Francophone community grant

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3A Emily WrightThe collaboration between artists and schools

Article: Robyn Tocker – A&C Editor

Since 1948, the Saskatchewan Arts Board has successfully funded various artists and art related projects through the support of the provincial government and donators, like SaskCulture. In 2013, the board proposed the GénieArts grants. These grants would be given to francophone schools/community groups who proposed to work with French artists across Saskatchewan.

Diane Warren, a member of the board, says these grants would draw attention to francophone and French Immersion schools.

“It draws attention to how it might work to help French schools explore their francophone culture through the arts.”

A total of eight schools/projects were awarded funding, including three schools in Regina, Saskatoon, Ponteix, and Bellegarde also received the grant. Lindsay Millar, who works at Ecole Wilfrid Walker, says that her school is going to “explore and develop” francophone identity.

Wilfred Walker students will work with a francophone artist, creating artwork to explore their identity as a francophone. The artwork will then be photographed and turned into trading cards. Millar says they will be sent to partner schools in Regina, another location in Saskatchewan, and one in Alberta. These other classes will respond to the students of Wilfred Walker and send back a trading card of their own. Millar suspects the project will take until the end of May.

Without this funding, Millar says the project wouldn’t be possible.

“Without the funding, we wouldn’t be able to engage with the francophone arts community. It makes it quite special for the students. It makes it special for the community.”

In total, Millar and her students will receive $4900, enough to fund 75 per cent of the project. The rest of the $7900 will be funded through the school.

Stéphanie Alain, who is the project facilitator at Ecole Monseigneur de Laval, says that with the $5095 the school received, she will be able to accomplish her goal of working with different classes and move in the same direction on the same project.

The students of Laval will work with professional artist Celine Giguere Findlay to do a mural of French Saskatchewan heritage. The students will have done research beforehand which the artist will translate into the mural. Close to the end of project, professional writer Martine Noel Maw will a lead reflection with students.

“They will put into words what the result is of their process, research, and experience,” says Alain.

For the students, Alain says the grant is especially important for them.

“They will learn more and retain more information because they will do something with this information. It’s tangible.”

In Saskatchewan, there are no other grants like this available exclusively for francophone and French Immersion schools. Warren says the Arts Board wants to nurture all artists and to meet the needs of the community.

“From our perspective, it’s an opportunity to reach out to artists in a particular artist community.”

“Personally, I think it’s a great opportunity to engage all aspects of what the francophone community looks like in Saskatchewan,” says Millar.

“We realize and remember a few things and people that are important in [the francophone] story – what we have behind us, and what we have going forward as a community,” says Alain.

Despite its success, until the Arts Board knows what money it has for the next year, it is unclear whether this grant will be available again.

Image: Emily Wright

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