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Yukon School of Visual Arts anticipates full cohort
DAWSON CITY, YT—The Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) received a record 32 applications for the upcoming school year from across Canada and as far afield as Japan and Taiwan.
Program director, Aubyn O’Grady has sent out 20 acceptance letters and is hopeful all 20 students sign up when registration opens on May 31.
O’Grady credits several reasons for SOVA’s growing success, including more actively sharing aspects of Dawson City life on their social media platforms and their ability to hold in-person studios and classes within COVID-19 safety measures.
In addition, a pilot project with Northern Vision Development and the Downtown Hotel is providing housing to students arriving at the end of the summer.
“This partnership has removed the uncertainty around a place to live for incoming students. They now have a place to land and get to know the town before securing long-term accommodation as summer workers depart,” said O’Grady.
O’Grady also points to the growing relationship between SOVA and northern communities. This year will see students entering the one-year foundation art program directly from Robert Service School in Dawson, as well as from Whitehorse and Yellowknife.
“There is greater interest from northern students because we are taking more time to build relationships with northern schools and our small cohort supports students transitioning into post-secondary.”
Having internationally known artists as faculty helps raise SOVA’s profile also. Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed joined SOVA in 2019 and 2020 respectively and both maintain a practice well-regarded in the Canadian art scene.
“Art remains an effective way to address local and world issues and provides tools for resilience and expression in trying times—there’s no better time to come learn how to do this,” added O’Grady.
The program has also seen renewed support from the local community. Last year, with travel restrictions in place across Canada, SOVA turned to a mix of Northern artists— Jackie Olsen, Veronica Verkley, Devon Berquist, Jeneen Free-Njootli and Elaine Alexie—to share their knowledge and experience in a series of talks with students and the public, both in–person and via Zoom.
The online exhibit of work by the SOVA class of 2021 is available online until the end of August at sova2021.ca/. Last year, over 1000 people visited the exhibit to experience graduates work in this new format.
Run by artists, the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) is a small visual arts school located in Dawson City, Yukon, in the Traditional Territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. SOVA’s Foundation Year Program runs from September – April. SOVA students receive academic credit from Yukon University, block transfer credits to top Canadian art programs, and have full access to an exceptional contemporary facility, equipped with their own student spaces, in an active, arts-oriented community. SOVA is collaboratively governed by Yukon University, the Dawson City Arts Society, and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Government.