Qaggiavuut’s dream of a performing arts centre inches closer to reality

Feasibility study underway to consider details of Iqaluit arts hub

This is one artist’s rendering of the proposed Inuit performing arts and cultural learning hub in Iqaluit. (Image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects)

By Sarah Rogers

With a new $500,000 federal grant and a feasibility study underway, Nunavut’s art society says the launch of the territory’s first performing arts centre is finally within reach.

Qaggiavuut! picked up the grant through Canadian Heritage’s new Creative Export Program last week, to help support the group’s vision of building a performing arts and cultural learning hub in Iqaluit.

Following a request for proposals that went out this past winter, Qaggiavuut selected a Toronto firm called Savira Cultural and Capital Projects to prepare a feasibility study to look into establishing that arts hub, with a goal of getting the project underway next year.

The arts organization is now seeking the funds to finance that study, through a private-public partnership.

The centre would serve as a venue to take in performance, film and visual art “with a focus on Inuit culture and language,” Qaggiavuut has said. The Iqaluit-based centre would also offer space for training session and a market space for artisans.

Buoyed by the success of Qaggiavuut’s production of Kiviuq Returns and Arctic Song, the group is now looking to the federal government and other territorial partners for support and partnership in the venture.

“What we need right now is our partners, to make sure their ideas are reflected in this process,” said Ellen Hamilton, executive director of Qaggiavuut.

“We just want this to be a very inclusive process and that everyone has a chance to have a say. Ideally, it will be multiple partners.”

Qaggiavuut members appeared before Iqaluit city council on Tuesday, April 23, securing the city’s future support in project consultations.

To date, the $125,000 feasibility study has been largely funded through private donations, with the remainder expected to be covered by federal arts grants the organization has applied for.

To fund the construction of the centre, the organization has asked Ottawa for about $30 million—roughly half the estimated cost of the centre’s construction.

Hamilton said the feasibility study should take about six months to complete and would make recommendations on a potential location and governance model for the centre.

That process would include consultations with different organizations in the city and territory.

If Qaggiavuut can get its partners on board, Hamilton believes construction of the new centre could begin in mid-2020.

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