Wild visions for a new season

Fogo Island landscape
Creation lounge in Fogo Island © Sarah Conn
Traditional Japanese dancer gracefully performing in a kimono against a neutral grey backdrop.
Bravo Niagara!'s Kimiko's Pearl © Réjean Brandt
In a dark room lit by a few lights, some people are lying down, others are standing up.
Leslie Ting’s What Brings You In © Henry Chan
On a blue background, two people, one with a crocodile's head leaning on a tree and the other wearing a mask and holding a fire-breathing crocodile.
PME-ART’s Survival Technologies © Kamissa Ma Koita
Black and white photo of two people.
Alice Ronfard and Michel Tremblay’s La traversée du siècle © Jérémie Battaglia

New season, new Sarah! In truth, I am not so new… I started as Artistic Associate the day the NCF was born, arriving during a time of big dreams and big questions. The process of bringing the Fund to life was itself pure creation – feeling our way through the unknown, experiencing moments of insight and, of course, moments that required us to adjust. Now, we’re in creation again, as I find my own way to dance in the big shoes of my incredible predecessors Sarah Garton Stanley (SGS) and Heather Moore.  

During a presentation at Zones Théâtrales, Haitian theatre director Guy Régis Jr. said that he makes theatre because he wants to change the world. And as we’re on the topic of Big Dreams, I’d say the same for the NCF. At the centre of our work is a conviction in the power of creation as a means of evolving culture, examining what we believe in, and yes – changing the world. The NAC’s new strategic plan commits deeply to creation and reflects our collective need for it. And we’re excited to put that plan into action through our work.

So – what are we up to?

We continue to champion creation through game-changing investments in bold and ambitious new performance, and through our work as a R+D think and dream space dedicated to questions like:  

What do the artists of this land need to make the art that propels us forward and awakens our imagination? How can we spark work that is not only artistically ambitious but also ambitious in how to support the well-being of our planet? How does creation shape all of our lives, regardless of whether we see ourselves as artists?

These questions sparked the Creation Lounge, an experiment conceived by SGS which I had the pleasure of facilitating in September in collaboration with Fogo Island Arts, an initiative of Shorefast. The Lounge is a place of wild visions and seemingly impossible questions about creation, with no expected output. And for those who are interested in the seemingly unsolvable, Fogo is a reminder that nothing is truly impossible. Filmmaker John Greyson and composer Njo Kong Kie joined me on Fogo to consider their creative unknowns: how to tell the story of a man who disappeared, how to design a process that can hold their singular practices, and how to birth creation in an increasingly austere world. One day we went for a hike, and our guide Lori shared that shifts in tectonic plates thousands of years ago meant that we were walking across a tilted magma chamber. And if that’s not a metaphor for creation… 

Creation and community

John told me that for him, being an artist means creating community. The Fund is powered by a similar sensibility. And speaking of community, we have a pretty great one! Coming up this fall is an incredible season of performances that bring us closer to the impossible.

If you’re in Montreal, I encourage you to join us for the premiere of Porte Parole’s Projet Polytechnique. Kidd Pivot’s newest work Assembly Hall will be crossing the country. Kid Koala’s The Storyville Mosquito continues its incredible touring trajectory with performances at Massey Theatre (New Westminster BC), while Animals of Distinction’s Frontera opens in Abu Dhabi. We are so proud of these artists and the communities they are creating through their work. Check out the Fund’s Season page for a full list of shows that are touring now! 

How can creation nourish our community? I plan to go deeper into this question this year. Community is acknowledged when audiences pick up the controller in asses.masses and play together. It’s celebrated when dancers from across generations move together during Crazy Smooth’s In My Body. It’s extended when Mahabarata travels to the Barbican. And it’s honoured when the artists of Dreaming Roots gather at the Yukon Arts Centre.

I’ve always been fascinated by change: how we individually and collectively instigate and navigate transformation. Perhaps that’s why I love creation so much: I believe creation is a form of change. And we at the Fund are in a period of change! Joyce Rosario, Jiv Parasram and Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser are reaching the end of their terms on our national curatorial team. We are so grateful to them for the incredible support and provocations they have offered over the past two years. Joining our curatorial team now are Karla Etienne, ted witzel, and Darren Fung – all vibrant thinkers and artists. I can’t wait to see what we do together.  We also have a new Acting Artistic Associate! Lucy Coren – dramaturg, creator, creative producer – joins our NCF home team for this next leg of the adventure.   

“I have hope because I’m doing.” This is how Guy Régis Jr. closed his session at Zones Théâtrales, before encouraging us to make theatre that is not afraid. How can we hold both fear and hope? How can we keep doing? Here at the Fund, our goal is to be co-conspirators, sparking and tending to the communities and resources that make new work possible. We hope you’ll come with us as we adventure into these unknowns. 

And if you feel drawn to it – what do you think about creation and community? What works of theatre, music or dance created community for you? I’d love to hear! 

Our new investments

We are so excited to announce our latest investments.

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