William Prince: An opportunity we never dreamed
JUNO Award winning singer-songwriter William Prince, recipient of many Western Canadian Music Awards and Canadian Folk Music Awards, has also played NPR Music’s Tiny Desk, written a song for Terry Fox and appeared on multiple national television broadcasts, all during the pandemic.
From Peguis First Nation, William Prince knows the challenges of bringing live music to rural and remote communities, and was overjoyed when we approached him for this tour.
2017 JUNO Award winning singer-songwriter William Prince.
Yes there are a lot of negative impacts from Covid and we rarely write about the positive impacts.
For the Manitoba Arts Network (MAN) we have had our fair share of positive and negative and this is the first time I am writing an article about one of the positive impacts which is we have found many new funding opportunities to deliver exciting arts focused opportunities and projects that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do if it wasn’t for Covid and the lockdowns.
One of those new funding opportunities was a one-time grant from Canadian Heritage – Support for Workers in Live Arts and Music Sectors Fund.
This generous fund presented us with the once in a lifetime chance to engage Juno award winning, Manitoba folk and country singer-songwriter William Prince.
We began the in person Manitoba tour in October 2022. MAN partnered with three of our members to bring William Prince to their communities: Minnedosa Performing Arts Committee, Eastern Manitoba Concerts Association (Pinawa) and Killarney-Turtle Mountain Arts Council. All three shows were almost sold out (some limited to 50% capacity).
In November we expanded the tour to Northern Members The Pas Arts Council and Churchill adding on Misipawistik Cree Nation, Grand Rapids in between.
With Omicron peaking in January, we weren’t keen on rescheduling the December concerts, so instead we chose to go digital and are launching William Prince’s digital concert on March 31st at 7pm. Recognizing the internet challenges that exist in rural and northern Manitoba, the concert will not be livestreamed, it is pre-recorded and is available over a 48 hour period.
Manitoba Arts Network (MAN) is thrilled to be able to offer this time limited digital concert, exclusively (for free) to all First Nations and Métis communities in Manitoba, participating care homes in our Concert in Care program and to the season subscribers / members of our 50 rural and northern member arts organizations.
“I feel really at home in the North.
My family’s history stretches all the way up to Churchill, Manitoba. Playing shows along Highway 6 takes me back to my childhood playing music with my family. I’m excited to carve out my own path over the next few shows and many years to come.”
The funding MAN received provided heavily subsidized concert costs for rural and northern communities, while completely funding the concert costs for the Indigenous communities. All of these communities have never hosted William Prince before and wouldn’t have otherwise been able to bring him to their communities without this funding.
For some of these communities, it was their first live concert since Covid hit. I couldn’t imagine a better artist to feature and to return to live with!
“Not only are these concerts important for our people to watch, because we don’t get live concerts very often, which our last live concert was about seven years ago, but it is really important to inspire future musicians from our community.”
Sabrina Hanska, Community Health Representative, Birdtail Sioux First
The Fall concerts were well received, so we decided to expand and add on three concerts in December targeting Indigenous Communities that previously have worked with MAN (we had toured other Indigenous artists to this past Summer and Fall) Roseau River First Nation, Long Plain First Nation, and Birdtail Sioux First Nation.
However, our luck ran out and Covid case numbers were steadily on the rise and the communities aired on the side of being cautious and safety, postponed the live concerts..
This past year Manitoba Arts Network (MAN) has toured 10 Indigenous musicians to 35 rural and remote First Nations and Métis communities in Manitoba.
Rose-Anne Harder (she/her)
Manitoba Arts Network