Six-week countdown to Alianait and stellar mix of Southern and Northern stars

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The 2017 Alianait Arts Festival features two performances of Kiviuq Returns, featuring the cast of Pakak Innuksuk, Damien Tulugarjuk, Lois Suluk, Taqralik Partridge, Christine Tootoo, Kuuri Panika, Vinnie Karetak and Natashia Allakariallak, with directors Sheena Akoomalik and Martha Burns.
photo courtesy of Mark Aspland

Iqaluit – With $175,000 in core funding arriving in time for its 13th festival, and a fresh website, Alianait is in very good shape as the six-week countdown begins.
The Iqaluit festival begins June 29 with a pre-festival kick-off concert featuring headliners The Joel Plaskett Emergency with special guest, and father, Bill Plaskett, and Nunavummiuq Riit Mike opening. The festival proper follows starts June 30 and runs to July 3.
“We have core funding for the first time from EDT (Economic Development and Transportation). Assuming we do well, it will continue,” said executive director Heather Daley.
“It’s for the basics – salary and rent and stuff like that. Not the sexy stuff. We get funding from all levels of government for programming and all the other costs of putting on a festival, concerts and doing everything we do.”
That list includes mental awareness tours and training, as well as concerts throughout the year.
“All of that costs a lot. We’ve built up Alianait and we are doing things year-round, we are working with other communities,” she said.

Riit Mike, whose recently released single is the first Inuktitut song to get airplay on CBC’s Radio 2, will open Alianait’s June 29th pre-festival kick-off show featuring The Joel Plaskett Emergency with special guest Bill Plaskett.
photo courtesy of Mark Aspland

“So for the future of Alianait, the core funding will make sure it’s sustainable.”
For Daley, who plans on retiring after next year’s festival, this means the festival is secure and can be passed on to another set of devoted hands who will work for the volunteer board.
Alianait now has two full-time employees: executive director and festival coordinator.
On the new website, the news section keeps people updated and festival CDs are for sale, however – hint hint – it’s also where those interested can volunteer.
“We’re looking for volunteers. People can sign up right on the website. Included in the volunteering is billeting artists, driving artists – which is really fun. There are all kinds of roles and people can just sign up and let us know what they’re interested in helping with,” said Daley.
“Just say what they want to do, when they’re available, and we take it from there.”
As for the festival itself, the line-up is a selection of some of the finest performers from around the world. Quite the feat for an event staged at Nakasuk School and a big-top tent in the school’s parking lot.
“I’ve been to other festivals where they have seven stages, they want to stay, they can get up and walk around, get something to eat, come back, hear some more music … Well, we can’t do that here. So when you’re sitting in a gym in an uncomfortable chair for three hours, but it’s a world festival … I want my audience to feel they’ve been around the world,” she said.
This year’s line-up includes performers from Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Nunavik, Greenland, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and South Carolina.
“When you include all the locals, and not talking individual people, but bands and stuff, we usually have about 25 to 30 (performances),” said Daley.
Sylvia Cloutier will lead this year’s collaboration, which involves artists working together over two days to create an original piece together.
Main-stage shows in the gym are ticketed. The big-top tent activities taking place all day long July 1 to 3 are free.
“And, of course, we’ll have workshops. We always have workshops. And they’re all free.”

  • FACT FILE:
    Artists scheduled to appear at Alianait 2017:
    The Joel Plaskett Emergency with special guest Bill Plaskett
    Riit Mike
    Elisapie Isaac
    Naneruaq
    Inger Hansen
    Digawolf
    Kobotown
    Kelly Fraser
    Big Little Lions
    Northcote
    Kiviuq Returns
    Ranky Tanky
    Nomadic Massive
    Sylvia Cloutier