Speak Up: A Call to Action

SAA Panel Discussion

Speak Up: A Call to Action

Saturday, September 21, 2013 | 2:00 pm | The Refinery | 609 Dufferin Avenue  | Saskatoon, SK.

Simply stated, the arts in all its disciplines are important. They strengthen social bonds and communities, they allow both groups and individuals a means to express themselves and they establish a sense of identity within a community that can be expressed at home and abroad.

With this said, advocacy of the arts is also important. It can help elected representatives, institutions, service groups, community leaders and fellow citizens understand the impact of the arts and cultural sector and show how increased arts engagement and activities benefit their communities:

“[It] is time that all of us who care about the arts – both within and outside the arts community – join together and take action… [It] is not enough to preach to the converted. It is not enough to talk about this at arts conferences. The only way we will succeed in obtaining sustained investment in the arts – from all levels of government and the private sector- is by bringing the evidence and the arguments directly before the people who hold the purse-strings.”

John Hobday

Director, Canada Council for the Arts, 2004 Chalmers Conference

Advocacy matters, which is why the SAA will be presenting Speak Up: A Call to Action, a panel discussion on arts advocacy and tips on how to speak to elected officials.


Marcus Miller has worked across Canada as a curator, writer, artist and a teacher. Until August 2011 he served as Director of Galleries for the City of North Battleford where he curated Portraits: Painting, Face-Pulling and Storytelling featuring paintings by Allen Sapp and historical portraits of Aboriginals from the Drumming Hill Collection. At the Art Gallery of Alberta (2006-09) he curated a number of thought provoking exhibitions including The New Flâneurs: Contemporary Urban Practice and the Picturesqueand a major survey of Edmonton artist: Sylvain Voyer (founder of Latitude 53). The New Flâneurs combined historical artwork and a new video installation by walking artist: Don Gill, with popular urban phenomena like Parkour, Geocaching and Urban Exploration. He designed a modular presentation system of platforms, walls, ramps, desks and seats that mimicked Parkour “obstacles” and invited spectators to engage their bodies as they experienced pictures and texts. Miller has lectured at Carleton University (Ottawa) in the Department of Architecture and Concordia University (Montréal) with graduate and undergraduate courses in the contemporary art. He continues to write art criticism for a wide range of readers: until 2005 as the Montréal Correspondent for Contemporary Magazine (London), as well as Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Blackflash and the Canadian Medical Association Journal, among many others.


Madeleine Blais-Dahlem began writing in 1991, studying creative writing at the University of Saskatchewan with Maria Campbell and David Carpenter. She later joined Le Cercle des écrivains at La Troupe du Jour. La Troupe produced Foyer in 2005, Les vieux péteux in 2008 and La maculée in 2011. La maculée/sTain has been recognized in English at the Nightwood Theatre Festival of new Plays in 2009 and the Women Playwrights International Conference in Stockholm Sweden in 2012. The LTDJ production was showcased at Zones théâtrales at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa in 2011. Blais-Dahlem was awarded the 2011 SATAward for Outstanding Playwriting. A bilingual publication by La Nouvelle Plume has just been short-listed for the Saskatchewan Book Awards.

Charlie Clark is a third term City Councillor for Ward 6 in Saskatoon.  He lives in Nutana with his wife, Sarah Buhler, and my three kids, Simon, Ben and Rachel.  He grew up around artists as his mother was the Director of the Art Gallery of the Soth Okanagan in Penticton, BC for several years and his grandmother was a lifelong visual artist.   Among other civic boards and committees, Charlie sits on the Board of the Mendel Art Gallery/Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan, the Marr Residence Board of Management, the Albert Community Center Board of Management, and the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee.  Charlie has worked in adult education and mediation for the last decade and in addition to political work also works in the CBO sector with organizations to develop communications and strategic initiatives. 

Grant McConnell lives and works with his wife and 3 children in Saskatoon, Sk.  Born in York County, Ontario, he has lived in Saskatoon since 1981. He studied Fine Arts at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick before completing an MFA at the University of Saskatchewan in 1994.

He is known primarily for his acrylic on wood painting derived from an ongoing investigation of subject matter related to Canadian historical themes. This work varies in approach and media, from a meditative engagement with still life through to landscapes chosen for their social or political significance. He also works in bronze and monument design.

His work has been exhibited across Canada and abroad, and has been purchased into public, corporate and private collections in Saskatchewan, Canada and the United States. He has served as Provincial Representative of CARFAC Sask., and is currently president of CARFAC National. He has also served as a board member on the Saskatchewan Arts Board. He currently teaches studio and art history at St. Peter’s College in Muenster, Sk., and at the University of Saskatchewan. His next exhibition, 'This House', with artist Wilf Perreault, opens at Nouveau Gallery in Regina October 10th.