B.C. actor-playwright Kevin Loring, the first artistic director of Indigenous theatre at the National Arts Centre, has posted a letter on Facebook bemoaning the loss of federal funding for his celebrated new department at the Ottawa venue.
He revealed that on World Theatre Day, March 27, the NAC received news from Canadian Heritage that there would be no money in the 2019 federal budget for Indigenous theatre at the stage.
But the Lytton-born Studio 58 grad from the Nlaka’pamux nation has resolved to forge ahead with the first Indigenous-theatre season at the NAC, launching in 2019-20. "Though I was tempted to resign in protest at the news of this funding denial, I am resolved, and will continue to honour the commitment that I made to the Indigenous storytellers of this land," he wrote on Facebook today. "Despite this set back, we will continue to celebrate Indigenous artists on our national stage."
Loring took up his much-celebrated new post in October 2017, working toward NAC’s 50th-anniversary 2019-20 season. The NAC program, launched by former NAC CEO Peter Herndorf, was envisioned as a hub for Indigenous theatre that would partner with companies across Canada, helping them tour from coast to coast to coast and raising the profile of Indigenous performing arts everywhere. "In light of this funding denial, the scope of these aspirations must now be reconsidered," Loring warned in the post.
Loring assured followers that the NAC Foundation had been pursuing private and corporate donations from across Canada to keep the first Indigenous theatre season afloat, "albeit in a greatly diminished capacity".
"And although the leadership of the NAC is committed to the existence of Indigenous Theatre, without ongoing financial support, we will not have the capacity to achieve our vision and full impact," he wrote. "We do not have the resources for outreach, professional development and engagement with Indigenous artists and communities that would have supported the work. We also won’t be able to support the efforts we had imagined necessary to elevate the Indigenous performing arts sector across the country."