NWT art and craft fairs adapting to Covid-19 are being met with an enthusiastic response from the territory’s residents.
The pandemic initially cast doubt on the ability of some fairs to operate. Ordinarily, the events are packed with residents eager to shop ahead of the holiday season.
The Yellowknife Guild of Arts and Crafts decided its series of Sunday sales could go ahead, but only with an online sign-up system limiting attendance to 60 people each day.
As of Thursday, six of the guild’s seven sale days were already at full capacity. The final day – Sunday, December 20 – had 40 spots remaining.
Each resident who signs up is given a 30-minute window to check out the latest work from Yellowknife’s potters, artisans, and craftmakers.
“It’s been all really positive,” guild vice-president Wendy Stephenson told Cabin Radio.
She believes the level of interest shows how much people appreciate the opportunity to shop in person.
“Online shopping is good, but if there’s an opportunity for them to actually look at something and size it up, then I think that makes a difference,” she said.
That’s not an option for all markets. Others are hoping the crowds will still come out online.
Dene Nahjo – a non-profit collective supporting Indigenous artists and communities – has turned to the internet for its annual Winter Art Market.
In a news release on Tuesday, the organization announced an online version of the market offering collections of jewellery, clothing, crafts, and other artworks by Indigenous artists from all three territories.
“Buying from Indigenous artists supports their ability to learn and master their craft,” the news release stated. “It supports the growth and nourishment of Indigenous art, which has an impact on our cultures and lives as a whole.
“When you buy Indigenous-created stories, jewellery, artwork, and clothing, you are giving space to Indigenous creatives to thrive in their ingenuity.”
There are 18 artists participating in Dene Nahjo’s market this year, which will open at noon on November 21 and run until noon on November 23.