In the spring of 1998, a group of local artists decided that art education based in Dawson City was an idea whose time had come. 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:
- Canada’s Governor General attended the inaugural show at KIAC’s ODD Gallery in March 2000.
- We launched our first annual Dawson City International Short Film Festival in April 2000.
- The Yukon Riverside Arts Festival was initiated in August 2001 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.
- The Youth Art Enrichment program, an annual art intensive for Yukon high school students, was also held in 2001 for the first time.
- DCAS also 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 opened its doors in September 2007.