Self portraits at Aloha Tacos at the 2016 Yukon Riverside Arts festival

This summer hasn’t come without its slew of cancellations and postponements of various festivals and events around the Yukon, but as cases decrease, things are looking up for Dawson City’s Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, scheduled to take place this August. From Aug. 13 to 15, the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture (KIAC) is presenting the 21st annual edition of the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, and while it will look different than in previous years, the team behind the festival is very excited to be able to put on an in-person festival and support artists who have struggled throughout the pandemic.

“As we start emerging from a very difficult time for many in the arts sector, we are excited to be able to support and showcase talented Yukoners,” said Lana Welchman, executive director of KIAC in a press release for the festival. “We’re very excited to once again welcome locals and visitors to the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, in a manner that ensures the safety of our communities.”

To cooperate with local public health guidelines and accommodate physical distancing among festival-goers, the festival has been adapted for this year into a series of exhibits and events in several venues across Dawson City. The decentralized approach will encourage audiences to enjoy the various forms of artwork being displayed and presented while leisurely walking through town, rather than gathering in large groups. The mediums of art presented in the festival will include film screenings, performances and visual installations.

For over two decades, KIAC has invited creators of all kinds of art to take part in the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, always ending up with a wide array of art styles and mediums included in the events and exhibitions. This year, a call was put out to artists, creatives and collectives to submit their work to be juried by early July. Those who had their work selected for inclusion in the festival also receive online promotion from KIAC and spots in an online exhibition of all artwork from the festival.

This year’s edition aims to take lessons learned from last year’s trial run of a curated virtual experience and expand on it, bringing back smaller-scale in-person events and exhibitions, but also relying on online content for those who are not able to attend physically.

KIAC was formed in 1999 after a group of local artists who were passionate about arts education in the north started the Dawson City Arts Society (DCAS) and set about working towards opening an arts centre to facilitate the creation and teaching of all kinds of arts. Since the turn of the century, KIAC has been serving the Yukon’s artistic community, presenting festivals, events, workshops and residencies, as well as launching the Youth Art Enrichment program, an annual art intensive for high school students interested in pursuing the arts.

To learn more about the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival and check out their online content, visit yraf.ca. To keep up with KIAC’s programming, visit the organization’s website at kiac.ca.

Michael MacLean & Elizabeth Xu installation at the ODD Ball dance party at the 2016 Yukon Riverside Arts festival
Photos: James Healey (from file)