Art Works – CARFAC Saskatchewan Gets Creative


Arts Impact Story

by Kerry Benjoe

CARFAC is a national body that consists of six regional affiliates with one located in Regina to service the province’s local visual, performance and media artists. It receives most of its funding through Sask Lotteries and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.

CARFAC Saskatchewan provides resources, programs and services for artists to help them build the best professional career for themselves such as a fee schedule, contract templates, workshops and mentorship opportunities. Examples of the services are available online (

“Art is a very interesting career path because there is no one way to do it,” said Nelson. “A successful career is often dependent on the person. Some people are going to want to be in a big commercial art gallery and have art sales, other people are doing performance art, which is very hard to sell, so a successful career for them might be receiving grants and having exhibitions in a public gallery.”

Most artists work in isolation, so it has always been important to provide ways to network and build community, said Nelson. Some ways to do it is through artists talks and mentorship opportunities.

Many of its webinars and artist talks involve established artists, not only sharing their experiences, but the dos and don’ts of the business with emerging artists.

“There is a lot of work involved, artists work very, very hard but it’s behind the scenes…people only see the artwork itself and not the hard work behind it,” said Nelson. “Artists are basically entrepreneurs. They are running their own small business.”

During the ongoing pandemic, Nelson knew CARFAC Saskatchewan would have to shift gears in order to best serve the needs of its members.

Many artists work within the various school systems, so with them being shut down some artists had no income and no social safety net to fall back on.

During this same time period, CARFAC Saskatchewan modified its programs and services.

Over the summer, the visiting artist mentorship program was cancelled because of safety concerns, so the money was funneled into an emergency relief fund. This was necessary because artists were not covered in the initial roll out of Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit program.

Nelson hopes to reintroduce the cancelled programming, but it’s still too early to say.

Fortunately, with the help of technology, most programs are back up and running online. In September, the mentorship program was able to continue and instead of in-studio visits everything was done virtually.

Nelson said 2020 was a year of change, but the important thing was to keep things going.

“It will be different in the future, but we should be able to resume personal interaction,” said Nelson. “I think virtual will be here to stay and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”