The Yellowknife Artists Co-operative has applied to run the city’s Wildcat Café this summer, envisaging a “centre for the arts” where artists can congregate and work in the same space.
The café, which is municipally owned, is currently unoccupied. Each year, operators are invited to bid for a licence to run the café. Earlier this year, the city told Cabin Radio nobody had at the time come forward to apply.
Roland Laufer, the Yellowknife Artists Co-operative’s treasurer, said the group wanted to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists together and “share northern artistry.”
Matthew Grogono, the group’s president, said its bid focused not on food but on a community space for art, culture, and heritage.
Sofia Grogono, a member of the group, said: “We’ve looked at dance, at painting, we’ve discussed with different Indigenous craft makers, storytelling has come up.
“The idea is that part of it will be used as a collaborative studio space so artists can work side by side and there can be a mingling of disciplines, as well as events that are open to the public so people can attend a workshop or listen to a storytelling session.”
Sofia said the group’s ultimate vision, a long-term arts centre, “needs to be a permanent part of Yellowknife’s culture and society.”
“There’s so many talented, skilled artists in the NWT,” she said, “but so many of us have to leave to get training down south, and we don’t come back, right? That’s the thing – we go down south and we might not come back or we come back half-time to make our art actually viable.
“This would be a chance for that training to happen locally and for the interdisciplinary approach to spread.”
After this article was first published, the City of Yellowknife said one bid to operate the Wildcat Café had been received following three calls for applications, two of which yielded no results. The third call closed on July 5.
The collective’s bid to run the café is now being evaluated.