NATIVE EARTH PERFORMING ARTS ANNOUNCES
APPOINTMENT OF KEITH BARKER AS NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Native Earth Performing Arts has appointed Keith Barker, acclaimed Métis theatre artist as the new Artistic Director, announced the Native Earth Board of Directors today.
“We are delighted to welcome Keith Barker as the new Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts. In addition to his experience as an actor, director, playwright, and theatre administrator, Keith brings a wealth of knowledge of Indigenous theatre across Canada. We look forward to Keith’s vision and leadership as Native Earth enters the company’s 35th year as Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous theatre company.”
Keith Barker is originally from Northwestern Ontario and has worked in professional theatre for 16 years. He has had a decade-long relationship with Native Earth, which began as an Artistic Associate in 2007 with past Artistic Director Yvette Nolan. Between 2007 and 2010, he worked extensively with Native Earth’s Young Voices Program, now called the Animikiig Training Program. He has participated as playwright, performer, director and dramaturg for Native Earth’s annual festival of Indigenous works, Weesageechak Begins to Dance, where his award-winning play The Hours That Remain had its first public reading.
A graduate of the George Brown College Theatre School, some of Barker’s performances include Native Earth’s productions of Tombs of a Vanishing Indian (Native Earth/Red Diva Productions) and Death of a Chief (Native Earth/NAC), as well as King Lear with the National Arts Centre.
As a playwright, Barker has been the recipient of the Saskatchewan’s SATAward for Excellence in Playwriting and the Yukon Arts Award for Best Art for Social Change. He was Playwright-in-Residence at Native Earth from 2011-2012, a participant in the Stratford Festival Playwrights Retreat, and an ensemble member at the Banff Playwrights Colony. Barker’s work has been presented on stages across Canada and in New Zealand.
“It is an exciting time for Indigenous artists in this country. We are at the beginning of the national conversation around reconciliation. I believe artists will bridge the gap between knowing and not knowing on Turtle Island. With so many talented Indigenous artists in this country, my focus as Artistic Director will be to work with our communities to bring these voices to the stage. I will do my utmost to support the talented emerging, established, and senior Indigenous artists as they pursue their practice, as well as work to provide opportunities to thrive on national and international stages. As Artistic Director, I will pursue partnerships with allies to tell our stories in meaningful and respectful ways,” says Barker.
“I would like to take a moment to thank former Artistic Director, Ryan Cunningham, for his service to the organization and wish him well in his future endeavors. It is also important to me to acknowledge the hard work of those who came before us, and I pledge to do my best to help build a path for those who are yet to come. Miigwetch.”
Barker is a former board member for the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance and served three years on the Toronto Arts Council Committee. He comes to Native Earth from the Canada Council for the Arts where he has been a Theatre Program Officer since 2015.
Barker will join Native Earth full-time in May 2017.
Photo of Keith Barker by Christian Lloyd