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Community pitches in for the arts

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (July 01/05) - Chairman of the Great Northern Arts Society Tom Lie is getting excited about this year's 17th Annual Great Northern Arts Festival.

Great Northern Arts Festival artistic director and co-ordinator Christina Wilsdon with this year's festival poster, featuring a sculpture by Inuvik artist Fred Iyak Trimble. The 17th annual festival runs from July 15 to 24. - Jason Unrau/NNSL photo

"It's only a couple weeks to go and we're gearing up," he said. "Most of the travel arrangements have been finalized and we're getting some great support."

According to Lie, things "were not looking so good" back in February but he commended fellow board members and the community for their efforts.

Although the 2005 festival budget of $385,000 is smaller than in previous years, Aurora College, Aurora Campus has donated the use of 24 of its three-bedroom residences for visiting artists.

As well, the Town of Inuvik has committed office space as a donation in kind for the planning committee to use for the next three years.

"The town has really stepped up to the table and the college has been very supportive," said Lie.

To help raise money to put on this event and future festivals, Lie says the board decided to hire an independent fundraising firm.

"It's the best thing we ever did," he added. "And it allows our people to concentrate on planning."

Festival artistic director and co-ordinator Christina Wilsdon says there will be more than 50 artists from the three territories, British Columbia, Alberta and New York State.

Wilsdon added that this year's event will pack in even more entertainment than previous years.

Yellowknife recording artist Leela Gilday - who was a standout at last year's End of the Road Music Festival - will return to perform at the Great Northern Arts Festival. Local favourites Delta Good Time Band are also on the performers bill and the Wrigley Fiddlers from Fort Smith have confirmed their attendance.

Regular events, including the fashion show, are also expected to be highlights and the premier of local filmmaker Dennis Allen's National Film Board co-production My Father, My Teacher has been much-anticipated.

"A lot of people are looking forward to that," Wilsdon said of the film that will show throughout the nine-day festival.

Wilsdon promises that workshop lineups for artists and visitors to participate in will as be plentiful as in previous years, however the workshop schedule has yet to be confirmed. Please check the festival website at www.gnaf.ca for details and scheduling.