While the Arctic Council convenes in Fairbanks, the after-party is happening in Anchorage.
As delegates, dignitaries and stakeholders wind down high level council meetings, the Anchorage Museum is hosting North by North, a first-time festival focused on issues specific to the Circumpolar North.
The four days of events are meant to keep the focus on Alaska during international conversations about the future of the Arctic, according to Museum Director Julie Decker.
“If there’s a lot of people from outside looking in, it’s really important to have the inside represented by the people who live here, and to empower the voice of Alaskans at a time when there’s a lot of curiosity and interest in our place,” Decker said in a phone interview.
North by North will feature academic and policy-focused presentations on everything from U.S.-Russia relations to the status of global ivory bans on indigenous carvers. But there is also a push to reach a broader audience. The festival includes outdoor film-screenings, food trucks dishing out northern cuisine and roof-top dance-parties DJ’ed by global musicians.
Those same performers are also part of a formal panel discussion the very next day on the topic of “Arctic music.”
The festival is part of the museum’s deliberate effort to re-orient what comes to mind when people think of the high north.
“We want to celebrate the place we live in and the people who live here, and really we want to help change the narrative for our place,” Decker said. “Move it from the idea that we’re an uninhabited place of natural resources, and say, ‘this is a contemporary place that expects to grow, that is optimistic about it’s own future.'”
“We’re trying to put the emphasis on the human qualities of the Arctic,” Decker added.
The North by North festival kicks off with a live streaming of the Ministerial meeting in Fairbanks on Thursday morning. It wraps up Sunday with a craft-fair and Mother’s Day brunch.
A full schedule of the North By North festival is available here.