Edmonton-based Indigenous arts collective to formally launch Thursday
'It gives up-and-coming Indigenous artists a chance to showcase what they have'
Dawn Marie Marchand has seen the need for an Indigenous arts collective in Edmonton since at least 2010.
Now, in 2018, she's on her way to help create that collective for Indigenous artists to share ideas and a common platform.
"We tried a few times to get something going and it just happened that this time was the right energy in the city to make it happen," Marchand told CBC's Radio Active.
The Indigenous Artist Market Collective (IAM) is having its official launch Thursday at the ATB Arts and Culture Branch on Jasper Avenue thanks in part to support from the City of Edmonton and End Poverty. But the collective has been active since the summer, cycling artists through various markets in the city.
The collective has three or four artists at the 104th Street market every Saturday to showcase and sell their work.
It started with an engagement session with Indigenous artists. "We specifically asked them what their barriers were — why were they not in mainstream markets?" Marchand said.
Some of the barriers include a lack of access to materials, access to knowledge on how to grow their business and a struggle to maintain a large volume of work to show off.
All artists might face similar barriers, but Marchand said they are harder to overcome for Indigenous artists.
"Indigenous artists have a tendency to be more marginalized," she said. "I can't say that [the barriers] don't apply to all artists, but we definitely feel it more intensely."
In the engagement session, Marchand said the collective came up with ways to combat each obstacle, including a swap meet every couple of months where artists can trade materials and organizing seminars to help Indigenous entrepreneurs expand their business.
After that engagement session, Marchand said the collective snowballed from there.
Helps up-and-coming artists
John McGillis has been playing music since the 90s — and in that time, he's seen the need for an Indigenous arts collective.
"It gives up-and-coming Indigenous artists a chance to showcase what they have," McGillis said.
BrokeFix, McGillis's band based in Enoch Cree Nation, will be playing their first-ever gig at the collective's launch party Thursday.
McGillis put his band on hold when he was younger to raise his kids. Now that his kids are older, he's returned to performing, something he said he loves more now than he did back then.
He said the collective gives him a chance to work alongside other artists, share materials and have support from his peers.
"A lot of people don't get the chance that this is offering," he said.
It's one of the reasons Marchand said the collective was long overdue. Her next step is to raise some funds to work through some legalities around officially starting the collective — which she hopes will be completed sometime early next year.
"We have a lot going for us, but we'd really like to get into that place of solidifying our co-operative," Marchand said.
The launch for the IAM collective starts Thursday at 5 p.m. at the ATB Arts and Culture Branch.