Shuttered theatres and cancelled performances bit into artists’ budgets this month.

To help support musicians enduring tough times, the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) is aiming to raise $16,000 by April 8. That money will be split evenly among all eight of the artists under its mentorship program, the centre said in a March 25 news release.

As the centre reels from cancellations in the wake of the virus, local artists under its mentorship program also need help, it said.

“NACC is feeling the hit from the cancellations, yes. But, our performers need your help first,” the centre said on its online fundraising page, where it had raised $1,175 as of noon Tuesday.

Crook the Kid is one of the artists listed under the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre’s mentorship program.
Photo Courtesy of the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre

For those who won’t be able to donate money, the centre encouraged sharing the artists’ work, and asking friends and family to offer support.

“During this social distancing we feel the absence of live performances more than ever,” the centre said in a news release.

Artists in the program are: Karen Novak, aMoral house of cards (JD Hollingshead), Kiera-Dawn Kolson, Wesley Hardisty, Martin Rehak, Crook The Kid, MIRAJ and Miranda Currie.

One of those musicians, hip hop artist Crook the Kid, also known as Dylan Jones, was planning a European tour at the end of next month when the pandemic cancelled his plans.

“That would have been something for sure,” Jones said. He added there’s tentative plans to reschedule for September, “but no one really knows what’s happening.”

He imagined all the artists on the list had concerts and showcases planned, but everything is now on hold due to the pandemic.

The fundraiser was a surprise to him, but he said it’s important to support Northern artists.

“It’s quite difficult for us to get from gig to gig, from paying event to paying event,” he said, adding the challenge was only heightened as the effects from the pandemic progressed.

Selling music to family and friends in the NWT isn’t enough to make a living, he said. That means professional musicians are forced to travel to promote their work. Even recording music at a professional studio requires travel to a major city, now more or less curtailed until restrictions are lifted.

“It’s almost like everything’s on pause right now,” Jones said.

That can be a hurdle for a musician aiming to build traction and momentum while finding an audience, he said. A regular schedule of shows, press, and recording new music is all on hold.

“So I’m kind of at a complete loss, wondering what’s next,” he said.

He considered following in the steps of other musicians who’ve performed on online streams and videos, but he was unsure.

Comforts like music can take a backseat when people face uncertainty or difficult times, he suggested. Jones, who has four children, said questions about income and family welfare naturally arise. Seeking out new music may not always be top of mind, he said.

Planning to head out on the land with his family, Jones said he’s not aiming to produce any new music for the time being.

“Great art and great music comes (out of times like this),” Jones said, “but it’s generally not until they’re over.”

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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