Cape Breton art centre creates new positions to support Indigenous artists

·2 min read
A Michelle Sylliboy exhibit on display at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design. (Michelle Sylliboy - image credit)
A Michelle Sylliboy exhibit on display at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design. (Michelle Sylliboy - image credit)

The Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design has created two new positions to help support Indigenous artists and crafters with their entrepreneurial skills.

Executive director Lori Burke said the centre began looking at the barriers that exist for Indigenous crafters after reading a study by the Cape Breton Partnership on the hurdles Indigenous female entrepreneurs face.

"There were barriers to access for Indigenous artists and particularly women who were looking to develop their artistic practice and their creative businesses," said Burke.

Burke said the most common business for Indigenous female entrepreneurs is in the field of craft and design.

Aside from barriers to access, Burke said many of the people they consulted from Indigenous communities cited a lack of mentorship as one of their biggest challenges as entrepreneurs.

"The artists were really looking for community-based training and support," said Burke. "So we listened."

Burke is executive director of the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design. The mandate of the non-profit centre is to promote excellence in the craft and design sector on Cape Breton Island through education, training, exhibitions and special events.
Burke is executive director of the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design. The mandate of the non-profit centre is to promote excellence in the craft and design sector on Cape Breton Island through education, training, exhibitions and special events.

The centre has also created a Mi'kmaw advisory committee.

"We've worked and developed this project so that it was meaningful, or we hope that it's going to be meaningful, for the community," said Burke.

The two new positions — an Indigenous arts co-ordinator and an Indigenous craft business skills co-ordinator — will focus on identifying an Indigenous artist's business skills, their needs, gaps in their skills and how to enhance them.

"This is going to be very focused on that community and also finding out who's in the community and who's doing what, because we don't have that data," said Burke.

The centre is accepting applications now for both positions.

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