Prairie Scene

The largest gathering of Manitoba and Saskatchewan artists ever presented outside the Prairies!

April 26 to May 8, 2011

Media Centre

The National Arts Centre announces Prairie Scene - 500 artists, 80 events, 30 venues, 13 days

Thursday, November 18, 2010

REGINA/WINNIPEG — Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) has announced the first programming details of Prairie Scene, an eclectic, multi-disciplinary arts festival featuring 500 of the best established and emerging artists from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Prairie Scene will present 80 different events in music, theatre, dance, visual and media arts, literature, film and culinary arts in more than 30 venues in Ottawa-Gatineau from April 26 to May 8, 2011.

“We’re planning a Prairie invasion of the nation’s capital,” said Heather Moore, Producer and Executive Director of Prairie Scene. “It’s the largest gathering of Prairie artists ever assembled outside of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and we’re proud to present their performances and work on the national stage.”

Prairie Scene is the fifth in a series of national festivals produced by the NAC showcasing the wealth of arts and culture in different regions of the country. It all began in 2003 with Atlantic Scene, then Alberta Scene in 2005, Quebec Scene in 2007, and BC Scene in 2009. Now the NAC and its partners – including Presenting Partner MTS Allstream – will be turning over their performance and exhibition spaces to Prairie artists.

Part of the goal of the Scene festivals is to propel the careers of young artists by introducing them to a group of well known presenters from all over the world. Since 2003 the NAC has invited 314 presenters from 27 countries to travel to the Scene festivals to discover and book new talent, which has resulted in over 275 performance bookings and more than $1 million in fees for artists. More than 50 national and international agents, presenters and talent scouts will be there to see Prairie talent in action. Their sole mission is to find new artists for their audiences across Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Prairie Scene voices

“This festival is very close to my heart,” said Peter Herrndorf, the President and CEO of the NAC. “I grew up in Winnipeg and studied at the University of Manitoba. I got my start in the Prairies. I am personally very proud to welcome these artists to the NAC.”

“Prairie Scene will showcase our remarkable artists, our province and our enviable quality of life,” Saskatchewan Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Bill Hutchinson said. “Our investment in the festival is just another example of how the Government of Saskatchewan is implementing Pride of Saskatchewan, our new cultural policy.”

“Manitoba has a large, talented, and world-class community of artists that we can be proud of,” said Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger. “This festival will give them the national and international exposure that they deserve.”

“MTS Allstream is proud to support Prairie Scene and to showcase the best of Manitoba and Saskatchewan artists in our national capital,” said Kelvin Shepherd, President of Presenting Partner MTS. “Prairie Scene will bring people across the country together to discover the tremendously talented artists in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.”

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the National Arts Centre in this, our fifth Scene festival together,” said Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada. “CBC/Radio-Canada takes a lot of pride in the role it plays showcasing the huge talent that this country has to offer. And what better time to be doing this than as we prepare to mark the 75th anniversary of Canada's national public broadcaster.”

The programming

Today’s announcement represents about half of the full programming of Prairie Scene, with the balance to be announced in February 2011. The National Arts Centre consulted extensively with artists and arts organizations, and worked with a group of artistic advisors from the provinces to make sure that Prairie Scene faithfully reflects the diverse talent and creativity that is Saskatchewan and Manitoba today.

Prairie Scene’s multidisciplinary programming means a wide range of audiences will enjoy a tapestry of Prairie talent. There will be something for everyone, from the classics to the avant-garde, from family fare to the late-night club scene.

Music at the Scene is classical, folk, rock, blues, roots, pop and Jazz:

It’s superstar violinist James Ehnes and the critically acclaimed Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra performing at the National Arts Centre for the first time since 1971 in a program featuring new work by acclaimed Winnipeg composer Randolph Peters.

It’s Saskatchewan superstar and Canadian icon, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and her band, bringing down the house with an electrifying stage show, singing songs from her new, critically acclaimed album.

It’s the vocal textures and tight harmonies of the all-girl (and one guy) ensemble and 2009 Juno Award winner Chic Gamine, drawing on a myriad of cultural influences to create a unique roots/folk sound.

It’s a Women’s Blues revue, featuring multiple-award winning roots-based songstress Suzie Vinnick on a bill with country/blues sensation Little Miss Higgins, and hard-rocking singer/songwriters Romi Mayes and Megan Lane.

It’s violinist Erika Raum, celebrated both at home in Regina and abroad for her engaging sensitivity and gorgeously full tone, performing in a much anticipated solo recital.

It’s WCMA Outstanding Francophone Recording winner Daniel ROA, whose catchy pop rhythms belie the incisive wit of his brilliant lyrics; and ethereal electro-pop siren Nadia Gaudet.

It’s Saskatchewan-raised siblings and violinists Malcolm and Darren Lowe, concertmasters of the Boston and Quebec Symphonies respectively, playing Music for a Sunday Afternoon at the National Gallery of Canada.

It’s the spacious sound of eight-piece pop collective Library Voices; it’s iTunes “Best New Band of 2009”and Indie favourites, Rah Rah; and the traditional bluegrass, folk rock, Afro-Cuban jazz, and soul fusion of the Duhks. It’s the seductive Latin groove of Fransaskois Alexis Normand; and the smooth saxophone of Kelly Jefferson; it’s the fresh acoustic breeze of the Wailin’ Jennys; it’s the new, old-time fiddling of Karrnnel Sawitsky; the amazing picking of banjo player Daniel Koulack; and the virtuosity of 13-voice early music interpreters Camerata Nova.

... and more music to be announced in February 2011.

Theatre at the Scene is provocative and imaginative:

It’s Saskatchewan playwright and performer Gilles Poulin-Denis’ Governor General’s Award nominated road trip saga Rearview, in the critically-acclaimed production by Saskatoon’s La Troupe du Jour.

It’s Cree playwright Kenneth T. Williams’ exploration of hate in the provocative Gordon Winter, produced by Saskatoon’s Perspephone Theatre, starring celebrated screen and stage actor Gordon Tootoosis, and inspired by the life of David Ahenakew.

It’s Talk, the Governor General’s Award-nominated play written by Michael Nathanson and produced by Winnipeg’s Jewish Theatre, which takes a frank, compelling look at the dynamics of friendship and the damage caused by a difference in political opinion.

It’s Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s wonderfully imaginative play for young audiences, Russell’s World, exploring the sometimes frightening world of the latchkey kid.

It’s Jim Guedo’s tribute to Joni Mitchell in Songs of a Prairie Girl – a musical collage celebrating and endorsed by the woman who once said “Saskatchewan is in my veins.”

It’s an evening paying homage to Roland Mahé, longtime Artistic Director of Le Cercle Molière, whose influence and artistic leadership have shaped generations of Francophone theatre artists in the Prairies.

... and more theatre to be announced in February 2011.

Dance at the Scene takes us from Alice in Wonderland to Avatar and points in between:

Saskatchewan choreographer Shawn Hounsell imagines a grown up Alice in Wonderland produced by Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Prolific dance, performance and installation creator Robin Poitras and her Saskatchewan-based company Rouge-gorge inspire multiple associations with the tantalizingly titled in fur till spring.

Brent Lott and Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers explode onto the Scene with an artistic vitality fuelled by a uniquely Prairie sensibility.

Distinctive performer Claire Marchand creates a niche for Flamenco on the Canadian dance landscape.

The Scene shines a spotlight on contemporary dance in the Prairies with work by emerging dancer/choreographer of note Johanna Bundon; and by Freya Bjorg Olafson, whose Avatar is a chilling theatrical duet with technology.

... and more dance to be announced in February 2011.

The Visual Arts Scene is breathtakingly diverse:

Featuring the work of 27 artists from 13 communities across Saskatchewan, Dunlop Art Gallery’s Mind the Gap is a meticulously-curated, visual, cerebral and geographic map of the emerging arts landscape in Saskatchewan that includes the work of Wally Dion, Marc Courtemanche, and Amalie Atkins.

Winnipeg Art Gallery presents On the Edge of Experience, a significant selection of large-scale signature paintings by acclaimed artist Wanda Koop.

Noam Gonick at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art curates Winter Kept us Warm, presenting the work of multiple generations of Winnipeg-based and influenced artists from the 1960s to the present, including Diana Thornycroft, Mélanie Rocan, and Karel Funk.

The Saskatchewan Craft Council brings together the work of 33 established and emerging fine craft artists from across the province in a dynamic survey of the artform entitled Playing with Dimensions. Paul Lapointe, Michael Hosaluk and Zane Wilcox are among the artists showcased in the collection.

Gallery 101 hosts an installation of work by contemporary Aboriginal women artists from Saskatchewan and Manitoba…. and more visual arts to be announced in February 2011.

Prairie Scene will also feature the range and skill of a remarkably vibrant literary culture, along with a culinary component designed to reflect the contemporary influences and regional traditions that have shaped a unique cuisine. In addition, Scene audiences will be treated to a fascinating look at filmmaking in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with events focusing on the works of well known and up-and-coming film artists.

Further programming details in every discipline represented at Prairie Scene will be announced in February 2011.


Prairie Scene would like to thank the Government of Canada, the Government of Manitoba and the Government of Saskatchewan for their generous support of this event.

The National Arts Centre and National Arts Centre Foundation gratefully acknowledge the support of Presenting Partner MTS Allstream, Major Partner Enbridge Inc and Programming Partner The Mosaic Company. Prairie Scene Media Partners include Major Partner CBC/Radio-Canada, and Partners National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix. For their commitment to supporting Prairie arts and artists, we give special thanks to Gail Asper and Michael Paterson, the John and Bonnie Buhler Foundation, Adrian Burns and Gregory Kane, Q.C., Ian and Kiki Delaney, David and Margaret Fountain, Susan Glass and Arni Thorsteinson, Peter Herrndorf and Eva Czigler, Doris and Charles Knight, Craig and Pamela Lothian, Stefan and Magdalena Opalski, as well as Harriet and Isadore Wolfe.

The NAC Foundation also extends a warm thank you to the Prairie Scene Council, a committed group of individuals whose leadership, support and guidance are key to the success of Prairie Scene. The Prairie Scene Council is led by Manitoba Honorary Chairs John and Bonnie Buhler, Saskatchewan Honorary Chair Tami Wall, Manitoba Chair Gail Asper and Saskatchewan Chair Craig Lothian. Members include Adrian Burns, Catherine A. (Kiki) Delaney, Leslie Gales, Susan Glass and Arni Thorsteinson, Wayne Goranson and Heather Quale, Lynda Haverstock and Harley Olsen, Charles and Doris Knight, D’Arcy Levesque, Brian and Gail Saunders, Pamela Wallin, and Harriett Wolfe.

For more information about Prairie Scene or to sign up for programming updates, please consult the event website.