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The Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts says despite the arts scene being in pretty good shape in Canada, there’s always opportunity to improve on certain aspects.

Simon Brault was in Winnipeg speaking at The New Music Festival this past weekend and says the funding for arts should focus on three tasks or challenges, the most important of which is promoting and recognizing the importance of Indigenous art in Canada and acknowledging the role that art plays in reconciliation.

“I think Canadians in general are very aware of the importance of recognizing that our country organized a cultural genocide of Indigenous and Metis people,” said Brault. “We can’t pretend that supporting Indigenous art is the same as supporting any other form of art.”

Brault believes recognizing Indigenous art as separate from other forms of art can highlight its importance in Canada and help people to better understand the plight many Indigenous people had to go through and still go through today.

“We need to put it in the context of decolonization and reconciliation because there’s a huge power in the arts for healing and a huge power in the arts for self-determination and self-expression of indigenous, Inuit and Metis people,” said Brault. “We are at an important juncture in Canada and we need to promote art that is significant and lasting in terms of reconciliation and honour the people who were here first on this land.”

Brault acknowledged that Indigenous, Inuit and Metis art is featured prominently in in places such as the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

He says that is positive, but there is always more that can be done.

Brault said the other two tasks the Canada Council for the Arts have identified are diversifying in terms of featuring more diverse artists and programming in order to engage a larger section of the public, and embracing emerging technologies to engage with art in new and innovative ways. 

The Canada Council for the Arts will double their investment into the arts sector in Canada over the next five years, according to Brault. He says he’s excited about that and hopes the increase in funding – combined with government support – will allow art to engage with more Canadians and help them complete their three main tasks.