Proposed 8,000-square-foot facility will house state-of-the-art digital equipment

IBC plans new media arts centre for Nunavut

By JOHN BIRD

An irreplaceable cultural treasure sits perilously on open shelves in a deteriorating wooden building in Iqaluit that the Inuit Broadcasting Corp. says has moved beyond inadequate to absolutely hazardous.

IBC's Iqaluit facility on Mivvik Street (Airport Road) – in the other half of the building that houses Baffin Flowers – holds shelf upon shelf of unprotected tapes of historic film and video footage, shot by Inuit for Inuit over the past 40 or so years – a priceless cultural record.

"In case of fire the tapes would be lost instantly," said Okalik Eegeesiak, the broadcasting corporation's president.

But IBC intends to fix that by building a new media arts centre in Nunavut's capital that it hopes will become the broadcasting hub for the territory.

The proposed 8,000-square-foot building will be Nunavut's state-of-the-art digital facility for audio, video, recording, performance and post-production.

The media arts centre would also house the Inuit Film and Video Archive, where all the old tapes – "our precious archives," Eegeesiak calls them in a promotional video – will be preserved, catalogued, digitized and stored.

IBC's current facility was built more than 40 years ago for military use. It was serving as a warehouse before IBC took it over.

"We've had mold in the past," Eegeesiak said. "The pipes freeze in the winter time."

The new media arts centre will include performance space with capacity for live studio audiences, suitable for live programming.

It will provide office space and post-production facilities for IBC's subsidiary, Inuit Communications Systems Ltd., which does contract work with government agencies, businesses, designated Inuit organizations, community organizations, social service agencies, and other non-profit groups and private broadcasters from across Nunavut and the rest of Canada.

It will also be available for use by local and territorial freelancers, performers, artists and independent production companies

"This is nothing but good news for Nunavut," Eegeesiak said in an interview.

IBC aims to have the facility built and ready to open by the spring or summer of 2011.

Although a site for the new facility has not yet been finalized, IBC is negotiating with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association for a piece of land on Federal Road, Eegeesiak said.

It's also in the early stages of fundraising for the estimated $10 million-plus project.

"We've got funding proposals in with the Government of Nunavut," Eegeesiak said, "as well as with the federal government, through the Cultural Spaces program of Heritage Canada."

She added that IBC will also pursue corporate funding, through organizations like Nunasi Corp.

Eegeesiak said IBC "was founded over 25 years ago in response to television coming into the home."

An incorporated, not-for-profit organization, it is governed by an all-Inuit board and employs 26 people in Iqaluit, Baker Lake, Taloyoak, Igloolik, Rankin Inlet and Ottawa.

It also has contracts with independent film and video artists, musicians, puppeteers, actors, performers, graphic designers, artists and translators.

"Inuit want to see programming done by Inuit, done for Inuit, and done in Inuktitut," she said.

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