Focus on Communities and Accessibility: 2010 - 2012

In 2010, the government in Saskatchewan was adjusting to its new leadership under the Saskatchewan Party. While the government was very supportive of the lottery-funded system, the cultural community was shocked when in 2012 the Saskatchewan government eliminated the Saskatchewan Film Tax Credit, as well as changing the Saskatchewan Tourism Authority into a Crown corporation. The cuts to the film tax credit led to the decimation of the film industry in Saskatchewan. To address the ongoing concern over the film industry in Saskatchewan, the Ministry launched a Creative Industries Review, which included collecting input from the community, followed up by consultations. SaskCulture participated in the discussions around the formation of a new entity for creative industries, as well as providing support to the Saskatchewan Cultural Industries Development Council for dialogue on the issue. In 2013, the government established Creative Saskatchewan, as an arm’s length government agency that would address the creative, and/or cultural, industries in Saskatchewan, and manage a funding program and repayable loan program for the province. Slow funding growth and eventual cutbacks to the Saskatchewan Arts Board created concern over an ever-widening pushback on the development of culture in Saskatchewan.

In 2011, SaskCulture launched a new strategic plan that focused on three new overarching strategic priorities: supporting and leveraging the SaskCulture network, elevating awareness and maximizing understanding of SaskCulture, and investing in online technology. SaskCulture also got approval from its membership in 2011 to change its fiscal year end from July 31 to March 31, to be more in line with the provincial and Trust budget cycle. It shortened that year to an 8-month cycle in order to accommodate the change, and began regular reporting in 2012.

Due to these changes, SaskCulture began holding its Annual General Meetings in June, in 2012, separately from its annual gathering held each October. It continued to hold its an annual Gathering for the next couple of years to engage its members and others in the community, covering topics such as: Taking Action for a More Inclusive Society (2010), Welcoming a New Age of Cultural Engagement (2011), The Changing Face of Saskatchewan (2012), and Assess & Address for Continued Success (2013). However, in 2014, SaskCulture suspended holding these Gatherings due to increased workload in other priority areas, as well as its interest in focusing on different professional development opportunities for the community, particularly in its implementation of a Multicultural Inclusiveness strategy.

In February 2011, SaskCulture moved into its new office space at #404 – 2125 11th Avenue in the Cornwall Professional Building and due to its growth, added additional space in 2015. From 2011-13, the new space also housed artsVest, a program developed by Business for the Arts Canada, which provided a matching incentive and sponsorship training designed to stimulate business sponsorship and corporate engagement in arts and culture.

By 2011 - 2012, the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund began to experience unprecedented growth. The large jackpots of $50 million in the Lotto Max, roll-overs and other new games contributed to growing revenues that were able to go back into the community. Organizations began receiving regular increases over this period for salaries and special, one-time projects or activities. Funding blocks were increased and two new funding programs came into existence: the Municipal Cultural Engagement and Planning Grant in 2011, and the Culture Days Funding Assistance Fund in 2012. In 2011, SaskCulture had record-breaking levels of requests for the Aboriginal Arts and Culture Leadership (AACL) grant, with over $460,000 dollars requested from 20 eligible applications.

The Municipal Cultural Engagement and Planning Grant was introduced in 2011 to encourage municipalities to invest in cultural engagement and cultural planning. This matching grant was designed to support Saskatchewan municipalities in an effort to explore and plan for the creative and cultural potential of their communities. In its first intake, 18 municipalities applied for funding and 13 applicants were successful, varying in size from Saskatoon to Val Marie. The grant’s popularity grew in 2012, with increased interest from communities, not necessarily municipalities. In 2016, SaskCulture changed the name of the grant to Community Cultural Engagement and Planning Grant to better reflect the intended use of the program. Some communities were able to use the CCEP grant in conjunction with the provincial government’s Main Street Program. Municipalities such as Maple Creek, North Battleford, Saskatoon, and a regional partnership that included Indian Head, Fort Qu’Appelle, Katepwa and Wolseley, were all successful in using the funds to engage community in cultural planning discussions. SaskCulture took on the administration of the Main Street Program, on behalf of the government, from 2012 to 2016, prior to it being eliminated after the 2016/17 provincial budget cuts.

After completing an Adjudication Review in September 2011, SaskCulture launched a new adjudication model for its SaskCulture-delivered funding programs. SaskCulture received almost 50 applications from a Call for Jury members. Selected jurors then underwent an orientation/training session in October 2011 and formed a pool of jurors that could be called upon to adjudicate SaskCulture’s grants moving forward. SaskCulture was very pleased that over 40% of this first jury pool were of Indigenous descent.