The Klondike Institute of Art and Culture is a vibrant artistic and cultural centre at the edge of the Arctic that cultivates creativity through film, music, visual, literary, and performing arts. We host a variety of festivals, events, exhibitions, and arts education programs in Dawson City, Yukon on Tr’ondek Hwech’in Traditional and Contemporary Territory.
ODD Gallery Hours
In the spring of 1998, a group of local artists decided that art education based in Dawson City was on the horizon. They formed the Dawson City Arts Society (DCAS), a non-profit organization with the goal of enriching the quality of life and creating an art-based economy in the Yukon. The Society envisioned the opening of an art centre for the teaching, performance and exhibition of visual, performing, media and literary arts.
In the autumn of 1998, DCAS obtained the historic Odd Fellows Hall in Dawson City. With generous assistance from governments, other community associations, and the private sector, plus countless hours of enthusiastic volunteer participation, major renovations were undertaken and the neglected structure was successfully resurrected.
In December 1999, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) proudly commenced operations. The whole community celebrated our significant accomplishment by welcoming the new millennium in our turn-of-the-century styled ballroom at the New Year’s Eve “Odd Ball.”
Some of the milestones achieved since then:
- In March 2000, Canada’s Governor General attended the inaugural show at KIAC’s ODD Gallery.
- In April 2020, we launched our first annual Dawson City International Short Film Festival.
- In August 2001, the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival was initiated during the Discovery Day weekend. A highlight of the weekend was the grand opening of the KIAC Artist Residency, housed in the Parks Canada owned Macaulay House.
- Also in 2001, the Youth Art Enrichment program, an annual art intensive for Yukon high school students, was also held for the first time and continues to this day.
- Since the beginning, DCAS envisioned a post-secondary art school in Dawson City. Thanks to a partnership with Yukon College and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the Yukon School of Visual Arts officially opened its doors in September 2007.
- In 2019, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in elders council gifted the Odd Fellows Hall a new name in the Hän language: Dënäkär Zho, a house of mixed colours. Learn more here.
- In 2020, KIAC celebrated it’s twentieth anniversary.
KIAC has since become an active centre of cultural, social, and artistic energy. It is a community organization which enriches the quality of life and community health & wellness in the Yukon through the enhancement of arts, culture and the economy. It is a catalyst and facilitator in education, creation, presentation, and celebration of the arts. KIAC seeks involvement from the community, and from emerging and professional artists at the local, national and international level and presents an ambitious schedule of programming:
Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Festival
This festival presents an inclusive, innovative, and community-minded multi-day celebration of visual printmaking, literature, publishing, and heritage. Featured guests range from emerging to established printmakers, publishers and writers, all embracing a spirit of independent creativity while remaining open to collaborative processes.
Workshops and festival events take place in the rarely-accessed home of the Dawson Daily News, one of Dawson City’s early newspapers (printed from 1899 to 1954). Since the first year of this project, an 1890s Chandler & Price letterpress, formerly used at the Whitehorse Star, has been completely restored for use.
Dawson City International Short Film Festival
Among the most northern competitive film festivals in the world, the Dawson City International Short Film Festival (DCISFF) has been showing short films of all genres every Easter weekend since 2000. The festival also includes special events such as master classes with exciting guests, meet and greets, workshops, filmmaking challenges, and awards.
Yukon Riverside Arts Festival
The ODD Gallery’s year-round programming features solo and group exhibitions (selected and curated by committee) by regional, national and international visual artists, as well as the annual thematic project The Natural & The Manufactured. The gallery also presents a wide array of outreach programming including artist talks, openings, lectures, screenings, youth programs and other special events.
The seasonal Confluence Gallery, operated by KIAC and hosted at the Yukon School of Visual Arts, is a community exhibition series which offers a space for KIAC members working in any medium to exhibit their artwork throughout the summer months.
Performing Arts, Music, Theatre, and Film
KIAC presents a year-round professional performing arts series in the beautiful second floor Ballroom that actively engages our community and provides inspiring performance opportunities for international, national, and regional artists in many disciplines. Our diverse programming includes jazz, classical, folk & roots, experimental, dance, theatre, and more.
KIAC hosts numerous film screenings and film-related events such as the 48 Hour Film Challenge, analog and digital workshops, and more… Especially leading up to the annual Dawson City International Short Film Festival in April every year.
Workshops & Courses
KIAC offers and supports local community arts education through outreach programs, courses, and workshops that are developed and implemented to meet the broad range of community interests including but not limited to: filmmaking, sound recording, darkroom processes, pottery, painting, sewing, and more.
KIAC also offers seasonal professional development workshops for artists such as: grant writing, brand creation and social media, taxes for artists (etc) in addition to several opportunities for local artists to have work professionally photo-documented.
Artist in Residence Program
Founded in 2001, in a partnership with Parks Canada, the KIAC Artist in Residence Program has welcomed over 300 talented artists, musicians, and filmmakers to Dawson City from all regions of Canada and around the world. Artists are provided with unrestricted time and space to research, develop and produce ongoing or new body of works, and host outreach activities such as talks, workshops and exhibitions, intended to promote interaction and professional development within the community.
The 2021 Board of Directors is comprised of Peter Menzies (President), David Curtis (vice President), Ben Rudis (Treasurer), Kerry Barber (Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Representative), Youkali Abigor, Luene Maxwell, Meg Walker, Bo Yeung, Erica Barta, and Justin Apperley.
Read our Annual Reports from 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2019.
KIAC’s Programming Goals
1. KIAC will develop and provide high quality arts education programming in these areas:
a. courses for community members and visitors to Dawson.
b. outreach educational projects throughout the Yukon.
c. applied arts training.
d. youth programs for a range of ages.
2. KIAC will support artists and art creation in the following manner:
a. provide facilities and equipment.
b. sustain and develop the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival.
c. support the development of the Confluence Members’ Gallery.
d. play a role in territorial and national arts advocacy.
3. KIAC will support and/or partner with other local and regional organizations in order to present performing arts year-round, including theatre, dance, comedy, and music.
4. KIAC will support creation and presentation of film, video and media arts in the following manner:
a. develop the annual Dawson City International Short Film Festival (DCISFF) and its associated programming.
b. enable independent film and video production by offering appropriate programming and training and by making equipment available.
5. The ODD Gallery will exhibit and present international, national and regional artists, including curated and co-curated exhibitions, and will develop diverse outreach activities to engage public interest.
6. KIAC will attract international, national and regional artists to an artist residency and facilitate associated outreach programming.
7. KIAC will maintain a supportive relationship/partnership with the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA).
8. KIAC will share resources and foster partnerships with other local and regional governments and non-government organizations to further our vision.
9. KIAC will develop programs that support cultural awareness and build stronger connections between community groups.
10. KIAC will develop programs that promote immersive experiences and build public engagement such as the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, the Print and Publishing Festival and the Dawson City International Short Film Festival.
Testimonials and Feedback
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About Dawson City
Set against a dramatic backdrop of northern wilderness with a rich First Nation tradition, Dawson City is built on a foundation of cultural diversity and grand ideas. The Yukon Territory has perhaps the highest per-capita population of artists, at every level in every discipline, in the country. Many came to Dawson for two weeks – twenty years ago.
The Klondike Institute of Art and Culture is of one of the many volunteer driven not-for-profit initiatives that are vital to the social, cultural and economic health of Dawson City. The Klondike Visitors Association plans activities and events that attract thousands of visitors to Dawson City each year. The Dawson City Music Festival is legendary for its ability to present Canada’s finest musical talent to the community both at the July festival, and at concerts during the year. Other organizations such as the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, Dawson Museum Society, and CFYT Radio add to Dawson’s rich cultural milieu, which is somewhat unexpected in a small northern town that’s only a few hours drive from the Arctic Circle.
To find out more about what Dawson City has to offer, we recommend visiting the websites of our community partners Klondike Visitors Association, the City of Dawson, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.