The 2011 Games welcomes Nova Scotian artists Chris O’Neill and Ken Schwartz as artistic directors of the National Artist Program. Ms. O’Neill and Mr. Schwartz are co-CEOs of CoastArts Association and co-founders of the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts and Two Planks and a Passion Theatre. Sharing the role of artistic director, they bring decades of award-winning theatre and cultural education experience to the young artists participating in the program. Ms. O’Neill, winner of the 2010 Valley Arts Award, said she and Mr. Schwartz are excited about the role young Canadian artists have at the Canada Games. “We are thrilled to be able to share in the development of these young people as dedicated artists and colleagues,” said Ms. O’Neill. “They were all chosen through a competitive process, meaning that they represent the best of the art in their home provinces and territories.” The National Artist Program will bring together 39 emerging artists to collaborate in a two-week residency, finishing with a Gala performance. Each province and territory will select three artists to be members of their provincial or territorial teams for the 2011 Canada Games. The program offers young artists a unique opportunity to practice their chosen craft, under the mentorship of leading Canadian artists in a collaborative, cross-discipline setting. “They will be pushed as hard as the athletes at the Games in the pursuit of excellence in what they do — from traditional and non-traditional visual arts disciplines, to dance, theatre, music and literary arts,” said Mr. Schwartz. The young artists will attend the opening ceremony and a number of Games competitions before travelling to the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts for several days. The artists will return to Halifax to conduct art workshops for youth and to continue working on their gala performance. The 2011 Canada Winter Games will be the largest multi-sport event held in Nova Scotia and Halifax’s first Canada Winter Games. From Feb. 11 to 27, 2011, more than 2,700 athletes will compete in more than 20 sports, attracting thousands of visitors, VIPs, officials and media. Held every two years, alternating between summer and winter, the Canada Games are a key event in the development of Canada’s young athletes, producing the next generation of national, international and Olympic champions.