Young people in Nova Scotia now have more opportunities to participate in arts and cultural activities. Through the new Cultural Opportunities for Youth Program, $150,000 will be available annually for projects that are designed specifically for, or by, youth. Previously, $88,000 was available under the Cultural Activities Program for projects involving youth. “We have tremendous young talent in this province and we want to support it,” said Len Goucher, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. “We also recognize the social value of arts and culture. Exposing youth to cultural activities and encouraging them to participate can empower them, build self-esteem, and engage them in their communities in new and creative ways.” The Cultural Opportunities for Youth program will provide grants of up to $5,000 for projects that will help build young audiences for arts and culture activities, strengthen community ties through cultural events, and to develop artistic skills through activities such as workshops, information exchanges or mentorships with professional cultural workers. The program is based on recommendations from the Nova Scotia Arts and Partnership Council. “We’re very pleased with this new program,” said Paul Gallant, chair of the council. “Until now, youth were addressed indirectly through other culture-funding programs but this program highlights how important they are to the future of arts and culture in Nova Scotia. We need to support a lifelong interest and the pursuit of artistic excellence in our youth.” An external assessment panel of two culture sector representatives, including at least one youth, and a departmental staff member, will review the applications and make funding recommendations. Cultural Opportunities for Youth is project-based funding. Provincial arts organizations that provide ongoing arts and cultural programming for youth can apply for operating grants through the Operating Assistance for Cultural Organizations Program. In addition to these funding programs, the department supports a number of other programs that foster artistic and cultural development in youth, including ArtsSmarts, Perform!, Writers in the Schools (WITS), Professional Artists in the Schools (PAINTS), and the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. Funding for Cultural Opportunities for Youth will be awarded four times a year. The first deadline for applications is Aug. 15. Detailed information on the program, including funding criteria and an application form, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/dtc/pubs/COY_app.pdf .