The newly-released NWT Arts Strategy 2021-2031 sets goals of improving GNWT arts programs and services; strengthening education, engagement and leadership in the arts; supporting arts infrastructure; and strengthening the NWT creative sector.

The departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Industry, Tourism and Investment put together the 10-year plan.

“The new strategy was designed to address the concerns we heard from artists across the NWT,” said Johanna Tiemessen, manager of the NWT Arts Council. “We had to ensure there were strong goals but also room within the actions to adapt to new situations and challenges. Regular progress reports and monitoring of measurements will enable us to adapt as needed.”

However, for those like Trevor Sinclair, president of Music NWT, the new road map doesn’t adequately address the impact and needs of the territory’s music industry.

“It’s hard to build a strategy that doesn’t really account for our current situation. For example, how many musicians are in the NWT, recording studios, other industry professionals from agents to managers … and where are they located? And what are their specific challenges? What is our economic impact? What is our contribution to that? It’s probably negligible.

“If you’re trying to set out a strategy in determining your best course of action, the first thing you really need to do is understand where you currently are at,” Sinclair said. “For example, if we’re standing in Edmonton, and our goal is to get to Yellowknife, you’re probably going to pick a strategy to head north. However, if it turns out you’re actually standing in Inuvik and you still employ that strategy, the results are going to be very different.”

Despite some of his views on the 10-year plan, Sinclair said he looks forward to working with those in charge to pursue a beneficial outcome for all parties.

“Within the strategy, there are some plans to help define that better,” he said. “I look forward to that phone call from the GNWT and working with them to establish a better understanding of our (Music NWT’s) economic impact and our current infrastructure that we have in the NWT.”

The start of the NWT Arts Strategy will focus on a review of internal program and services “to better streamline how we support artists across the territory,” Tiemessen said. “Once we have that done, we can continue to work on external growth and continued support as artists grow themselves.”

By addressing artists’ concerns and working with organizations, what does this mean for NWT communities as a whole?

“It will help unify our programs and services to work for the better of the whole sector,” said Tiemessen. “This strategy gives us a solid foundation to work from moving forward, [keeping] us focused and on target within these goals so we have a strong path forward for our programs and services to grow within.”

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