On the occasion of a funding announcement for The National Arts Training Contribution Program

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Banff, Alberta
March 18, 2009

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Thank you, Mary. Hello everyone. Thank you for coming today.

I am very pleased to be here, because today, the Government of Canada and the Banff Centre are going to make sure that the next generation of Canadian artists get the training and support they need to pursue their dreams of a career in the arts.

Some ask, “Why support training for the arts?” Our artists and cultural institutions play an important role in Canadian life as well as the Canadian economy.

With investments of over half a billion dollars for arts, culture, and heritage, the 2009 federal budget has sent a clear signal recognizing the significant contribution that the cultural sector makes in stimulating and strengthening our economy.

This funding will support marquee festivals and events. It will enhance our cultural facilities, help to overcome geographic distances in accessing Canadian culture, and support our top institutions as they face the economic challenges ahead.

But before all this, before the performance, the tour, or the show, comes the hard, difficult work of training and perfecting your art.

You understand this; so does the Government. We understand that excellence in the arts can only come when there is a serious commitment to professional training.

This commitment must come from the individuals involved, the organizations that foster their talent, and the communities that support them.

Our Government has therefore renewed its commitment to training Canadian artists. Our Economic Action Plan provides additional support to the National Arts Training Contribution Program. In fact, it’s a budget increase of $7 million per year.

The National Arts Training Contribution Program provides funding to the highest calibre artistic institutions in Canada so they can train artists for professional careers.

And this additional support from the Government will be a key factor in ensuring the ongoing competitiveness and operational stability of important institutions like the Banff Centre.

For 76 years, the Banff Centre has provided training through workshops, residencies, and courses.

Banff is a great place to explore and experiment … a place where Canadian artists can practice their craft, and then take their place in the limelight domestically and internationally.

The results from training at Banff are clear:

As a result of her participation in the Music Fall Residency here, cellist Rachel Desoer was invited to perform as a member of the esteemed National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa;

Actor Amanda Leblanc was offered a lead role in Stratford’s 2009 season. I should point out that Amanda is a second generation Banff artist ― her mother was here in the Visual Arts program;

As a result of their experiences at Banff, choreographers Peter Quantz, Crystal Pite, and Sabrina Matthews were invited to create new works that premiered at the National Ballet of Canada earlier this month.

Internationally, soprano Rose Ellen Nichols was hired to perform at the Wexford Festival in England. And the Afiara Quartet went on to win First Prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in New York, following a top-prize victory at the Munich ARD International Music Competition.

The quartet is the only Canadian ensemble to win top honours in either of these renowned competitions.

These artists, while they may excel in different disciplines, have something in common ― they all received important professional training opportunities at Banff that helped them take their work to the next level.

Our Government is very pleased to support the excellent work being done here at the Banff Centre. In fact, we currently provide the Centre with about $1.5 million dollars each year for its training programs. And we’re also big supporters of the Centre's endowment fund.

Today, I am delighted to announce that the Government of Canada is providing 124,000 dollars for the Banff Centre’s Playbill Series. Now in its 28th year, this wonderful Series offers an amazing variety of exceptional music, dance, and theatre from Canada and around the world.

Through the experiences Banff provides ― in this inspiring location ― our artists have tremendous opportunities to learn their craft and sharpen their skills.

I am proud of our Canadian artists, and I want to take this opportunity to commend the Banff Centre for the Arts on providing them with such a wonderful range of enriching experiences.

Thank you very much.

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