NAC Presents Mentorship Program

Music Canada Live’s Christopher Cpernjak speaks to NAC Presents‘  Heather Gibson, Executive Producer, about NAC Presents Mentorship Program.

What is the Mentorship Program? 
We don’t really call it the Mentorship Program.  The first iteration of the program occurred this year at the Regina Folk Festival (RFF).  We are responsive to the needs of the community or organization that we are working with.  In Regina, the RFF expressed a desire to work with local Indigenous artists and industry members and provide individual, meaningful mentorship opportunities.   So we built a custom program that met the needs of that community.   The program brought together two local indigenous artists and one local industry member and immersed them into the festival, connecting them with other artists and industry mentors.  Mentors were chosen based on who participated as mentees.  It’s all very personalized and kept small scale on purpose.

How did the idea for the program come about?
When I first started this position at the National Arts Centre two years ago the CEO tasked me with trying to find ways to put the “national” into National Arts Centre.  He felt that we contribute heavily to the culture of Ottawa and through some of our outreach and education programs across the country but that we should be doing more.  So I started by speaking to colleagues from across the country about what do they need the most, how could we be involved with them and their communities.  It became evident that everyone needed something a little different and that I would have to customize a program depending on the partnerships we made.  However, those who were truly involved with artist and industry development all talked about mentorship.  So we started there.

What are the objectives of the program?
The objective of the program is to grow the music industry, both artistically and behind the scenes, through mentorship and providing genuine networking opportunities.  We want to work closely with artists and industry at a local level in an immersive setting to help build relationships that will further careers.

Who is the program for?
The program is for any organization, festival, venue, or group working in the music industry who feels they have a gap in their community that we could help tackle in a meaningful way.

How are mentors selected?
Mentors are sought specifically based on the needs of the artists and industry members involved in the program at the local level.

How does the program contribute to the artistic and cultural life of Canada?
My hope is that it makes it a bit more connected.  Artists need each other to grow, learn, inspire, and thrive.  Industry need each other for the same reasons.  Hopefully the program provides a platform for that.

This program will happen at a local level at a pace that makes sense in those communities.  It’s a grassroots approach, a local initiative, I’m just doing it across the country.

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