Rankin arts training centre enters fifth year
“Instead of dealing with art as industry, we deal with it from the ground up”
Rankin Inlet’s had good news to share this week: the Canada Arts Training Fund said it will give $50,000 to the centre.
The fund, distributed by the federal department of Canadian Heritage, supports non-profit organizations that offer arts training at the community level.
And Kangirqliniq, incorporated in 2002, the non-profit educational arm of the local Matchbox Gallery, falls into this category.
The news about the $50,000 earmarked for Kangirqliniq didn’t come as a total surprise to Kangirqliniq’s co-director, Jim Shirley, because the money was approved last year as part of continued funding for the centre’s arts and literacy training programs.
“But we appreciate it so much, because without [that funding], we wouldn’t exist,” Shirley said.
This is the fifth year that Kangirqliniq will receive money from the same fund to support its training initiatives, he added.
Shirley started the Matchbox Gallery in 1987 as a private business, slowly drawing local artists into a ceramics program that is unique to Nunavut.
Through the 1990s, Matchbox offered workshops in printmaking, painting and carving to artists in Rankin Inlet and throughout the Kivalliq region.
Once Kangirqliniq was established, Shirley also developed a traditional arts and literacy program that combines art skills development with reading and math to help prepare artists to sell their own work.
Programs are taught in English and Inuktitut and often by Inuit elder artists.
To help steer its education programs, Kangirqliniq’s board of directors is made up of Rankin Inlet artists who have trained through Matchbox Gallery, Shirley said.
“We’re very proud of this program,” he said. “Instead of dealing with art as an industry, we deal with it from the ground up, by providing a nurturing environment that encourages skills and literacy.”
And through Matchbox Gallery, local artists have earned an international reputation.
Works produced for the gallery have been exhibited throughout Canada, the United States and Europe, while five pieces are part of the National Gallery of Canada’s permanent collection.
“Rankin Inlet is known for its beautiful artwork, particularly ceramics,” said Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq in a Nov. 22 release. “Our government is proud to contribute to the economic development of this part of the country by investing in the arts sector.”