Applications are now open for the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre’s (NACC) mentorship program.

The program has five spots, open to performing artists of all stripes in communities across the Northwest Territories. It’s a two-year commitment designed to help performing artists build a professional career, said Marie Coderre executive and artistic director of NACC.

Marie Coderre, executive and artistic director of the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) in her office. Meaghan Richens/NNSL photo

“It can be theatre, dance, it can be spoken word, music from electronica to hip-hop to classical music,” said Coderre. “It has been definitely diverse over the last seven years.”

Past mentees include artists like Carmen Braden, Digawolf and Juno award-winning Quantum Tangle.

“I’ve been at NACC for seven years and it’s been a real treat to work with different artists,” said Coderre.

Once the artists are selected, NACC works with the mentees to create a personalized action plan.

“It’s not a group program, it’s an individual program with each mentee,” said Coderre.

“So at first I ask them to fill out a form for an action plan with goals set and I evaluate with them where they are at with their career.”

From there, they make a plan for each year of the program. Because not every artist is at the same stage in their career, it’s important to nail down what’s important during that first year, she said.

“If you really want to make a full-time living as a professional artist, then there’s time that you need to invest,” said Coderre.

Each mentee has a $3,000 budget to work with to help build both their artistic practice and their business activities, she said. That includes supports like helping them with CD recording, grant applications, attending arts summits to network and access to communications and promotional tools.

“We can give them training from professional artists via Skype for business and how to develop touring capacity, it can be going to the Banff Centre, booking gigs for showcases,” said Coderre.

NACC also works with festivals across Canada to help artists land real gigs.

“The Northern Scene Series here is in place to give them the opportunity to test and explore new ideas,” she said. “It also gives mentees experience performing in a professional theatre to help advance their career.”

Coderre said she hasn’t seen another program like this in other parts of Canada.

“I’m very proud of it,” she said.

The program is especially important because it allows artists to build a career in the North.

“I think it’s because NACC is the main performing arts institution and we have connections down south and the isolation doesn’t help the artist to stay here,” said Coderre.

Artists in the North simply don’t have the same advantages as they would in a hub like Toronto. But with NACC acting as a liaison between the North and the south, they are connected to more opportunities.

“We don’t want them to move down south after. So they need to have supports and I think NACC can play a big role in that.”

“We need to keep our artistic brains as much as possible in town,” she said.

The application period runs from March 1 until April 1 and Coderre said decisions will be made in mid-April. 

For more information about the program click here.

To apply, click here

Meaghan Richens

Meaghan Richens is from Ottawa, Ont., and grew up in Perth. She moved to Yellowknife in May 2018 after completing her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Carleton University. She writes about politics,...

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