choir of 75 performers from Indian dance training programs. With the large cast for Svāhā, Nova Bhattacharya delves into the integration of classical vocabulary with improvised movement, along with elements of body percussion, vocalization and transmission that are inherent to Indian dance.
ARTISTS SPEAK ABOUT THE NATIONAL CREATION FUND
“The support offered by the NAC's National Creation Fund is critical as it allows artists to take risks and move their art form forward in radical ways,” said Dana Gingras, choreographer of FRONTERA. “This support has facilitated the possibility to work with exceptional collaborators, United Visual Artists and musical artists Fly Pan Am. This generous support allows our team to fulfil our artistic vision and create work at a scale that we could not achieve otherwise.”
“We are thrilled that with the National Creation Fund’s investment, we have the opportunity to dive more deeply into developing the authenticity and integrity of our story – integrating the current issues in the zeitgeist into Prison Dancer to make it even more relevant to our cultural climate,” said Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus, creators of the musical Prison Dancer.
“Each creation, every dancer training initiative, and now the investment of the NAC’s National Creation Fund, has led to this juncture: the realization of a grand-scale contemporary work featuring Canadian virtuosos of Indian classical dance,” said Nova Bhattacharya, choreographer of Svāhā. “The NAC’s endorsement is an important affirmation for generations of artists who have nurtured and developed Indian dance forms here.”
YEAR ONE OF THE NATIONAL CREATION FUND
The National Creation Fund was created by the National Arts Centre to address the “creation gap” –the lack of time and resources required for Canadian performing artists and arts organizations to create compelling, ambitious and fully realized new work. The Fund officially opened on November 1, 2017. It invests up to $3 million a year in the development of 15 to 20 compelling and ambitious new Canadian works in theatre, dance, music and inter-disciplinary arts. The Fund selects projects led by Canadian creators that have a strong artistic team, committed producing and presenting partners, and the potential for national and international impact. The Fund invests in research and development, workshopping and residencies of significant new works. It also invests in new works that have had a first run, but that need to go “back into the lab” before they can be remounted and showcased successfully.
In addition to the five new projects announced today, the NAC has also invested in 14 other projects:
Counting Sheep (Mark and Marichka Marczyk, Toronto)
Danse Mutante (MAYDAY, Montreal)
Eve 2050 (Van Grimde Corps Secrets, Montreal)
The Full Light of Day (Electric Company Theatre, Vancouver)
Ghost Opera (The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Calgary)
The Hockey Sweater: A Musical (The Segal Centre for Performing Arts, Montreal)
Mînowin (Dancers of Damelahamid, Vancouver)
Obeah Opera (Asah Productions Toronto)
Le reste vous le connaissez par le cinéma (Carte Blanche, Québec)
Revisor (Kidd Pivot, Vancouver)
The Storyville Mosquito (Kid Koala, Montreal)
Treemonisha (Volcano Theatre, Toronto)
Unikkaaqtuat (The 7 Fingers, Montreal, Artcirq, Igloolik and Taqqut Productions, Iqaluit)
who we are in the dark (Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Toronto)