Since 1989, up to 80 visual artists and 40 performers from across the North gather each summer in Inuvik to celebrate the diversity that is Canada's North. They are Inuit, Inuvialuit, Gwich'in, Dene, Metis and many of Canada's additional First Nations, as well as non-Aboriginal artists and artisans; they come from as far away as Pangnirtung on Baffin Island, Gjoa Haven in the Arctic Archipelago, Fort Smith on the NWT/Alberta border, and from the Yukon Territory. They come to show their work, meet other artists, see different styles of work and learn new techniques.
The First Great Northern Arts Festival was held in July, 1989. It is an annual event occuring in mid-July and lasts for approximately 10 days. At inception, the festival hosted 35 artists from the Northwest Territories. In the 13th year, the Festival hosted 92 artists from across the Canadian North, as well as 14 musicians and performers, from as far away as Alaska, the Orkney Islands of Scotland, and the Yucatan in Mexico.
The unique circumstances of Northern artists cannot be over-emphasized. No other region of Canada is faced with the same challenges in terms of isolation, prohibitive cost of travel to other communities or regions of the country, unavailability of such basic requirements as art supplies, or professional services of photographers for the production and maintenance of portfolios. The list is endless and what is taken for granted in the South, is often unavailable or prohibitively expensive in the North. The Festival has sought to provide Northern artists, as much as possible, with many of the same advantages and experiences enjoyed by their Southern peers.
Local visitors and world travellers alike, from Japan, Germany and Denmark, from New York to San Francisco, and Canadians from sea to sea to sea, appreciate the chance to see such a variety and range of talents in one location. Australian visitors to the Festival commented: "This is absolutely fabulous! We have come a long way and would not have missed it for the world."
We are planning steadily, fielding calls and receiving applications on a daily basis to help make this another year of success in the Celebration of Northern Arts and Culture. Join over 120 visual and performing artists under the midnight sun at the Great Northern Arts Festival: the premiere visual arts event North of 60°.