Catching Up with Trevor Holder!

As the provincial minister for Wellness, Culture, Sport, Parks and Tourism in New Brunswick, Trevor Holder has his hands full. Recently the life-long resident of Saint John stopped just long enough to speak with Arts East about the state of the arts in his home province.

AE: Why do you think that your province enjoys such a strong arts community?
TH: New Brunswick has so many positive assets when it comes to our involvement in the arts. Not only do we have a privileged position within Canada as the only bilingual province in the country, but we also boast four universities, one of which is francophone, as well as the NB College of Craft and Design. We are also fortunate to have many nationally and internationally recognized arts institutions here, like the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and Symphony New Brunswick, and acclaimed artists such as Measha Brueggergosman, Herménégilde Chiasson, Shirley Bear, Edith Butler, Antonine Maillet, and many more. I also have to commend the leadership of the Acadian community, especially in the cultural sector. In New Brunswick, we also recognize the importance of culture at the municipal level. Many New Brunswick cities have developed cultural policies and public art programs. Some municipalities have been named Canadian Cultural Capitals by the government of Canada - Caraquet in 2002 and 2009, Sackville in 2008, Fredericton in 2009, and Saint John in 2010.

AE: In your opinion, why is arts and culture important to the people of your province?
TH: Culture helps us define who we are as a people and permeates the daily lives of New Brunswickers. We take pride in our roots, natural environment, cultural heritage, diversity of contemporary cultures, and the creative work of our artists.

AE: What is your government doing to support and promote the arts?
TH: Along with maintaining our focus on current initiatives, our government is committed to developing new programs that encourage and support New Brunswick artists and musicians, including partnerships with public schools. We will also recognize the professional status of New Brunswick Artists, renew the provincial cultural policy, and put in place tax incentives for artists.
AE: What more can be done in this regard on a provincial level?
TH: We need to keep encouraging and supporting the arts and culture because they play a crucial role in our communities. We will be promoting careers in the arts as a viable career path and encouraging partnerships with community colleges and universities. Of course, we also need to support the continued development of strategic partnerships between the province, regions and municipalities.

AE: In your estimation, what more can be done in this regard on a regional level?
TH: Partnerships, initiatives and collaborations between arts organizations and institutions, industry and governments are very important, as well as export and training opportunities and tools for online training and education. We also need an augmented Atlantic profile for cultural tourism.

AE: Who are your favourite local and provincial artists?
TH: It’s hard to pick just a few, but some that I greatly admire are David Adams Richards, Flo Greig, Wayne Curtis, and Richard Flynn. I’ve also recently become familiar with the francophone group La Virée, and attend the Saint John Theatre Company’s performances on a regular basis. There is certainly no shortage of talent here in New Brunswick.

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