Organizers get ready for the show
Great Northern Arts Festival hitting high gear

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Inuvik ( May 26/00) - The Great Northern Arts Festival staff are already gearing up for another showcase of Northern talent.

Co-ordinator Marilyn Dzaman said they are just getting started on confirming talent, producing printed material and suffering the first bout of anxiety.

"We're right in the middle of the first panic of the year," she laughed.

Panic aside, Dzaman said they have the scheduling and formula down after years of putting on the festival.

"We do have a format that works very well," Dzaman said, adding that they're fine-tuning certain parts of the celebration.

"Our goal for this year is to refine all the aspects of the festival," she said.

"We've got many components and some were given more attention in the past -- particularly the visual arts, which are the foundation of the festival -- but we have many other good elements and now is the time to start bringing them up a level."

This year, the team plans to bring more music to the event, showcasing artists who are also musicians and more traditional sounds. Although not yet confirmed, Dzaman said they hope to have the Aklavik, Tuk and Inuvik drummers together on the stage.

"The first time I ever heard drum dancing was at the Northern Games in '91 and there were many, many dancers and drummers and it was unforgettable," she said.

Another area of refinement will be with the more practical, wearable art that has become so popular in the North.

"The fashion show has always been a very big part of the festival and that's one of the things I'm really excited about this year," Dzaman said. "We are taking that to an entirely new level this year."

Dzaman said Tsiigehtchic's Bob Mumford will be in charge of evening entertainment and Margaret Donovan will be the fashion show director.

Featured designers will include Fort Simpson's D'Arcy Moses, Margaret Donovan, and Brandy Wilson from Inuvik, who unveiled her first collection at last year's festival.

"We will have a stage, a set, lighting and whatever Bob and Margaret can dream up," Dzaman said, smiling.

"And this year we have Bob Mumford putting on the jam session, so we know we're going to have a good jam."

One of this year's highlights will be with Tanya Tagaq-Gillis from Cambridge Bay, a graduate of fine arts who works mainly in oils and digital media. This year, she'll share one of her other talents.

"She will be offering throat singing workshops, which will be an absolute hoot," Dzaman said.

As with past years, they will reach their accommodations peak with about 80 artists visiting. Dzaman urges all residents to call the GNAF office if they can billet artists.

"Accommodation is our biggest challenge; every year it gets more and more precarious," she said. "At one time we had the use of Grollier Hall for nothing, where we were able to put up 60 artists."

"When Grollier Hall closed we had to go to Aurora College and at that time we had 42 rooms there, but since then, they've had to convert a lot of their rooms to offices.

So, right now, we can only get about 30 rooms at the college."

Marnie Hilash, who has participated in previous festivals, is helping co-ordinate the event. She said the housing at Grollier was well-suited to the festival's atmosphere.

"The nice thing about Grollier was we really had a community happening. We were all rooming together and sharing the bathroom and stuff," she said.

Her counterpart agreed.

"That is the most important part of the festival.

Giving the artists from across the North an opportunity to meet each other. To make friends and create networks among themselves," said Dzaman.