The NWT arts community has been hit hard in recent months, but for Yellowknife musician Carmen Braden, “having a strong and supported artistic community is essential to humanity.”
Braden is scheduled to play Saturday in a live-streamed concert from the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) stage. She describes her music as “a bit quirky,” and hopefully touching on things people can relate to. She aims to showcase a different perspective on “the simple things in life.”
On how she’s coping during the pandemic, Braden says she’s adapting – “as everyone has had to.” In the performing arts, Braden says, the work has been either hyper-local, like the recent Buskers in the Bush festival, or online.
In any case, she says she always tries to perform as if she’s in front of a live audience.
“I don’t really know any other way to play and I think any other attempt to play would be, probably, a little disingenuous and would do a disservice to the music,” she says.
Even as she adapts and learns to play for different kinds of audiences, Braden says she’s grateful that NACC has continued to be creative and find new ways to support artists.
“They’ve been a real champion for a lot of Northern musicians this summer,” she says.
NACC executive director Marie Coderre emphasizes the importance of having a thriving arts scene, even in what she describes as “a completely different reality.”
“It’s mental health,” she says. “Arts prevent populations from going into depression mode.”
She says it’s important for people to have creative outlets and to use the arts as a way of forming connections despite our current state of seclusion. Arts could be almost anything for any demographic of people, she explains.
“Everybody needs to be creative. (The arts) make people dream, and encourage them to be motivated,” says Coderre. “It’s important that we don’t forget about them.”
While NACC worked hard to support the arts over the summer, Coderre says September will be quieter as they work to re-evaluate their plans and budget.
Saturday’s show is free for virtual concert-goers, and can be accessed through the Northwestel Community channel, Western Arctic Moving Picture’s or NACC’s Facebook pages, or NACC’s YouTube channel. The performance is slotted from 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
“Through any crisis, everything kind of gets magnified,” Braden says. “When you have problems, those problems are amplified. But when you have strengths, those strengths are what becomes so important to get you through.”
“Art is a strength for humanity, and in times of crisis, the strengths are what we need.”