Yukon artist grant funding doubles

The Yukon Advanced Artist Award is receiving its most significant funding increase to date. The award, which was established in 1983, is getting a $70,000 boost, jumping from $80,000 to $150,000.

The Yukon Advanced Artist Award is receiving its most significant funding increase to date.

The award, which was established in 1983, is getting a $70,000 boost, jumping from $80,000 to $150,000.

The funding comes from the Lotteries Yukon reserve and will come into effect on October 1, 2014.

The award is distributed on a two-tier scale, to A-level and B-level artists. The distinction is determined by how established an artist is in their professional career, and their level of impact inside and outside Yukon.

The B-level is being increased from $2,500 to $5,000 and the A-level will get a bump from $5,000 to $10,000.

“I don’t remember the last time there was a significant increase like this, if ever,” said Mike Nixon, minister of tourism and culture.

“It’s going to provide some new and unique opportunities for Yukon’s professional artists.”

Past artists who have benefited from the award include musician Gordie Tentrees and Ross River carver Dennis Shorty.

The award is distributed in two intakes annually.

In July 2012, 11 Yukon artists shared $37,855 through the award for their literary, performing or visual arts development.

Recipients included Evan Rensch, who was given $2,500 to create a series of portraits of Keno City residents using a large format camera.

Elaine Corden received $2,305 to attend the Sage Hill Writing Experience in Saskatoon where she received guidance and feedback on a collection of essays for her first book.

The boost in the award brings Yukon in line with other provinces and territories in Canada, where artist grants range from $8,000 to $20,000.

Annie Avery, chair of the Yukon Arts Advisory Council, said she expects the increased funding to result in larger scale projects and more complete bodies of work for Yukon artists.

The award was bolstered after a request from the council asking for increased funding. They were aware that lotteries revenue was increasing, had the figures to back it up, and felt confident asking for a larger slice of the pie, said Avery.

The applications are evaluated by a jury of peers, with a different set of jurors for each intake. If 10 musicians apply for the funding but only two writers, for example, the jury would be made up predominantly of individuals with music knowledge.

Avery recalled when carver Ken Anderson first applied, at 18-years-old, and said the award helped push him forward in his career.

“I remember when he was just starting out, now he has beautiful, incredible work in the permanent collection and it’s being sold all over the place.

“It’s these kinds of funds that allow an artist to study or take some time to complete a body of work.”

Avery also highlighted the importance of local art for the tourism sector.

“When you walk around and look at the art in our town or look at our tourism buildings, it very much reflects how important art is to our culture and economy.”

“We saw this as an opportunity where we can make a real difference in Yukoners’ lives, especially in the arts,” said Nixon. “We’re pleased to move forward with it.”

Contact Sam Riches at sam@yukon-news.com

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