Leadership Candidates Speak Out on the Arts

SAA asked candidates about their plans for the arts

On December 13th, 2017 SAA sent an email to the leadership candidates of the Saskatchewan Party and the Saskatchewan New Democrats and asked them the following questions:

If you are elected leader of (your party), what actions will you take to ensure that:

  1. the arts sector continues to grow, providing opportunities for artists throughout the province?
  2. all children in Saskatchewan have access to excellent arts education?


?As of January 19, 2018 SAA has received responses from four Saskatchewan Party candidates: Gord Wyant, Ken Cheveldayoff, Alanna Koch and Tina Beaudry-Mellor, and one NDP candidate, Ryan Meili.


Received from Mr. Meili on January 18, 2018 the following:

Hello Dr. Ricketts, 

My sincere apologies on the delayed response on this! 

Thank you for your thoughtful and important questions about Ryan's perspective on the arts in Saskatchewan. For your reference, I would like to point you to the full Arts and Culture policy, released just today, found here. 


I believe that this policy answers the questions posited by your organization, with even more details as to how these changes will be supported and what Dr. Meili's thoughts are regarding arts in Saskatchewan. 

1. What actions will you take to ensure that the arts sector continues to grow, providing opportunities for artists throughout the province?

2. What actions will you take to ensure that all children in Saskatchewan have access to excellent arts education? 

Please let me know if you have any further questions or would like to have any discussion on the policy piece.

Thank you,


Savhanna Wilson

Campaign Manager

Ryan Meili for Saskatchewan NDP Leadership 


Received from Ms. Beaudry-Mellor on January 10, 2018 the following:

Hello Kathryn and thank you for this opportunity to respond.

If you are elected leader of the Saskatchewan Party, what actions will you take to ensure that:

•         the arts sector continues to grow, providing opportunities for artists throughout the province?

1) As a former Board member of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and General Manager for Common Weal Community Arts, I know the important role that the arts play in community development, in particular.  I am committed to supporting the Artist in Residence Program which I believe has done a phenomenal job of allowing artists to expand their portfolios while mentoring and exposing others to their work and contributing to overall community health and collective expression.

2) I am committed to Creative Saskatchewan and to creating market opportunities and access for artists from our Province and for including opportunities in trade missions where appropriate

3) I am committed to the maintenance of festival funding, which creates not only many important exposure opportunities for artists, but has numerous economic and social spin offs in communities all over the province

4) I am committed to personally championing and promoting excellence in the arts through my own platform as an elected leader

•         all children in Saskatchewan have access to excellent arts education?

I am not sure what you mean by this question.  It assumes they do not now, which I do not agree with.  I myself was taught art in high school by Wilf Perrault.  There are numerous artist in residence programs, many of which are in schools and community centres, and many local arts spaces in music (i.e., the Conservatory or the Mackenzie) have arts programming.



Received from Ms. Koch on January 8, 2018 the following:

Hi Dr. Kathryn Ricketts,

Thank you very much for the kind words and for reaching out on this important topic. 

First of all, I’d like to commend the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance on the tremendous work and effort in advocating for arts in our province over the past 31 years. Having one collective voice is so important. I appreciate the support and passion that you and other members of the SAA have for the arts community and the influence you continue to have.

I am absolutely included in the 95% of Canadians that agree that the arts make communities a better place to live as well as the 92% of Saskatchewan people that attended a live performance/arts event in the previous year. My family and I attend numerous performances throughout the year and have close relatives that frequently perform in many of these events. Both of my daughters have also had the privilege to participate in the arts community.

I am committed to growing our economy and with a strong economy, there will be jobs to help our people be successful. It means ensuring that we are consistently maintaining a suitable labour market and offering appropriate training in the province in a number of industries. Our province’s post-secondary institutions continue to do a great job in offering a variety of programs in the arts industry. It’s important that as we move forward, we’re regularly reviewing course availability and market conditions to remain competitive and relevant.

I am also dedicated to having a strong education system in Saskatchewan. My Vision for 2030 includes creating a province of learning. Arts education is an important part of our education system and I agree that every child deserves an arts education. Just as important as it is for students to learn about history, practice writing and participate in sports is the chance to gain an appreciation for the arts. Based on my own experience, and the experience of my children, I’m sure the highlight for many students throughout their primary schooling is the time they got to make a clay mug or the time they performed in the school play. Cultivating innovative minds and creativity is an essential step as we look forward to a resilient, adaptable and nimble province. 

I recognize the positive impact of provincial government investment through various organizations and the additional benefit of federal funding. In order to fully understand the current climate and what is required for success and longevity of arts education and opportunities for artists, I would need to consult with those affected: students, teachers, industry as well as interested individuals and organizations in the arts community.

I appreciate the importance that SAA places on inclusivity. In my previous role in the public service, I focused a lot of energy on ensuring an inclusive workplace. I plan to continue doing the same for our province if elected premier. Saskatchewan’s motto is “from many peoples, strength”. It is the foundation of our province’s success. We are better when we work together. People are Saskatchewan’s greatest resource. Our people are resourceful and resilient. We are a community that gives back, volunteers, works hard, cares, innovates and embraces diversity.

To reach our goals of the future, we must all be part of the solution. As government, we must empower everyone to be engaged and active citizens, contributing to our province’s prosperity. We will be inclusive, accepting all people to Saskatchewan and building on our diversity. Diversity includes a number of facets; culture, background, beliefs and more, but it’s also about our differences and uniqueness in skills, interests and abilities. Together, we will work to make Saskatchewan a desirable place for all people to have a good quality of life.

I look forward to having conversations with you and the SAA. Thank you again for reaching out.

Alanna Koch


Received from Mr. Cheveldayoff on January 3, 2018 the following (please also see the attached PDF document with the same text and original formatting):  

To:  Dr. Kathryn Ricketts, President SAA

From:  Ken Cheveldayoff, Leadership Candidate for the Saskatchewan Part

Thanks to SAA for the opportunity to respond to these important questions. I recognize and applaud the good work that your organization undertakes and advocates for on behalf of artists and arts organizations.

Q: If you are elected leader of the Saskatchewan Party, what actions will you take to ensure that: the arts sector continues to grow, providing opportunities for artists throughout the province?

Answer: To ensure a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people, I continue to support our Government’s goal of strong arts, culture and heritage sectors by promoting investment in, and providing support to the arts, culture and heritage sectors. (source: Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport 2017-18 Plan)

I am proud of the ongoing financial support that our Government has continued to invest in our arts community and to grow a creative economy in the province and to keep the sectors and stakeholders strong and viable by investing in the Saskatchewan Arts Board and Creative Saskatchewan.

In 2017 – 18 the government of Saskatchewan has invested close to $14M in Saskatchewan’s creative artists and arts organizations, albeit with modest reductions, in order to ensure that government investment remains focused on providing effective and efficient core programs and services:

  • $6.6M to Saskatchewan Arts Board – to keep our arts community strong, to enrich communities through the arts and to invest in the arts, artists, and arts organizations; and,
  • $7. 3M to Creative Saskatchewan – investing to help grow a creative economy to bring our province’s creative talent and cultural products to market including visual arts and craft, publishing, music and sound recording, live performing arts, screen – based media, and digital media. Creative Saskatchewan facilitates the expansion of a business environment advantageous to the growth of the creative industries in Saskatchewan growing new employment, investment, and production opportunities in the province.

Q: If you are elected leader of the Saskatchewan Party, what actions will you take to ensure that: all children in Saskatchewan have access to excellent arts education


  • In meeting the challenges of growth, I support the Government’s Ministry of Education goal of improving graduation rates by 2020 and to meet that target, include the renewal of curricula for high school, including grades 10-12 social sciences, arts education, practical and applied arts and physical education in French and English. (source: Ministry of Education 2017-18 Plan).
  • High Speed internet has become an essential service from an economic, educational, and quality of life- perspective in Canada. To encourage growth, renewal and service, my plan is to continue to improve access to SaskTel high speed internet with higher speeds (by 225% over five years) and fewer restrictions. This could in increased opportunities, and greater access to arts education by more students in Saskatchewan.


Received from Mr. Wyant on December 19, 2017 the following:

Dear Dr Ricketts;

Thank you very much for your email on behalf of the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance.  I am pleased to receive the information and your questions.

Should I be elected leader of the Saskatchewan Party and Premier, I will ensure the arts sector continues to grow and provide opportunities for Saskatchewan artists but first engaging in a respectful dialogue with the arts community and organizations like the SAA.  I need to hear right from artists themselves what is work and what could be improved and how the provincial government may assist our artistic and cultural communities thrive.  I believe we have a strong model in Creative Saskatchewan as a mechanism of funding and support for the arts, but it is always best to be engaged with the artists themselves to know whether it is delivering as intended.

Regarding arts education, my education platform speaks to revising the education funding model from one of dollars per student, to one of funding for school divisions based on student needs. If we are going to grow and sustain Saskatchewan’s competitive advantage, we need an approach to education and early learning that is flexible, student-focused and provides educators with the support and freedom they need to teach. Today’s classrooms are more diverse and challenging than ever before. Students come to school with different language needs, different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and different learning abilities that require accommodation and support. There are many challenges faced by students, teachers and the education system as a whole and it becomes clear: we need integrated solutions and wrap-around supports to help our young people and teachers succeed.  My belief is that arts education would be part of a wholistic focus on education by my government.  I intend to make education a priority and with that will come the funding and resources that will allow educators and students to excel, no matter what their area of study.

Thank you again for your correspondence.  Have a great evening and a merry Christmas.

Gord Wyant