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IAF Launches Innovative New Grant Program for Inuit Artists

Jan 27, 2023
by IAQ

On January 27, 2023, the Inuit Art Foundation (IAF) launched the Kajungiqsaut Grants, a groundbreaking national funding initiative specifically for Inuit artists working across Canada that was co-designed and will be co-delivered with the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA). This new granting pilot program will distribute more than $100,000 to artists in its first year. Kajungiqsaut Grants are meant to serve Inuit artists working in every region of Inuit Nunangat as well as southern urban centres. 

IAF Executive Director Alysa Procida notes that the partnership with the CCA was a natural fit. “The Canada Council for the Arts has made strong commitments to the North in their recent strategic plan and we have worked together on many initiatives, including the 2022 Arctic Arts Summit. This new, large-scale initiative grows out of our strong working relationship and mutual commitment to creating opportunities for Inuit artists to access public funding in new, culturally appropriate and relevant ways.”  

The IAF and the CCA announced their partnership in June 2022 as a means of building on both organizations’ mutual commitments to supporting Inuit artists in all aspects of their careers. 

The CCA is Canada’s public arts funder, mandated to strengthen the presence, interactions and support for artistic and literary activity throughout the country—and specifically in the North. The IAF is the only national organization dedicated to supporting Inuit artists working in all media and geographic areas of Canada. The IAF has the existing networks to support the program and distribution of funding provided by the CCA, enabling Inuit artists direct access to their specific funding needs. “One of the objectives of this initiative was to support artists at all stages of their careers” says Procida, “which is why it was important to ensure the Kajungiqsaut Grants foster inclusivity and are especially encouraging to early career and emerging artists.”

With a first grant deadline of March 19, Kajungiqsaut—which means “encouragement to pursue aspirations” in Inuktitut—supports three funding streams: Sutaarutit (To Gain Material), Iniqarvik (To Have Space), and Tuuragaq (Vision)

The three streams strive to encompass and support artists’ artistic journey from the beginning—when artists primarily need access to materials—to having the time and space to experiment with projects and ideas, and finally to providing established artists with a foundation for fully formed and ambitious creative visions.

Having multiple funding streams for different aspects of the creative process will enable Inuit to more easily navigate applications for their specific needs. The IAF recognizes access to materials can be one of the first challenges artists face when getting started which is why Sutaarutit was established to expand on the kind of funding the Indigenous Visual Artist Materials Grant provides, while the other two streams are open to all disciplines and support a broad range of eligible activities. 

External, all-Inuit assessment committees, whose members represent diverse fields and practices within the broader arts community, will assess applications. 

A key priority in establishing the grant program was providing opportunities that will have the greatest impact for Inuit artists. The goal is not only to provide funding and support to Inuit, but also encourage artists to continue creating and sharing. 

Heather Campbell, Strategic Initiatives Director at the IAF, notes that “over the past few years we have made great strides in representation for Inuit within arts administration, but for the IAF to be a part of this funding model is a huge leap towards Inuit self-determination. Artists will be free to express themselves with less market pressures and I am excited to see how this further shapes the evolution of Inuit art.”

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