Heather Igloliorte has been what you might call super busy for a long time.
So far this year, she broke ground on a new Inuit Art Centre in Winnipeg that she is co-curating, signed on as a juror for the Sobey Art Award, was presented with the 2018 Art Journal Award by the College Art Association, and broke 50,000 points on her Aeroplan card flying around the world, acting as curatorial consultant and scholar, connecting with other Indigenous artists and curators.
But something big happened this month that she hopes will change her work forever.
The newly tenured Associate Professor of Art History and Concordia Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement, was awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Talent grant program grant worth $2,499,774.
With this grant, she will develop The Pilimmaksarniq/Pijariuqsarniq Project: Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership. Her goal is to radically increase Inuit participation in arts research and arts-based professional practice.
Developing Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership
The SSHRC grant addresses a problem she’s battled throughout her career: the dearth of Inuit leadership in arts research and the low number of Inuit professionals currently employed across the arts.
“I travel a lot and I really love my work, but I want to see more Inuit colleagues who are also doing this work,” she says. “We need to recruit more Inuit students into these programs!”
For decades, Inuit artists have made up the highest per capita population of artists across Canada. Some communities report as much as 25 percent of Inuit residents employed at least part-time in the arts.
“But I don’t think we are doing enough to inform them of the kinds of careers that they could have in the arts in terms of professional positions. Not just as curators or museum staff, but also in the film industry, for example, where we don’t have a cache of sound designers or other post production specialists, or in theatre, or arts administration.”
“Think about how beneficial it would be to have people in all these other professions. It would really advance the arts in an exciting way.”