Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly changed the way we live and work, and we have all been called to see and imagine the world in different ways. The performing arts sector was hit particularly hard, and with many artists facing an uncertain future, the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund has played a critical role in supporting Canadian artists and companies through these difficult times. In its third year, the Fund has made significant investments in 13 exciting new projects from coast to coast to coast.
Fuelled entirely by donors to the NAC’s Creation Campaign, the National Creation Fund is a catalyst for Canadian artists to take their projects to a new level. Its investments provide the additional time and resources that bold projects in music, theatre, dance and interdisciplinary performing arts need to be successful on the national and international stage.
Many of these projects are based on personal stories: Young People Theatre’s The Darkest Dark, inspired by the internationally best-selling children’s book by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield; choreographer Crazy Smooth’s In My Body, drawn from his feelings of vulnerability as an aging street dancer; Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth, based on her novel of the same name that offers a radical vision of Arctic futurism; and Forgiveness, Hiro Kamagama’s theatrical adaptation of Mark Sakamoto’s award-winning memoir.
“It’s been enormously gratifying to collaborate with a team of Canadian theatre practitioners on Hiro Kanagawa’s adaptation of Mark Sakamoto’s inspirational memoir, Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents. This work is a beacon of light within these turbulent times,” says Forgiveness director Stafford Arima.
“Bringing theatrical storytelling to this true story of adversity and forgiveness will illuminate historical and human conditions, issues that are as relevant today as they were over 70 years ago. This is also a very personal project for me as my father, grandmother, aunts, and uncles were interned in British Columbia during World War II. I believe 2021 is a year of new beginnings and chapters, and I am abundantly excited that Forgiveness is part of this time of developmental awakenings,” he adds.
Others are challenging us to see the world differently, taking on issues of racism, inclusion, and compassion: Backstage at Carnegie Hall uses music to examine generations of racial and class-based trauma; Everything Has Disappeared imagines the impact of a mysterious disappearance of the entire Filipinx global migrant workforce; I Forgive You tells of Scott Jones’s uncommonly early path to forgiveness after a brutal homophobic attack; and Sky Dancers explores the generational impact of the Quebec Bridge disaster of 1907, which killed 33 ironworkers from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake.
“The Quebec Bridge disaster is an important moment in history for my community of Kahnawake and one that is very close to my heart. The support from the National Creation Fund will enable us to attain the production values that actually reflect our vision conceptually, musically, and choreographically. While the COVID-19 restrictions of the last year have been frustrating, they have nonetheless provided more time for the ideas, concepts, and creativity to continue to grow. We are excited that this production allows us to continue to build connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and we eagerly look forward to when we will finally be able to share this work with audiences. Nia:wen,” said Sky Dancers choreographer and director Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo.
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, Centre de Création O Vertigo – CCOV, and many more.
In addition to these 13 new projects, the Fund has also invested in 35 other projects, bringing its total investments over three years to $7.4 million in 48 projects.