Growing up in Tuktoyaktuk, Debbie Boudreau remembers that the Northern art scene wasn’t as big back then.
“There is definitely an increase with the internet (and) Facebook,” said Boudreau, who is now the Beaufort Delta’s economic development officer for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
“When I was growing up, you had the craft shop or people that you know that did their sewing and sold it out of their home. There weren’t a whole lot of outlets for them, but nowadays you can buy any kind of craft on Facebook if you’re a member of the right page. There’s a definite increase in the amount of crafts coming out of the region.”
Small items seem to be the most popular.
“Little things like a hot pad would probably sell faster than a pair of moccasins that cost $500,” said Boudreau.
She was speaking at an Arts Week celebration at Ingamo Hall Saturday, Oct. 28. The annual event is usually held in late September, but Ingamo Hall wasn’t prepared to host it until just recently.
More than a dozen people came out for the afternoon event, which offered artists an opportunity to either work on their own crafts or make projects from prepackaged materials. It also served as a chance to get the word out about some of the GNWT’s offerings for artists, such as micro-business funding that can help offset the costs of materials. Boudreau said it’s not the biggest dollar value program the department offers – usually up to a maximum of $5,000 per person over three years – but it is the most widely used.
“The cost of living, as everyone knows, in the NWT is very high and if you can have a side hustle or a way to supplement your full-time job and make a little bit more money, that’s always encouraged,” said Boudreau.
This year, she brought buffalo hide for artists to try out and see if it could be a cheaper option to moose hide.
Buffalo hide typically goes for about $7.99 per square foot while traditionally smoked and tanned moose hide can be $132 per square foot.
Jolie Wolki was busy creating a hot pad.
“It’s for your coffee cup or hot chocolates,” she explained.
Michel Lemieux, manager of trade and investment for ITI, said supporting the arts is very important.
He hoped some of the event’s participants considered other opportunities for crafts and projects.
“(The event) makes all the artists aware that they can do something else (from what they usually do),” he said.