Qaggiq, a project dedicated to supporting northern performing artists, has won the very prestigious Arctic Inspiration Prize. Qaggiq is led by the Qaggiavuut Society, a Nunavut-based arts organization in partnership with organizations across the North and southern Canada -- including the National Arts Centre.
The award, worth $600,000, will allow Qaggiavuut to develop and nurture Arctic performing artists through training programmes and mentorships. The prize will also help build a performing arts infrastructure to create more opportunities for artists to perform not only in the North, but around the world.
“This award speaks to our perseverance and belief in the North’s performing artists,” said the Qaggiq team leader, Ellen Hamilton. “We believe that Canada wants and needs the inspiration these artists provide.”
With the fastest growing population in Canada, it’s estimated that the Arctic has the highest proportion of artists in the country.
“Our problem is that Arctic performing artists are isolated from one another,” said Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, the Chairperson of the Qaggiavuut Society. “They live in places so remote, that it’s difficult to collaborate, to learn new skills, and to share their work with others.”
Nunavut, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2019, is the only province or territory in Canada that does not have a performing arts centre. It was frustration, born from the lack of a professional performing arts space that spurred the creation of the Qaggiavuut Society.
“Arctic culture was on the land only two generations ago and has gone through a huge change very quickly,” says Hamilton. ”The experience of being dragged into modernity is rich with emotion and story.”
The Qaggiavuut Society has worked in close collaboration with the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa to develop Qaggiq. The Canada Council for the Arts is a lead funding partner. Other partners include the National Theatre School of Canada, Inuit organizations, Banff Centre and the Government of Nunavut . Qaggiq team members include northern performing artists from three territories and performing arts educators.
“We’re proud of the work Northern artists are creating, it’s world class, and we are thrilled for the Qaggiavuut Society,” said Genevieve Cimon, the NAC’s Director of Music Education. “We know from the success of our music education programmes that communities thrive when the arts are at the centre of their development. We’re proud to be one of Qaggiavuut’s closest collaborators.”
“The Canada Council for the Arts is also proud to support the Qaggiavuut Society in bringing vital arts infrastructure to the North,” said Steven Loft, the Canada Council’s Aboriginal Arts Coordinator. “With its deep roots in Inuit culture and in local communities, this artist driven and community focused initiative will make a huge difference for generations of performing artists and audiences in Nunavut and across the Arctic. Our warmest congratulations to Qaggiavuut and all involved in bringing this vital activity to life.”