New England Foundation for the Arts

Grantee:  New England Foundation for the Arts
Location:  Boston
Award:  Strengthening the Arts and Cultures Infrastructure
Discipline:  Regional Collaboration Pilot Program
Web Site:  New England Foundation for the Arts

The Native Arts program at New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) supports Native artists in New England and nationally through grantmaking and network development. The program builds regional and national support structures to help Native artists reach broader audiences, connect with new markets for their work, and gain access to financial resources.

NEFA’s Native Arts program was developed in partnership with the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, with lead funding and vision from the Ford Foundation’s Indigenous Knowledge and Expressive Culture program. With a strong Native staff, Native Arts’ grants and programs support artistic traditions within Native communities, as well as encourage exchange among Native elders, professional artists, emerging artists, and community resources to promote both the preservation of traditional art forms and contemporary expressions in and across artistic disciplines. Beyond supporting individual projects, the program provides a springboard for transformative change in Native artists and Native communities and empowers Native artists to become true drivers of community change. As Native Arts evolves over time, NEFA begins to see more ripple effects, with impact going beyond individual grant recipients, fostering the interconnectedness of the community of Native artists both regionally and nationally.

Funding for NEFA in this initiative supported their grantmaking efforts. Notable benefits for Native Arts constituents include building a network of Native artists from throughout New England, increasing visibility for Native artists, and making 71 regional and 20 national grants to date. The National Native Artist Exchange has also brought significant benefits New England Native artists, offering national exposure and helping them to make connections outside of their own communities. Fourteen of the exchanges have involved New England artists, including eight in FY11 alone. In response to a survey, one artist commented, “NEFA recognized the importance of distinct artistic mediums in my community and the fact that without education for our younger folks these mediums may be lost. This has allowed me to return cultural aspects of my community to the next generation. This is an important step in our journey as artists and affects our work not only with new and invigorating ideas but with the satisfaction of knowing that these mediums, the work of our elders will continue.”