The Yukon School of Visual Arts (Yukon SOVA) is entering its fifth year with a few changes to get used to.
First, and most obviously, it is now attached to its sister institution, the new campus for Yukon College (or Tr'odek Hatr'unohtan Zho), as noted here two issues ago.
Then there are new staff members, with Sam Cheuk coming on board to take the English instructor's post and Nicole Rayburn filling in for a semester on the 4D (time-based media) and Visual Culture Studies courses.
Local artist and Macintosh computer maven John Steins has joined the staff as studio technician and Kit Hepburn is the new library technician.
What hasn't changed is the distinct lack of places for both students and staff to live.
Most housing locations for the influx of summer workers are not insulated for winter, so the number of accommodation options in Dawson shrinks dramatically each fall.
Supporters of Yukon SOVA had hoped that the decommissioned social housing unit known as the Korbo Apartments might be repurposed as student housing, but the Yukon Housing Corporation has determined that it is unsafe and too contaminated with spilled furnace oil to be anything but demolished, so that didn't happen.
Juliet's Manor, a former bed and breakfast that housed a number of Yukon SOVA students during the last several years, is nearly full with other tenants, so the 17 students have had to be creative in finding places to live.
Yukon SOVA administrator Eryn Foster reported that after one week of classes three students were living in a trailer at the Bonanza Gold campground and several were staying in West Dawson at the Yukon River Hostel.
These arrangements can only be short term until the seasons end at those establishments, not long after this column sees print.
Other students are finding berths in private homes, as people have answered the call for room and board situations put out by the college last month.
One bright spot on the housing horizon is the offer by Greg and Shelley Hakonson to turn the house owned by Greg's father, the late Bill Hakonson, into a dormitory arrangement for up to six female students.
Greg says it's not a permanent solution, but for this year, at least, there will be two dormitory style bedrooms available, with shared living, bathroom and kitchen space.
The $450 monthly rental includes telephone, internet wifi, and television.
This residence will be supervised by Shelley's sister, Lindsay Desmarteau, herself an artist, who has decided to relocate to Dawson.
"It won't be just a place for them to eat and sleep," Greg says. He is converting one room of the house into a workroom so that students can continue their projects "at home". Student worktables will be set up there.
"There was a need," Greg said of their decision. "I don't want to be a landlord, but I don't want the house to sit empty. And it takes the pressure off SOVA."
Hakonson remains disgruntled over the Korbo decision. The man who has made his mark fixing unfixable buildings (the Oddfellows Hall and the Yukon SOVA building itself) still thinks the Korbo could have been saved.
Should all the spaces at the Hakonson house not be needed by Yukon SOVA students, the Hakonsons say that any compatible female could find a winter home there.
After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.