From April 25 to May 4 artists from across Northern Canada will take over the nation’s capital in a celebration of our finest emerging and established artistic talent.
Northern Scene will feature more than 250 artists in 50 events at 26 venues over 10 days.
Selected participants will come from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut, representing a multitude of artistic genres and creating a living portrait of our unique region.
The idea stems back to 2001. That’s when the National Arts Centre made it a priority to put the “National” back in National Arts Centre. The first showcase was 2003’s Atlantic Scene, followed by Alberta, Quebec, BC, and Prairie Scenes every two years.
Last week the National Arts Centre released the official program online and with a live show in Ottawa featuring a selection of participating artists.
I caught up with producer and executive director Heather Moore to learn more.
What’s Up Yukon: There is incredible talent in Northern Canada. How did your team choose who would be best to represent the North?
Heather Moore: We spent a lot of time researching, attending shows, meeting artists and talking to lots and lots of people from the North. And travelling. We wanted to make sure we weren’t programming a festival from afar, and falling into stereotypes. We had great help from the passionate people in the regions, such as the folks at the Yukon Arts Centre, the Adäka Cultural Festival and others. We developed a pretty big list, and from there we tried to balance the established artists with the emerging, the traditional with the contemporary and throw in a few less usual suspects.
WUY: What strikes you most about arts and culture in the North?
HM: When asked about Northern Scene here, I tell people to expect the unexpected. I think audiences will be inspired by how contemporary and vibrant the arts scene is in the North. And how diverse.
WUY: What act/exhibit are you most excited to catch?
HM: I can’t possibly pick just one, but I can’t wait for The Grub-Stake Revisited, the live performance/screening of Nell Shipman’s 1923 silent film that a group of Yukoners have re-imagined with a new score by Daniel Janke and new dialogue, all taken from Shakespeare. It’s a wacky idea that’s had huge success and we’re thrilled to have it at Northern Scene.
WUY: How many attendees do you expect to take part in the action?
HM: Previous “Scenes” have attracted audiences in the tens of thousands, and we expect the same for Northern Scene.
WUY: With the exception of Ontario, all the regions in the country have now been showcased. What are the future plans for the “Scenes”?
HM: Ontario will happen in 2015, and we are planning a Canada Scene for 2017-the Sesquicentennial.
From the distinctly original and much loved old timey folk duo Old Time Machineto the culinary delights of Whitehorse culinary artist Michele Genest’s (aka the Boreal Gourmet) wild food fusions, Northern Scene is widely diverse.
Yukon is also fortunate to be home to an extraordinary array of First Nations artistic talent. Special highlights at Northern Scene include the Spirit of the Drums performance which was launched at the 2012 Adäka Cultural Festival and will feature eight drumming groups from across the North, including the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers and the Kaska Dena Drummers.
Over the coming weeks, What’s Up Yukon will be featuring Yukon artists involved in Northern Scene, so be sure to check back. For a full program schedule and more information, go to the Northern Scene website at www.nac-cna.ca/en/northernscene.