Once applications have been assessed in December, the Program Director will meet individually with each potential participant. Each artist will propose a project on which they will focus. Based on these discussions, participants will be confirmed and a mentor will be selected for each participant in consultation between the creator and the Program Director. Each artist will create a development plan with a series of deadlines to which both participants and mentors agree. From February to August, the mentors and participants will work on the outlined projects. Workshops with performers, as required, will take place. During this period, there will also be 2-3 meetings of the community of participants to discuss common ideas, perspectives, expectations and challenges.
By September of the first year, each participant and mentor will identify a selection of the developing work to be performed at Weesageechak Begins To Dance, the festival of new work produced in November by Native Earth. The selections will be presented by a company of actors, including some of the Animikiig participants themselves (to further encourage a community of creators), during an evening dedicated to the Animikiig artists.
Immediately after Weesageechak, the Program Director will meet again with each participant to plan how he or she needs to proceed. We will discuss the success of each project and the current mentorships (whether to continue them or not), and what further resources may be needed. In some cases, this requires further research into Indigenous culture and history; in others it may mean an intensive physical workshop in the studio. For a few it may also include the integral development of scenic elements. Over the following six months, mentors will become more actively director/dramaturgs and Animikiig will provide more intensive workshopping opportunities as dictated by the needs of each project. The end result will be a more fully realized script, libretto, score or physical performance.
Native Earth is dedicated to the on-going support of the artists with whom we work so, during this cycle, each Animikiig participant will receive hands-on counselling with respect to the long-term development of their work. Partnerships with other companies may be needed to help develop some of the more ambitious projects. We will work with each participant to identify potential production partners and to ensure that the necessary connections are made. We will continue to encourage them to apply for further individual funding as we recognize that more complex artistic projects can take several years to reach production and require resources beyond the capacity of Native Earth.
In November of the second year, each Animikiig participant will present an extended selection from his or her work at Weesageechak Begins to Dance which will be professionally directed and read/performed by a professional Indigenous cast. We will invite potential funders and producers to these presentations. Animikiig is committed not just to the fundamental development of Indigenous work but also to the long-term health and success of our artists and their creation.
We acknowledge the support of The Chawkers Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), an agency of the Government of Ontario, which last year funded 1737 individual artists and 1095 organizations in 233 communities across Ontario for a total of $52.1 million.