Greenland centre seeks Canadian, Alaskan performers

Achieving circumpolar contact through the performing arts



NUUK – Katuaq, Greenland’s cultural centre, is looking for traditional singers and dancers from Alaska and Canada to perform in the centre’s state-of-the-art setting.

“Katuaq would like to strengthen ties with cultural institutions in Alaska and Canada by inviting traditional performers to Greenland, said Victoria Simigaq, a native of Nunavik now living in Nuuk.

“The performers, preferably drum dancers, would do a show and deliver a training workshop to the Greenlandic public,” she said.

Simigaq, a former assistant editor of Makivik Magazine, has been working for the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk for the past three months.

“I’ve seen the necessity and importance of building or strengthening relationships between circumpolar Inuit. I believe individuals have to stop waiting and expecting big organizations to start such a relationship. With personal efforts, it’s very possible to make this bridge between circumpolar Inuit a reality,” she said.

Performers from Canada or Alaska would pay their own way to Nuuk and also travel to other communities in Greenland, depending on their budgets. In return, Simigaq said, Katuaq would like to send Greenlandic performers to Alaska and Canada.

The Katuaq Cultural Centre is an independent foundation with the mandate of strengthening cultural life in Greenland through art, music, theatre and dance.

Greenland’s landscape inspired the centre’s architecture. Built in 1997 of wood and stone, the centre’s shape symbolizes an iceberg floating in a fjord.

Katuaq is the home of organizations including the Nordic Institute and Silamiut, Greenland’s national theatre. It also offers rehearsal facilities for the Nuuk City Orchestra.

It was the setting for part of the 1998 Inuit Circumpolar Conference and the 2002 Arctic Winter Games, co-hosted by Nuuk and Iqaluit.

The centre receives annual operating grants from the Greenland Home Rule government and the municipality of Nuuk. It gets support from several Greenlandic companies and organizations, and a little extra revenue from an on-site café and cinema.

But Simigaq has been looking for ways to boost the centre’s profile abroad. Ideally, Katuaq would like to start a program with Alaskan and Canadian institutions that could draw on funding from different sponsorship resources within Greenland, Canada and Alaska. In the future, Katuaq hopes to host performers from Siberia as well.

Simigaq has drawn up a description of Katuaq and the services it provides to give to musicians and members of the public. When it has been translated, it will be sent to performers and cultural institutions abroad to give them a complete picture of Katuaq.

“It was a privilege for me to take on this project. Through cultural efforts, Inuit can come closer together because they understand each other as Inuit,” Simigaq said.

“I’ve often wondered how the ancestors of Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit kept in contact. How often did they meet? Did they ever meet? Did they stop the relationship since European influence took over? Personally, I would like to take those questions and put them toward cultural celebrations instead. It will be a celebration of getting together once again.”

For more information contact Victoria Simigaq by phone at (299) 32 33 00 ext. 322, or by fax at (299) 32 33 01.

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