It came out yesterday afternoon that Jesse Wente has been appointed Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts. I don’t know Wente personally, but I’ve been following him the last few years and he’s a great choice. For foreign readers, especially Americans, the Canada Council for the Arts is the prime cultural funding institution of our country. Like the NEA down there, but even more central and egalitarian. There’s barely a magazine, show, book, production, or any other cultural product up here, not to mention artist, that isn’t touched by the Canada Council. Wente is a smart and timely choice or the job, and is the first Indigenous person to hold the position. Big news up here that pretty much affects everyone.
Jesse Wente, a prominent advocate for an increased presence of Indigenous voices in Canada’s cultural landscape, has been appointed chairperson of the Canada Council for the Arts, for a five-year term.
Wente, an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster and speaker, has held high-profile roles in Canada’s arts communities, including executive director of the industry-led Indigenous Screen Office.
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says Wente is the first Indigenous chairperson of an organization within his federal portfolio.