New campaign seeks national support for Cape Dorset cultural centre


“Inuit art is for me a great ambassador for our country”


This is what the interior of Cape Dorset's new Kenojuak cultural centre and print shop would look like. (IMAGE COURTESY OF PANAQ DESIGN)
This is what the interior of Cape Dorset’s new Kenojuak cultural centre and print shop would look like. (IMAGE COURTESY OF PANAQ DESIGN)

A fundraising campaign to build a new cultural and art space in Cape Dorset, launched just weeks ago, is already more than one third of the way toward its $3 million goal.

The Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop is a 10,000-square-foot facility, set to open in 2017, which will house a modern print shop, exhibition space and teaching centre for local and visiting artists.

The centre will replace Nunavut’s oldest art and printmaking centre, the West Baffin Co-op’s Kinngait print shop, which opened in Cape Dorset in 1959.

The centre’s fundraising committee, coordinated by the Inuit Arts Foundation and Canadian Guild of Crafts, has already amassed $1.2 million. Members are hoping to raise $3 million towards the centre’s construction, estimated to run about $10 million in total.

The campaign got a boost from its new chair, Paul Demarais III, vice president of the Montreal-based Power Corp., along with Montreal philanthropist Constance Pathy — both self-described as fans and collectors of traditional and contemporary Inuit art.

With their support, the campaign has been able to reach out to donors across the country.

While the new centre will provide a big boost to Cape Dorset’s local economy, Desmarais called the project one of “national and international importance.”

“Inuit artists have gained increasing acceptance by international curators,” said Desmarais in an April 9 release. “Inuit art is for me a great ambassador for our country.”

Over the coming months, Desmarais and his campaign team will meet with interested corporations, foundations and individuals across Canada in an attempt to meet that $3 million fundraising goal.

The remaining $7 million is expected to come, in part, from federal and territorial governments, Inuit organizations and the Hamlet of Cape Dorset, with roughly $1.8 million secured so far.

The buildings that currently serve as studios in Cape Dorset were constructed in the 1970s and have become run down over the years.

While eight to 10 artists can currently work in both the co-op’s stone cut and lithography studios, a new centre will provide a less cramped space for a new generation of artists who are producing larger-sized pieces, say co-op staff.

The other part of the new facility will serve as a heritage centre, where the co-op plans to finally display its permanent collection which, until now, has been scattered between Nunavut and southern Canada.

The building was designed by Iqaluit’s Panaq design and the Montreal-based architectural firm, Fournier, Gersovitz, Moss, Drolet and Associates, which produced the designs for Iqaluit’s yellow airport terminal and, more recently, several new airport terminals in Nunavik, as well as the future Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay.

The centre’s new name honours one of Kinngait’s most famous residents: renowned artist Kenojuak Ashevak, who passed away in 2013.