Saskatchewan Arts Board

Saskatchewan Arts Board. Autonomous provincial arts-subsidy board established 3 February 1948, the first agency of its kind in Canada (and, it is claimed, in North America) to have an annual allocation of funds received from government sources but disposable independent of government control.

From its inception the Arts Board has worked to encourage greater participation in the arts throughout the province, and to support and encourage professional activities. The Arts Board provides funding through grants programs, offers consultation services in areas such as community and organizational development, and manages a large collection of art objects created by Saskatchewan artists. At least one-third of the 15-member board is chosen from a list of nominees submitted by the arts community. Members are officially appointed by the Lieutnant Governor-in-Council on an annual basis. The board reports to the province's minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Arts Board.

Board meetings, at least two a year, have been held to refine arts policies and evaluate grant applications, sometimes with the advisory assistance of panels of arts professionals. The board's annual provincial allocation of monies has been supplemented by earned revenues and donations. In 1948 the budget was $2500; in 2003 it exceeded $5 million, more than two-thirds of it disbursed in grants.

The board established a Young Artists and Concert Series in 1950, following a successful tour of the province by the pianist Thelma Johannes O'Neill. Gordon Hancock, appointed 1958, was director of the series for some time. All the cultural projects for the province's 1955 golden jubilee celebrations - including a composition competition and the presentation of Neil Harris' musical Saskatchewan Ho! - were planned by the board. In 1965 it assumed responsibility for the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association. It sponsored the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, held annually 1962-89 at the Echo Valley Centre near Fort Qu'Appelle.

The board offers several funding opportunities to individual performers, composers and musical organizations. These include the Artist in Residence Grant Program, the Individual Assistance Grant Program, the Project Assistance Grant Program, the Global Grant Program, and the Traditional Arts Grant Program. Among groups that have received such assistance are the Greystone Singers, Groundswell, the John Arcand Fiddle Festival, Orchestra Villaticus, the Regina Symphony Orchestra and Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Saskatoon Chamber Music Society, the Saskatoon Chamber Singers, the Saskatchewan Choral Federation, the Saskatchewan Junior Concert Society, Strings Across the Sky, and the Moose Jaw International Band Festival. In 2003, the Saskatchewan Arts Board provided more than $500,000 in grants to composers, performers and musical organizations.

The Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils (founded 1974) also has received support. In September 1969 at Fort San the board organized a panel discussion which resulted in the report 'The status of the professional musician in Saskatchewan.' In 1977 the Board began publication of the newsletter Saskatchewan Arts. In 1978, in co-operation with the Canada Council's Touring Office, it sponsored Contact Saskatchewan, a showcase for the province's performers. That same year it published Contact Saskatchewan: A Directory for the Performing Arts.

To mark its 40th anniversary in 1988 the board established its Annual Lifetime Award for Excellence in the Arts, which consists of a bronze bust of Ernest Lindner (a founding member of the Board) sculpted by Regina artist Joe Fafard. The first recipients were David Smith, Norah McCullough, Ernest Lindner (posthumously), Lea Collins, Dr William A. Riddell, and W.O. Mitchell.

The government reaffirmed its commitment to the Arts Board in 1998 with The Arts Board Act, 1997. In 2003, to commemorate the Province's Centennial Year, the Government of Saskatchewan announced an increase of $1.5 million to the Arts Board base budget. Phased in over a period of three years, this will allow for an increase in funding for the Individual and Project Assistance Grant Programs and the introduction of new programs in support of indigenous artists and organizations.

The board cooperates with other provincial agencies involved in arts and culture in Saskatchewan, such as the Department of Culture, Multiculturalism and Recreation, the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, and the Saskatchewan Council of Cultural Organizations.