SouthWest Alaska Arts Group

Bethel Council on the Arts and the Kuskokwim Art Guild merge

A new day in the Bethel Arts Community. Please welcome the newly created SouthWest Alaska Arts Group (SWAAG). It has taken over 15 years for the Bethel Council on the Arts and the Kuskokwim Art Guild to merge and become one, the SouthWest Alaska Arts Group. This merger brings together all of the arts activities hosted by the former groups under one cohesive entity. This will streamline infrastructure, events, budgets, and volunteers.

The transition board, led by Anne Kosacheff, included Chris Nevak, Reyne Athanas, Bev Chmielarczyk, Moses Tulim, Julie McWilliams, Pam Conrad, Laura Ellsworth and Paul Conti. The transition board created the new by-laws and business plan, and started the process for the legal name change to SWAAG.

On January 15, 2022 an open meeting was held in the Yupiit Piciryarait cultural center in Bethel, and via Zoom – a total of 23 people attended. Each person in attendance and living in the region, was able to nominate and vote for the new executive board. The new SouthWest Alaska Arts Group executive board is: Moses Tulim (President), Paul Conti (Vice President-Production), Julie McWilliams (Vice President Visual Arts), Mark Jones (Treasurer), Mike White (Secretary), Chris Nevak (Member at Large) and Nicole Kaganak (Member at Large). The Standing committee chairpersons are: Paul Conti (Production Committee), Julie McWilliams (Store Committee), Linda Curda (Camai Festival), Mark Jones (Education Committee), Chris Nevak (Steel Salmon Auction Committee), Moses Tulim (Finance Committee) and Nicole Kaganak (Recruitment and Community Involvement Committee).

SWAAG offers heartfelt thanks to all attendees and participants, and congratulates the newly elected board.

Over the past 50 years, Bethel Council on the Arts has existed through the generous gift of time by hundreds of volunteers, the support of the Bethel community and regional villages. The 20 years the Kuskokwim Art Guild has been in operation, supporting and promoting regional artists and crafts persons was due to the volunteers who believed in the arts. Both groups want to recognize all of the volunteers who made everything happen throughout the years at the many sponsored art events. The Kuskokwim Art Guild and Bethel Council on the Arts would also like to publicly thank John McDonald for his many years as the accountant for BCA. John was the glue that kept the council together for over 20 years. SWAAG presented John with a marvelous wood carving created by Moses Tulim.

The mission of SWAAG is “to promote, support and preserve all arts in the Yukon Kuskokwim region, and across Alaska.” We look forward to many years of new Arts experiences for Bethel, and the Yukon-Kuskokwim region. If you are interested in volunteering or want more information please contact Laura Ellsworth at (907) 953-8055 or email at [email protected]. Call the SWAAG gift shop at 907-543-4585 for more information (open Th-Fr 12-6, 10-2 Sat).

The next public board meeting will be April 9, 2022 at 11:00 in the Yupiit Piciryarait cultural center in Bethel. Zoom information will be available closer to the meeting date.

Supported by Alaska State Council on the Arts, Alaska Humanities Forum and arts supporters. Please join us in celebrating the Arts in Bethel.