Organizers seek to double attendance with budget of $325,000

Polar performers to headline at Alianait festival

By CHRIS WINDEYER

Adopting the theme "polar rhythms," organizers of Iqaluit's Alianait arts festival rolled out their headliners this Monday for the festival's third edition.

The theme is inspired by the International Polar Year, which is drawing thousands of scientists from around the world to both polar regions. With that in mind, organizers set out to create a lineup that is global in scope, said Heather Daley, president of the festival.

"We are working on booking [airline] tickets for 54 musicians, circus performers and storytellers from all over the world," she told reporters Monday.

Pamyua, a quartet out of Anchorage, Alaska that mixes African percussion, the Australian digeridoo, and Yup'ik and Greenlandic traditional songs, headlines an outdoor show in front of Nakasuk School June 30.

"In Alaska, the band Pamyua sells more CDs than Michael Jackson and Madonna," reads a press clipping on the band's website.

Feat, a hip hop act out of Nuuk who sound like an Arctic version of the Wu-Tang Clan, are flying in from Greenland to perform. Sami performers Berit Oskal and Ann Marie Anderson, who play polished pop music with traditional influences, are coming from Norway.

Nunavut performers include the band Katuutiit from Rankin Inlet, and the Igloolik-based circus troupe Artcirq, who will also hold workshops with local youth.

Not all performers are of northern extraction: the 10-piece Toronto band Pacande plays Colombian-style salsa music. Jean Sebastien Larobina hails from the Gaspe region of Quebec and plays a mix of Quebec and Latino folk music.

With a festival running from June 21 to July 1, capped by a massive free outdoor show spanning two days in front of Nakasuk School, Daley said there are "lots of opportunities and venues to book local acts."

While organizers have the headliners nailed down, they put out the call Tuesday for more Iqaluit acts to join the fray.

Daley said the festival isn't short on acts, but organizers want to make sure musicians in the capital get a chance to play too.

"We think we know most of them but we don't want to miss any," Daley told reporters Monday. "[During] Toonik Tyme for example we organized Northern Band Night and discovered a couple of bands that we didn't even know were here."

This year's Alianait is considerably more ambitious than last year's version, with the budget jumping from $200,000 to $325,000 this year.

"We had a bit of a struggle getting applicants from Nunavut," said Alianait marketing director Nadia Ciccone, who acknowledged the application process may have turned some Nunavut performers off.

Daley said this year marks the first time the festival has employed a selection committee to choose performers, with application forms in all four official languages mailed out across the territory and sent to select international performers.

"I think that's the way we will do it from now on," Daley said. "As we get bigger we'll be more like [Yellowknife's] Folk on the Rocks [festival] where you can apply all year round."

All this has organizers confidently projecting turnout double last year's attendance of 2,800. Daley also said organizers would like to eventually see the festival broadcast or webcast live into other Nunavut communities.

The festival also needs volunteers to help set up and tear down equipment, take tickets, work security and serve food. To contact Alianait, call the festival hotline at 979-2062 or visit www.alianait.ca.

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