Yellowknife artists may soon see new infrastructure and development opportunities, though exactly what that will entail remains to be seen.
The Yellowknife Artists Co-operative (YAC), led by Old Town Glass Works and Bike Works owner Matthew Grogono, has partnered with researchers at the University of Calgary to determine where there are gaps in the Yellowknife artistis community and what can be done to fill them.
Music programs, art space and language revitalization projects are among the ideas being discussed.
By March 15, YAC will learn if it has secured a seed grant, which would allow YAC to conduct fulsome research to determine a focus for its project. After that, the group will seek further funding to carry it out.
University of Calgary professor Jennifer Leason and research associate Erin Davies are collaborating with the cooperative to support the group’s research and establish what is feasible.
If the $15,000 seed grant comes through, it would be mostly directed towards hiring a research assistant, and Davies said running a focus group would be a key first step.
“Everyone has different ideas of what this might look like, so we would like to build a more cohesive idea of what it is we would like to see in the end,” Davies said. “As researchers, our job is to bring that all together and see what’s feasible to sustain in the long run. We don’t want to fly up and do something elaborate that the community can’t sustain in the end.”
Founded three years ago, YAC’s members insist that Yellowknife is brimming with artists whose needs are not being met.
“Our job now is to dig into research and to survey and evaluate,” Grogono said.
Last weekend’s Expedition Old Town, a series of walking tours highlighting cornerstone establishments and the neighbourhood’s history, was a way for YAC to return to the public arena.
“We wanted to do something simple, creative, and embrace the local attributes of history and art and make it accessible and free,” Grogono said.
Eight tours of eight people followed guide Roland Laufer over the weekend to the Dancing Moose Cafe, Pilot’s Monument, Weaver and Devore, Bullocks Bistro for bannock and jam, and Old Town Glassworks to make glasses with Grogono.
The tours were fully booked within days.
“We had to pull our radio ad,” Grogono said.
The event’s success, he said, further emphasizes the community’s appetite for something more.
“Just seeing the satisfaction that (participants) are getting when they leave. It tells me boy, there’s something really not being addressed here,” he said.