Cape Dorset fundraising campaign gets a boost

“He is helping us realize our dream of having a modern place for our artists to work”


This is what the interior of Cape Dorset's new Kenojuak cultural centre and print shop would look like. (IMAGE COURTESY OF PANAQ DESIGN)

This is what the interior of Cape Dorset’s new Kenojuak cultural centre and print shop would look like. (IMAGE COURTESY OF PANAQ DESIGN)

A national fundraising campaign to support a new cultural centre and print shop in Cape Dorset will get a boost this week with a “giant community bingo” game and a visit to the Baffin community by its Montreal-based chairperson.

Paul Demarais III, the vice-president of the Power Corporation of Canada, is in Cape Dorset this week to meet community and project leaders and to stir up interest in the Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop, named for the community’s most famed resident, the late artist Ashevak Kenojuak.

Desmarais, who calls himself a “passionate collector of traditional and contemporary Inuit art,” is leading a Canada-wide campaign to raise $3 million towards the centre, estimated to run $10 million in total.

Since the beginning of the year, the private campaign has raised about $1.5 million towards the project, with the help of the Inuit Art Foundation and other Nunavut-based organizations.

“We are honoured to have Mr. Desmarais in Cape Dorset and to show him our land and who we are,” said Cape Dorset mayor Padlaya Qiatsuq in a May 20 campaign release.

“He is helping us realize our dream of having a modern place for our artists to work, a place for people to gather, learn and story tell, and a place where we can preserve our history, culture and heritage.”

To kick off Desmarais’ visit, the community will host a giant fundraising bingo game May 21 at the local Sam Pudlat school, starting at 7:00 p.m.

Desmarais will stay in Cape Dorset until May 24, before flying to Iqaluit to promote the project to Nunavut’s leadership, the release said.

Over the coming months, Desmarais and his campaign team will meet with interested corporations, foundations and individuals across Canada in an attempt to meet that $3 million fundraising goal.

The remaining $7 million is expected to come, in part, from federal and territorial governments, Inuit organizations and the Hamlet of Cape Dorset, with roughly $1.8 million secured so far.

The new 10,000-square foot facility is scheduled to open in 2017.

As its name suggests, the new Kenojuak cultural centre will house space for artists to work and sell their art, a teaching space, as well as a heritage pavilion to display some of the community’s history.

The new facility will replace the West Baffin Co-op’s Kinngait studios, first established in 1959 and the oldest professional printmaking studios in the country.

The buildings that currently serve as studios have become run down over the years.

While eight to 10 artists can currently work in both the co-op’s stone cut and lithography studios, a new centre will provide a less cramped space for a new generation of artists who are producing larger-sized pieces, say co-op staff.

The other part of the new facility will serve as a heritage centre where the co-op plans to finally display its permanent collection which, until now, has been scattered between Nunavut and southern Canada.

The building was designed by Iqaluit’s Panaq design and the Montreal-based architectural firm, Fournier, Gersovitz, Moss, Drolet and Associates, which produced the designs for Iqaluit’s yellow airport terminal and, more recently, several new airport terminals in Nunavik, as well as the future Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay.

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