On January 30, the Inuit Art Foundation launched the Developing Qanuqtuurniq: Artist Portal (DQAP), the first ever Inuit artist-only digital space. Funded with support from the Canada Council of the Arts, the web platform was developed in collaboration with Inuit artists for their exclusive use and offers them career-building opportunities in the form of a searchable grant funding database, networking opportunities, workshops and more.
“One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we have received from artists for many years is the need to have a centralized, accessible and relevant ‘one-stop-shop’ for information about all aspects of their career development,” says IAF Executive Director Alysa Procida. “DQAP was created directly in response to those requests to try to create the most useful resource to artists possible.”
The Portal was named for the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) value of Qanuqtuurniq, which means being innovative and resourceful. “The ‘Q’ of the logo does double duty,” says Heather Campbell, Strategic Initiatives Director, explaining that the image references Qanuqtuurniq and simultaneously resembles an Inuit drum and an iglu seen from above. “The centre of the Q represents the key block of the iglu that holds everything up. It symbolizes our view that art is at the centre of everything we do, and our mission to provide support to artists to help build their careers.”
Guided by Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, DQAP’s development was overseen by a Digital Advisory Committee composed of Inuit artists Eldred Allen, Thomassie Mangiok, Dayle Kubluitok, Dez Loreen, Robert Kautuk and Iñupiaq and Athabascan artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs and involved extensive community feedback from Inuit across Inuit Nunangat and Southern Canada.
This feedback identified three primary areas of need: community connection, easy access to funding opportunities and professional development opportunities.
Many artists struggle to navigate the complexities of the art world, but Inuit artists often face additional barriers, particularly since communities across Inuit Nunangat have limited access infrastructure, including internet connectivity. Arts infrastructure like local galleries and museums, art schools, professional development resources and even communities of other artists can be difficult to reach without prohibitively expensive travel, leaving Inuit artists without the same access to professional opportunities as their peers.
"We wanted to connect artists who have questions with those who can provide answers," says Allen. "A platform that can do that will prove to be an invaluable resource."
Accordingly, the Portal was designed to facilitate networking, allowing Inuit artists to indicate their interest in discussing challenges, initiating collaborations and creating mentorships.
Recognizing the difficulties artists face when searching for grants and understanding eligibility requirements, DQAP also compiles grant information from funding bodies across Canada into a single funding database that is searchable by artistic medium, location and deadline.
“We heard from so many artists how overwhelming applying for grants can be,” says Artist Portal Coordinator Alessandra Montefiore. “It is astonishing how many grants are actually available to artists, but until now there wasn’t a centralized resource for Inuit artists to find them and easily see if they are eligible.”
Beyond connecting with other artists and accessing funding, the Portal will also serve as a home for events and culturally specific workshops, featuring a library of past event recordings and resources as well as information about upcoming opportunities artists can sign up to attend. Highlights from the resource catalogue already available on the Portal include the Illisarniq career development workshop series and the De-ICE-Olation material and skill learning series (both produced in partnership with Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership), as well as Conversations, a series of in-depth talks between Canadian and Alaskan Inuit presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Centre.
While more functionality is to come in the future, the Developing Qanuqtuurniq: Artist Portal is currently available to all Inuit artists 18 years of age and older. To become a Portal member, visit inuitartfoundation.org/portal.