Red Fish Art Studio draws up plan to help with funding

Executive director calls development a ‘massive win’ for community

Red Fish Art Studio program co-ordinator and executive director Mark Slatter, left, signs an agreement Monday with the Municipality of Cambridge Bay that will form the Redfish Arts Society, a new non-profit organization that will help the welding studio access funding and offer more programming to youth. Shown from left: Slatter, Redfish Arts Society chairperson Attima Hadlari, Mayor Derek Elias and senior administrative officer Jim McEachern. (Photo courtesy of Redfish Arts Society)

By Madalyn Howitt

This story was updated on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 11:15 a.m. ET.

Cambridge Bay’s celebrated Red Fish Art Studio is now part of a new non-profit society that will help it access new sources of funding.

The newly formed Redfish Arts Society is the result of a new agreement between the studio and the Municipality of Cambridge Bay, Attima Hadlari, the society’s chairperson, said in a statement released Monday.

The new funding model will allow for more creative freedom and increase opportunities to pursue more projects, Mark Slatter, the studio’s program co-ordinator and new executive director, told Nunatsiaq News.

“It’s a massive win for our community and everyone involved. It just allows us to do what we’re great at and ultimately help more kids,” he said.

The arts studio, developed in 2018 to address the needs of at-risk youth in the community, has been helping to train people aged 18 to 30 in welding.

The program currently has eight participants who, in addition to learning welding, are receiving industry training in metallurgy, safety procedures, numeracy and developing literacy skills by learning to read blueprints.

Some of the art created by participants include all the large-scale metal statues in Cambridge Bay’s Heritage Park, a three-metre Sedna sculpture that will eventually make its way to the Governor General’s gardens in Ottawa, a new detachment sign for the local RCMP and signature red fish metal sculptures that were presented as gifts to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and can be spotted throughout the territory.

Slatter said creating a non-profit society to help run the program’s administrative side will make sourcing funding for future projects easier.

“We have some crazy exciting projects that we’re working on now,” he said.

Those include welding statues to be used as awards for the Arctic Inspiration Prize, which Red Fish Arts Studio itself won in 2019; several community arts initiatives; and partnering with the Canadian Navy to create two sculptures that will be permanently inside the HMCS Max Bernays. Those are to be unveiled in November at Cambridge Bay’s Canadian High Arctic Research Station.

“We couldn’t have a greater honour,” Slatter said of that project.

The Redfish Arts Society was formed with support from the Municipality of Cambridge Bay and Sen. Dennis Patterson.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the Municipality of Cambridge Bay’s role in Redfish Society.

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