The Yukon Emerging Artist Program looks to support artists in developing their practice during the time of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a challenging time for artists, which is why the Yukon Arts Centre is so excited about their Yukon Emerging Artist Program. 

Reviving Dena Style mask. Dennis Shorty

“I fundamentally believe that it’s important to get money into the hands of artists right now,” said Mary Bradshaw, Director of Visual Arts for the Yukon Arts Centre, “and although it is tough for many artists at the moment, it may also be an opportunity for artists to choose to grow and take the time to focus on further developing their practice. Hopefully the Yukon Emerging Artist Program helps them to do that.”

The Yukon Emerging Artist Program is an initiative of the Yukon Arts Centre supported by the RBC Foundation to support the professional development of Yukon artists by creating meaningful mentorship opportunities between emerging and established artists. 

This virtual mentorship program is open to artists in all genres (visual, performing, literary, and multimedia artistic practices). The program will provide honorariums of $500 for both the mentee and the mentor/collaborator. 

Emerging artists can apply through this program to propose a virtual mentorship or collaboration with an established Canadian artist. There are no deadlines for completion though projects must be completed within a reasonable time frame. The application deadline is rolling (ongoing). The applications will be juried by staff members of the Yukon Arts Centre and a member of the Yukon arts community. Applicants will be notified 10 days from receipt of application.

The application form includes details from the RBC Foundation on the definition of an emerging artist. Bradshaw stressed that an emerging artist might not meet all of the suggested criteria. “The most important criteria I’m concerned with is if you self-identify as an emerging artist,” she explained.

“I can’t wait to see what people scheme up,” said Bradshaw. “I’m so excited to see what people are interested in doing and, on a really selfish level as a curator, to be introduced to new artists. We have such a large and diverse art community here in the territory and I definitely don’t know them all.”

“The Yukon Emerging Artist program supported by the RBC Foundation has been helping the Yukon Arts Centre deliver key outreach programming for emerging artists for two years,” said Yukon Arts Centre CEO Casey Prescott. “Given the disruption of COVID-19 we have moved quickly to refocus this program, making it more flexible to provide timely support for Yukon artists pursuing virtual mentorship and collaboration opportunities.”

Bradshaw elaborated, “This model is a much different take on the program than in the past. Previously we used the funding to support emerging artists within the programming we were already doing. For example, we worked with the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) in Dawson to host an exhibition of their students’ work and we worked with Dennis Shorty to host a mask making program in Ross River.”

“This year with everything going on with COVID-19 we thought to ourselves, ‘ok, we’ve got this money, let’s pull it apart and do an active call and get these dollars out the door as fast as possible,” she added. “It’s already been really fun, we’ve already had lots of great feedback and I would love to continue the model into the future.”

Bradshaw stressed that potential applicants shouldn’t be shy in approaching her, or Director of Programming, Michelle Emslie, if they have any questions about the process. “Don’t be shy, just send us an email and we’re happy to talk it through with you,” she said.

She also pointed out that more established artists who are interested in mentoring an emerging artist can initiate the process. “The mentor and mentee apply as a unit to the program,” she explained. “So that in planning their application mentors can reach out to potential mentees as well as the more traditional model where mentees seek out the mentor they would like to work with.”

You can find information on how to apply to the Yukon Emerging Artist Program here: https://yukonartscentre.com/artist_opportunities/emerging-artist-program

Master carver Dennis Shorty, at the opening reception for the Our Journey: Reviving Dena Style mask exhibit on March 7, 2019. Shorty participated in past programming supported by the mentorship program funding. Photo: Alistair Maitland

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