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NACC turns to GoFundMe to support programs

Photo courtesy of NACC. Brittany Kendo shows off her art during a workshop at Thomas Simpson Secondary School in Fort Simpson.

The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) is turning to GoFundMe after a $30,000 budget cut.

With added expenses from programming, the campaign will fund programs for youth, including art workshops.

Brittany Kendo shows off her art during a workshop at Thomas Simpson Secondary School in Fort Simpson. Photo courtesy of NACC.

This fall NACC supported a workshop called Live Your Gifts hosted by artists Kiera Kolson and Blaire Russell as part of its community outreach program. The workshop went through Fort Simpson, K'atlodeeche First Nation Reserve and Enterprise, giving youth in each community an opportunity to learn from the artists, create art and present it to their communities.

“To not only give them a chance to live their gifts and share their skills and abilities but to also help show people how precious the North is,” said artist Kolson.

She said holding these workshops are important because they build on projects that were begun by her late mother.

“By doing the first tour with NACC where my mother and I were to have had an inter-generational performance collectively but she passed. And it was through that initially where a conversation began around the workshops that I was going to be facilitating. And through NACC's willingness to partner up and support this work, I was able then to access pockets of financial support that I wouldn't have been able to access alone.”

By supporting NACC, you're not just supporting a venue, she said.

“It's supporting the shows that go on there, it's supporting the repairs that are necessary for the home and the venue to make sure that the audience and performers are safe. It's to ensure that there's financial capacity to have these types of outreach community workshops, whether its art shops, whether its performances.”

Maintaining spaces to create art are important because they bring people together.

“By people supporting the fundraising efforts of NACC, you're not only ensuring that space is still available for people to come together but its also there to encourage and support the development of other artisan spectrums,” said Kolson. “Art is such a powerful tool and when I say art I think about every possible approach.”

The goal of these workshops is to teach youth how art can be used as a healthy outlet.

“Especially when you think about the demographic we have here in the North being 65 per cent youth and then you think about the statistical data that we have around harm and you look at what is in place in terms of harm reduction,” said Kolson.

Some services have three-month waiting lists in these small communities, she said.

Last year, she was on tour with the Confederation Centre of the Arts, when one of the communities went into a state of emergency.

“It triggered me because I don't believe that this is the legacy our ancestors intended for us. I really don't,” said Kolson tearfully.

“Even for myself, as an inter-generational survivor, art has been and continues to be a healthy outlet that I utilize to continue to ground myself and maintain the direction that I want and deserve from my life.”

Kolson said she wants to continue with these workshops and continue paying it forward, because the ultimate goal is harm reduction.

“I want to do more of these workshops undeniably because watching the youth interact and engage and seeing the pride they have in their work is worth it.”

In that sense, these workshops are a form of art therapy, and provide a space where elders and youth can come together and learn from each other, said Kolson.

“That's the goal, is letting the youth know these dreams and these goals that you have just because we come from a small place it doesn't mean our expectations for ourselves have to be small.”

The crowd funding campaign to support NACC launched Nov. 9 and runs until Dec. 9. As of press time the campaign had reached $1,150 of its $10,000 goal.