From Artistic Director, Ryan Cunningham

As the Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts it is my role to take responsibility for the artistic decisions made by the company.

For as long as Native Earth has been a company, we’ve been trailblazers. Sometimes our choices are celebrated. Sometimes our choices are called into question.

Our community never fails to tell us how it feels, and for this I am grateful. I particularly appreciate the emails I have received; the conversations in-person and by telephone I have had with many in the community. This is productive.

I am listening to the discussion that is going on now. I hear the disappointment our community is expressing in the casting choices for this co-production and I appreciate the feedback. I will commit to take this feedback forward.

I heard you when you let us know how you felt at this past Weesageechak festival. The festival and community alike were electric with positivity and warmth. I knew from your overwhelmingly positive response that we’re on the right track with Weesageechak, and those responses are helping us to continue to move in the right direction with this annual festival. Some of you voiced to me your criticisms of the festival, particularly regarding how it was organized. I heard that too, and we will use the feedback to improve our upcoming festival.

Native Earth entered into this co-production with Factory and two accomplished artistic leaders, respected artists who have unquestionably supported Indigenous and culturally diverse artists for years. The impact they have had on our community cannot be eradicated with one production.

However, with any experience there are lessons to be learned. We have heard our community and in moving forward your voices will inform our choices for the future.

This is a complex discussion. We intend to take the time necessary to reflect and connect with our community on a personal level. We wish to hear the many perspectives on this issue before we come together in a public forum. We will then to put together a schedule of events that will allow us as a community to have this conversation face-to-face and move forward in a good way.

The community forum scheduled for Tuesday March 31st in Aki Studio is postponed to a later date. In the meantime, know that our doors are open. You are welcome to stop by, talk with us, phone or email us.

Native Earth was created to support Indigenous artists and share our Indigenous stories. Our community can count on us to continue to do this, to take risks, push boundaries, and trail-blaze in the name of supporting Indigenous art.

Ryan Cunningham
Artistic Director