Mawi’Art and artsnb partner to support Indigenous arts in NB and beyond


Mawi’Art and artsnb partner to support Indigenous arts in NB and beyond October 2, 2020 (Fredericton) – Mawi’Art: Wabanaki Artists Collective and the New Brunswick Arts Board (artsnb) have signed a partnership agreement to collaborate closely for the benefit of Indigenous artists and arts organizations in New Brunswick and beyond.

For years, artsnb has worked tirelessly to foster the development of Indigenous arts in New Brunswick. Notably, artsnb, with input from its Circle of Elders, inaugurated Equinox several years ago, a grant program open exclusively to NB Indigenous artists and arts organizations to help them bring their plans and ideas to fruition. artsnb also recently ran a number of workshops and a mini-conference aiming to help Indigenous musicians expand into new and wider markets. These projects have led to the release of a full album of original material (All My People) and a couple of music videos which have enjoyed much airplay online. These projects have also brought several of the participants to international venues in French Guyana, Morocco, and Australia.

artsnb worked with the other members of the Atlantic Public Arts Funders (APAF) network to create and run Petapan (First Light), the premier Indigenous arts symposium in the region. The first symposium was held in Nova Scotia in 2014, the second in New Brunswick in 2016, and the third one in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2019. At the last symposium, participants agreed that the next one should be organized by an Indigenous organization and that Mawi’Art should take on that role. APAF members supported this decision and agreed to lend Mawi’Art their knowledge and expertise.

Mawi’Art was established in 2013, originally as an organization to help Indigenous artists in Atlantic Canada develop and sell their work. Mawi’Art’s stated goals are to support their members through their artistic and business development activities, and to increase the profile of Indigenous arts from the Atlantic provinces by building partnerships across Canada, establishing and maintaining markets for members’ work, and providing opportunities for patrons to interact with members.

“Mawi’Art’s involvement in major events such as the Assembly of First Nations held in Fredericton in 2019 demonstrate our effectiveness in raising funds, finding partners, planning, organizing, and delivering complex projects on time and on budget,” stated Charlie Gaffney, Chair of Mawi’Art.

The new partnership agreement lays the groundwork for a closer collaboration between artsnb and Mawi’Art. In the short term, artsnb will share its experience with Mawi’Art to help them organize, promote and run the fourth Petapan symposium, which—COVID permitting—will be held in Fredericton in the summer of 2021. In the longer term, artsnb commits to helping Mawi’Art gather momentum and become a strong advocate for Indigenous artists and arts organizations in New Brunswick and the Atlantic region, so that they can grow and prosper.

“Artsnb is extremely pleased to enter into this important partnership with Mawi’Art. We are committed to the support of Indigenous artists, and happy to be a part of the planning of the fourth Petapan Symposium. We are all stronger together,” said Carol Collicutt, Chair of artsnb.



Open Letter to The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, P.C., M.P. Re: Steve Higgins CRA Case

The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, P.C., M.P.

Minister of National Revenue

7th Floor

555 MacKenzie Avenue

Ottawa ON  K1A 0L5

To The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, P.C., M.P.,

ArtsLink NB is writing to share our concerns regarding the Canadian Revenue Agency’s handling of Steve Higgins’s tax return from 2013. Mr. Higgins is a professional artist who generates portions of his income from the sale of works of art he has created and the intellectual property they represent. His remuneration for this  work may be received in the form of sales of his work, or from grants received in recognition of his work as a professional artist. Either way, the income is tied to his carrying out the business of artistic production. Grant monies are akin to the remuneration a consultant or worker trading in the knowledge economy would receive for the delivery of their product – the intangible of knowledge and expertise.

It is clear that Canada’s federal government recognizes the value of intellectual property as an economic driver, having recently announced plans to provide $85 million in support of developing Canada’s engagement in an ideas-based economy. Art production is an aspect of intellectual property: just as tech start-up companies benefit from grants or seed funding based on the promise of their ideas, so artists are by times remunerated for work that is in the gestation stage – a novelist whose book is yet unwritten, a choreographer whose work has not yet been presented. It would be unthinkable to reduce a tech company team to the label of “hobbyists” and then tax them on their seed funding without allowing them to claim their business expenses against it.

As creators and generators of ideas that shape the spaces we live in and allow us to encounter a reflection of who we are, artists must receive the same support received by others trading in both intellectual property and physical products. The arts contributed almost $54 billion to the Canadian economy in 2016, as well as  652,406 jobs. ArtsLink NB firmly advocates that artists of all disciplines are workers like those in any other sector. Professions in the arts merit the same respect extended to all of those helping to develop the Canadian economy and society through our labour, whether it be in the form of knowledge or products.

We request that the CRA recognize Steve Higgins as an artist carrying out professional activities for the tax year in question, and repeal the assessment that undermines his contributions to Canada’s economy in that year.


Gillian Dykeman

Executive Director

ArtsLink NB

407- 89 Canterbury St.

Saint John, NB

E2L 2C7