Working towards a stronger future
Great Northern Arts Festival working on its foundation

Anne-Marie Jennings
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 28/98) - Now that the first 10 years of the Great Northern Arts Festival have passed by, the festival is looking ahead to the future.

Tanya Van Valkenberg, the festival's program co-ordinator, says the months leading up to next year's festival will be focusing on the development of a solid business, marketing and promotional plan for upcoming festival organizers.

"While we've been running the festival for the past 10 years, there has always been one person in charge," Van Valkenberg says.

Van Valkenberg, along with administrator and fund-raiser Marilyn Dzaman, are working to create a corporate knowledge document, which will include an analysis of the festival's first 10 years. This document will serve as a vital tool for future organizers, according to Van Valkenberg.

"The festival was first organized by Charlene Alexander, who understood a lot of the financial elements of the festival. Marilyn and I don't know as much about that, but we've had Charlene to ask those questions and she has always been there to answer them."

"But if we were to get a job which would take us out of town, no one would be able to answer those questions for the person who was taking the job over from us."

The Great Northern Arts Festival received $50,000 from Human Resources Development Canada to transform the festival into a professional, self-sustaining organization.

Van Valkenberg says the total cost of the project is about $100,000, with the additional funding coming from the GNWT Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, the Royal Canadian Legion in Inuvik and other sources.

Once the project has been completed, the Great Northern Arts Festival and its organizers will have a feasibility study completed, a sustainability plan in place and a database of all the artists who have participated in the festival.

The project will also help identify new and different markets to promote the festival. One of the avenues that has been opened to the festival is Meet the North -- a conference and exposition that brings delegates from across the North and western Canada together to develop networks between people from the business community, the general public and other groups.

Van Valkenberg says that as a result of the creation of a more solid foundation for the Great Northern Arts Festival and its future, there will come a point when the festival will go on without her and others who organize the annual event.

"When people come and replace us, we won't be needed."