After three seasons, Ryan Cunningham is leaving Native Earth Performing Arts to pursue personal artistic projects, starting with his debut at Shaw Festival this summer.
In his time as Artistic Director, Cunningham strengthened Native Earth’s position as Canada’s leading Indigenous performing arts company with impactful programming and strategic partnerships. Most notably, these efforts resulted in a nine-city nation-wide tour of Native Earth’s award-winning production of Huff by Cliff Cardinal. Cunningham’s time in New Zealand and Australia also reinforced Native Earth’s longstanding international partnerships, leading to presentations of Huff around the globe.
Since he joined the company in 2014, Cunningham has been instrumental in reimagining Native Earth’s annual development festival, Weesageechak Begins to Dance, placing a focus on the inclusion of Indigenous dance and select presentations of work by legendary Indigenous artists, such as SpiderWoman Theater’s Gloria Miguel. Cunningham’s determination to bring Indigenous dance into a prominent position within Native Earth’s season birthed the now annual Indigenous Dance Double Bill, Niimi’iwe.
“During Ryan’s term as Artistic Director, Native Earth has developed new partnerships across Canada and internationally, as well as broadening the range of work we produce and present,” says Ashley Stacey, President of the Board of Directors. “We value the contribution he has made to the company and wish him well in his future artistic work.”
Stacey points out that this shift in leadership comes at the brink of Native Earth’s 35th season, creating an opportunity for a new visionary to lead the company into this milestone season. “It is an exciting time for Indigenous performing arts in Canada, and this change will offer another Indigenous leader a chance to make their mark – not only at Native Earth, but in an ever shifting artistic landscape.”
As Native Earth closes out their current season, Cunningham prepares for his upcoming performances with Tafelmusik and Shaw Festival.
A Search Committee to find a successor will be chaired by Ashley Stacey of the Native Earth Performing Arts Board of Directors.