Denise Bolduc Honoured with 2017 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award
Arts leader Denise Bolduc is the recipient of the 2017 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award. This award, created in 2012, celebrates the work of Indigenous artists and arts leaders who have made significant contributions to the arts in Ontario.
Denise will receive this $10,000 award on Wednesday, June 14 during Tributaries - the opening night of Toronto's Luminato festival. Produced and curated by Denise, Tributaries will feature more than 60 artists paying tribute to the resilience of Indigenous women and the power of land and water. Taking place at Toronto's David Pecaut Square (215 King St. W.), the event will begin at 7 p.m., and the award presentation will be at 8:45 p.m. Tributaries is free and open to the public.
The OAC Indigenous Arts Award also honours emerging leadership: each year, the award recipient is invited to nominate a rising Indigenous artist or arts professional to receive a $2,500 prize. Denise has selected Erika Iserhoff of Native Women in the Arts (and associate producer of Tributaries) as this year's emerging laureate.
Denise Bolduc, who is French and Anishinaabe, is a member of the Batchewana First Nation/Lake Superior Anishinaabeg. She lives in Toronto. Denise is an accomplished creative producer, particularly in the performing arts. She was the artistic director and co-founder of the Aboriginal Music Project - Canada's first Indigenous music organization - and the founding artistic director and producer of Planet IndigenUS - an annual multi-arts festival at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre.
Denise has also led the Indigenous arts programming at many high-profile events. In addition to her work with Luminato, she is the National Arts Centre's host presenter at Canada Scene's First Scene (2017), and has produced a number of events such as Maadaadizi / Summer Journeys, the grand finale of the Pan Am Path Art Relay (2015).
Internationally, Denise has programmed and presented at festivals and cultural events in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. In 2014, she was chosen by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian High Commission to serve as an honoured guest at the international Australian Performing Arts Market in Brisbane, and that same year she also received the SOLID Arts Leadership Award (SOLID Festival, Australia).
Denise has served in leadership roles at several public arts funders. She was a program officer for both music and dance at the Canada Council for the Arts (1997-1999), and for Indigenous arts at the Ontario Arts Council (1999-2005).
Denise has served on the board of directors of many Indigenous arts organizations, including the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Native Earth Performing Arts, REEL CANADA, NDN Talent Collective, Weeneebeg Film and Video Festival and Aboriginal Voices Radio.
"Denise is an outstanding leader," said the jury members, who were unanimous in their choice. "She is a trailblazer who has brought about institutional change, all while promoting the work of so many artists and arts organizations. She also brings warmth, passion and spirit to everything she does."
"Though they usually work behind the scenes, producers are critically important to building artistic projects, organizations and communities," said Peter Caldwell, Director & CEO, Ontario Arts Council. "With her multi-faceted work in the Indigenous arts and performing arts communities, Denise exemplifies the significance of this role."
Erika Iserhoff is of Omushkego and Eeyou Cree heritage, and is a member of Constance Lake First Nation. She lives in Toronto. She is a multidisciplinary artist, focusing on the reclamation and rethinking of traditional materials, processes, and their cultural significance.
Erika is a co-founder and co-artistic director of the Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator, which fosters the creation and exhibition of new works by Indigenous artists working in fashion, textiles and crafts.
Erika received a Dora Mavor Moore Award for her work in Indigenous theatre costume design. She is also a founding member of Chocolate Woman Collective, an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and intergenerational theatre collective.
She is the artistic director for Native Women in the Arts, an organization that identifies, promotes and assists in developing the careers of Indigenous women artists in diverse artistic fields.
Erika holds a Bachelor of Design with a major in textiles from OCAD University, where she is now a sessional professor in the Indigenous Visual Culture program, teaching the Materials and Methods course.
About the Award: The Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award is a $12,500 award program: $10,000 is awarded to the laureate, $2,500 to the emerging laureate. Jurors for the 2017 award were visual artist/curator Jason Baerg (Courtright), filmmaker/producer Michelle Derosier (Thunder Bay) and playwright/poet Daniel David Moses (Kingston). Previous laureates include Samuel Thomas (2016), Daniel David Moses (2015) and Christi Belcourt (2014). Click here for a full list of past recipients.
For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2015-2016, OAC funded 1,676 individual artists and 1,125 organizations in 209 communities across Ontario for a total of $50.5 million.
Photo Credit: (top) Nadya Kwandibens