Arts Day on the Hill

On Tuesday October 25, Nova joined arts colleagues from across the country for Arts Day on the Hill in Ottawa. Delegates met with MPs of all stripes to thank the Federal Government for recent increases in arts funding, and to continue to lobby for long term commitments for programs that support Canadian artists. Nova was charged with introducing the Honourable Minister for Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly.

nova speech

"Senators, Ministers, Members of Parliament, my arts colleagues from across the country – I am here on behalf of Canadian artists to say thank you. Thank you for the investments of budget 2016 - and through these investments recognizing that a healthy and vibrant arts sector means a healthy and vibrant Canada. Thank you especially for doubling the investment in the Canada Council for the Arts - I know the CAC has been lobbying for this for a long time - so gratifying to see that goal becoming a reality.

Investment in Canadian artists has many, many returns for us all. As artists our job is to both hold a mirror up to our world - and to provide a respite from it; to dream the future and to hold our histories and our past. Now, more than ever in the cultural realm, Canada is poised to transform its understanding of its own identity and what the artistic output of a nation can be. Reconciliation and support for Indigenous artists are the guts of the transformation, because a true commitment to reconciliation and de-colonization is a commitment to sharing – sharing resources and sharing power on all levels as we work to establish new systems of creation and dissemination.

Prime Minister Trudeau has said that: “Canada has succeeded – culturally, politically, economically – because of our diversity” With a progressive, moral and ethical cultural policy that embraces this principle - Canada’s multi-faceted identity can shine with dazzling brilliance. A strong cultural policy must put the art at the heart, and support it with the connective tissue of investment in cultural spaces and audiences – it must feed the evolution of larger spheres of inclusion and open our eyes to multiple expressions of our current moment. Budget 2016’s Cultural Spaces and Showcasing Canada programs are also integral to establishing distribution channels for a collective Canadian culture. Cultural spaces must be able to program, accommodate, invite and reflect all Canadians/ and we need to have access to international markets, sending Canadian art into the world that is a meaningful representation of who we are – indigenous art, settler art, contemporary and classical art – are all a part of who we are as Canadians today.

We need a cultural policy with strong philosophical under-pinnings, we need our art and our artistic institutions to function as a deep ecosystem – capable of listening, adapting and responding to its inhabitants. We need - a Minister of Canadian Heritage who is an impassioned, energetic and unabashed believer in the power of art. I’m pleased to introduce Minister Joly who over the past year has repeatedly demonstrated her desire to listen to and work with the arts sector. I love that the person with the digital file, keeps talking about “hacking the system”, as a choreographer I’m very impressed with how physically engaged she is when speaking about Canada 150 celebrations and the heritage portfolio - and I’m hearing great things about her resourcefulness and ability to make change. Minister Joly, before I give you the floor, I’d like to quote your Ministerial mandate letter – “Canada’s stories, shaped by our immense diversity deserve to be celebrated and shared with the world” - you’ve got the mandate, you’ve got the power, you’ve got the artists cheering you on – let’s make it happen. Ladies and gentlemen – Minister Mélanie Joly." - Nova Bhattacharya

Photo of Nova Bhattacharya by Kevin Ormsby.