Canada Council celebrates 50 years
with Day of the Arts

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | 1:56 PM ET

A Who's Who of Canadian artists, including writer Dionne Brand, choreographer Jean Grand-Maître and painter Takao Tanabe, arrive in Ottawa Tuesday to begin celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Singers, dancers, visual artists, filmmakers and musicians from across the country have been invited for a Day of the Arts to be celebrated on Parliament Hill.

Each artist represents a year in the life of the Canada Council, having either won one of the many awards administered by the council or gained a grant to help them continue working.

Jean-Louis Roux receives the Governor General's performing arts award from Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in 2004. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

They're coming together to highlight the role of the council in creating a vibrant arts scene in Canada.

French Canadian actor, translator, director and former chair of the Canada Council Jean-Louis Roux, best known for his long-running role on La famille Plouffe, is among the guests. He represents the year 1957, when he was attempting to found Théâtre du nouveau monde, where he became artistic director until 1982.

Others from the world of theatre include playwrights John Murrell and Djanet Sears, and actor and director Martha Henry.

Violinist Marc Djokic, a young Halifax soloist and chamber musician who won the council's music bank competition in 2006, is among the young musicians helped by the council. The win entitled Djokic to a three-year loan of an 1820 Joannes Franciscus Pressenda violin from the music bank.

Musicians ranging from Inuit singer-songwriter Lucie Idlout to composer John Estacio to pianist Stephane Lemelin are in Ottawa for the event.

Governor General's Award-winning writers Rudy Wiebe from Saskatchewan, Roch Carrier from Quebec and poet George Bowering from Vancouver will be joined by filmmakers such as Zacharias Kunuk from Nunavut and Sara Diamond from Toronto.

Choreographers John Alleyne, Marie Chouinard and Grand-Maître come from the world of dance, and John Shnier and Phyllis Lambert from architecture.

Governor-General's Award winners Vera Frenkel and Arnaud Maggs are among the visual artists. They all will be recognized in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the official 50 anniversary of the Canada Council.

Then they will meet with aspiring artists from high schools, universities and colleges at a mentoring conference.

The Canada Council was created on March 28, 1957, one of the recommendations of a commission on Canadian culture headed by Vincent Massey.

The council offers a broad range of grants and services to professional Canadian artists and arts groups, and also promotes public awareness of the arts.

It administers the prestigious Governor General's Awards for literature, performing arts, visual and media arts and the Killam Program of scholarly awards.

As well, the council runs the Art Bank, which holds more than 18,000 works by Canadian artists.

Canadians are also being invited to participate in the 50th anniversary celebration by writing in a national competition about their own experiences with Canadian arts.

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