The Saskatchewan Arts Board began planning for a review of our Indigenous/Métis Program in January 2017.  The Indigenous Pathways Program currently supports Indigenous/Métis artists and knowledge keepers practicing their art and teachings. 

Going into the review process, we had a number of concerns that needed to be explored.

  • Arts funding agencies, which have researched and developed extensive literature reviews,confirm that Indigenous knowledge and world view must be embedded in this type of programming.
  • We need to move away from Eurocentric terminology such as traditional, contemporary, fine, formal, professional, established, success, disciplines, and accomplishments, and to recognize that many arts forms are not meant to be marketed and that should not, therefore, be the main assessment criterion (i.e. less emphasis on audience, popularity, gallery installations for certain art forms).
  • There is no one way in which Indigenous artists practice traditions. It was important, therefore, that our review engage artists in discussion as to what Indigenous art is and who Indigenous artists are. We needed to draw out respectful consensus toward protocols and historical recognition.
  • Relationships are everything in Indigenous communities, including art making. Family/kinship ties are essential to existence.
  • While the program was originally meant to be a “pathway into the mainstream” it now appears that there is a need for a stronger expansion of Indigenous programming. History and differences in world view make it clear that Indigenous people understand and create, develop and present art differently than other parts of Canadian society.

By reviewing other organizations’ reports and academic research regarding art, it was affirmed that the Saskatchewan Arts Board programming needs to be tailored to fit the needs of Indigenous artists as a growing and unique population that, while contemporary, is very much in tune with its indigeneity, and that this connection shows throughout the work.

Our review of Indigenous programming needed to engage the Indigenous/Métis program artists in the community, gathering and learning the ways in which they feel their art and work can be accommodated through our granting programs in better and more consistent ways.

Read the final review recommendations here