NDP legislators urge Ottawa to provide 'stable funding' to Indigenous Theatre - InfoNews

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NDP legislators urge Ottawa to provide 'stable funding' to Indigenous Theatre

NDP MP Niki Ashton stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, April 26, 2018. New Democrat legislators are calling on the Liberal government to reconsider a decision that denies funding to the National Arts Centre's Indigenous Theatre. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
April 12, 2019 - 2:03 PM

New Democrat legislators are calling on the Liberal government to reconsider a decision that denies funding to the National Arts Centre's Indigenous Theatre.

Five NDP members of parliament signed a letter on Friday to Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez urging a commitment to stable funding for the Indigenous theatre project, which launches its inaugural season this year.

The letter says while the federal government has pledged to protect and promote Indigenous cultures and history, it "must go much further" and that includes acknowledging Indigenous cultures "as a foundational pillar of Canadian culture."

Playwright Kevin Loring, the first-ever artistic director of the NAC's Indigenous program, posted a note on Facebook earlier this month lamenting a lack of support for the project from Canadian Heritage in the 2019 federal budget.

He said it will have a tangible impact on the first season, leaving the Ottawa-based performing arts centre to rely on fundraising efforts. The scope of any subsequent seasons remains in question after $3.5 million of requested federal funding was denied.

The federal government supports the performing arts and Indigenous art, having "recently invested $225 million to support the renewal of the National Arts Centre," a representative for Canadian Heritage said earlier this month.

The NDP MPs say the new theatre was created as a space for Indigenous people to share their stories "in the heart of our country's capital for all to see and hear."

"Support for such a vision is key to reconciliation," the letter added.

"Canada must redefine its vision of its heritage to centre the original peoples, Indigenous Peoples, and incorporate their history, their cultures, and that plurality to how we view ourselves," the letter continued. "Denying that influence, and returning to our two traditional solitudes, does a disservice to us all, a disservice we cannot afford."

New Democrat MP Niki Ashton asked the Liberals during question period on Monday why the government isn't supporting the theatre program. Gary Anandasangaree, parliamentary secretary to Heritage Minister Rodriguez, responded saying the Liberals are working on reconciliation efforts.

The first season's lineup of NAC's Indigenous Theatre is scheduled to be announced on April 30.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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