Lower dollar means bigger market in U.S. for Inuit art

The Canadian dollar is at its lowest value in more than 10 years, and that's good news for Inuit artists who now have a bigger market in the United States.
Alan Mullin, right, says the low dollar is actually a 'pay day' for Canadian retailers who sell art in the United States. (Tamara Pimentel/CBC)

The sharp drop in the value of the Canadian dollar is good news for Nunavut's art industry, according to people working in the business end of the sector.

The Canadian dollar dropped to its lowest value in almost 10 years on Friday, closing at below 81 cents US.

Alan Mullin, the purchasing manager at Nunavut Carvings in Iqaluit, says it does more than $1 million in sales each year.

He says the bulk of out-of-territory sales go to galleries in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, but lately there's been a spike in sales to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Fine arts would be one of the faculties at an Inuit university in Nunavut. (Tamara Pimentel/CBC)

"Especially with our dollar, the pounding that it's taking on the market, but for us in retail it's pay day," Mullin says.

Tom Chapman, the president of Upper Canada Native Art in Mississauga, says purchasing an iconic piece of Canadiana is now within reach for more American consumers.

"After the red plaid jacket and maple syrup, you know, the next souvenir of Canada is a piece of Inuit art or aboriginal art," Chapman says. 

Chapman worked for about 20 years marketing art in Nunavut and says, for the territory's art economy, there's a whole world waiting.

He says the demand for high-quality art is greater than the supply, so the lower dollar is a benefit for both artists and the people who buy their work.


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