Action in the arts
Iqaluit overrun with creative activity

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Aug 30/99) - Beth Beattie is pretty hyped right now. The co-ordinator of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association (NACA), which was formed only a year ago, can see the results of action all around her. But it was a long time coming.

"At the Cape Dorset carving conference held last October, different issues were brought forth, which had been brought forth for many years in the past," she begins.

"The same problems, the same concerns, and they get put in a report and then they get put on a shelf. And nothing comes of it. It's just a report. Yes, we know those are concerns. Yes, we're aware of them. But nothing happens. Or little happens."

NACA was formed precisely to be a voice for artists. Their mandate is also to offer a variety of services -- help with grant applications, workshops, etc. -- to enhance Nunavut artists' work experience. An opportunity was presented to the association and they ran with it.

"Aboriginal Business Canada came to Sustainable Development looking for someone to put on one of their business conferences. They were looking at doing something in arts. They've done that in Vancouver, and probably other places," explains Beattie, adding that they worked out how the concerns from the Cape Dorset conference could be worked into this particular conference.

"At the same time, we need to have our annual general meeting, let's do that," she says, remembering the process.

"We'd like to have an art exhibit because people at the conference said we really want to have a festival here similar to Inuvik. Let's do one of those."

And so they did. All in one jam-packed, three-day period.

"The thing is, if you're gonna fly people around, those are enormous amounts of money. Like from Sanikiluaq and Gjoa Haven and Grise Fiord and all these places. It costs a fortune. You make the best of it by having as things happen at the same time."

There were also eight artists already in town for the summer carving symposium (Our Life in Stone) taking place in town.

"We bring in people for the annual general meeting. We bring in people for the conference. We bring in people for the art exhibit -- all rolled into one, we'll have that many more artists in town at once," Beattie elaborates on the logic.

There were many concerns dealt with at the conference: health and safety issues, marketing your art work and approaching galleries, pricing your artwork, looking for funding, copyrights, insurance, accounting and business plans.

"And the Internet," adds Beattie. "The fact that there's a lot of information on the Internet and the ability to advertise on that Net."

The AGM was a success, with an attendance of over 40 artists as well as the art exhibit, which involved a sale and demonstrations.