Facilitating the success of artists from throughout Northwestern Alaska.
In the year 2000, the Northwest Arctic Borough launched the Arts Purchasing & Marketing Program to purchase and market Inupiaq crafts made in the Northwest Arctic Region. The purpose was to promote economic development by encouraging local art production and creating an outlet for residents of the region to market their crafts.
Startup grants for the project comprised $25,000 from Maniilaq, $75,000 from NWAB, and $25,000 from NANA, a total of $125,000. A couple weeks before the economic development summit the same year, The Northwest Arctic Borough invited local artists including myself, Edward L Ward III, were invited to attend and economic development meeting with the Borough assembly and Economic development director Lee Stoops. It was proposed to the borough assembly that we seek funding establish an art center/ studio that would be incorporated as a non profit and also have some of the attributes of a cooperative. The intended mission was to provide infrastructure for the arts purchasing program, provide local artists with a safe and efficient place to work, and to provide an educational and cultural center for Northwest Alaska.
The assembly approved the resolution and the plan was set in motion. In 2002 NANA Regional Corporation provided a temporary space where we housed a pre-Sulianich workshop in the old Ponderosa building which we used for a little over a year. In 2005 with help from the Chuckchi campus of the University of Alaska, NWAB received $350,000 in funding from the Rasmuson Foundation to develop develop a new facility. The selected building was provided by NANA Regional Corporation and is located at the site of the old Tupiq hardware store. NANA leased the building to NWAB for one dollar for a ten-year term, with the option to extend for two more ten-year terms. As a part of the agreement, NWAB renovated the existing building and will provide full coverage insurance for the duration of the lease.
Renovation was complete in 2007 and Sulianich Art Center opened it’s doors. Sulianich provides an economic, cultural, and educational service to residents of Northwest Alaska and beyond. Most of our purchases and sales consist of artwork made by residents of Northwest Alaska, but also from our traditional trading partners from time immemorial, Point Hope, Kivalina, And Shishmaref. We are currently undergoing a plan to upgrade our infrastructure with new machinery, more efficient lighting, expanded storage space, and better dust collection capability. We are also increasing our visibility and art sales potential by expanding into multi media advertising.
Our online storefront is currently under construction and will be open soon.