The work of NACF continues to be incredibly significant to creating true equity for Native artists. The organization values not just the work of Native Artists, but their sense of community and approaches to gathering and art making. The transformative, lasting impact of NACF’s work is difficult to measure, as the catalysts are true catalysts for many things to come.
― Christopher K. Morgan (Native Hawaiian), National Artist Fellow
The SHIFT- Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts is a two-year award program designed to increase attention to Native communities and shift a narrative of invisibility, misunderstanding and misappropriation. The program includes multi-year services for artists working on projects responding to social, environmental or economic justice issues.
The LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists program provides invaluable support to early career Native artists with one-year awards to develop and realize new projects. LIFT encourages artists to uplift communities, advance positive social change, point courageously toward environmental sustainability, and foster communal meaning making.
MENTOR ARTIST FELLOWSHIP
As Native elders pass, Indigenous people are experiencing a dilution of cultural wisdom. NACF Mentor Artist Fellowhips perpetuate traditional practices, languages, and cultural expressions in Native communities for new generations to invest and strengthen their artistic voice in the evolution of contemporary visual arts.
NATIVE NATION PARTNERSHIPS
Both urban and rural Native artists and arts organizations play a leading role in sparking social change. To address a lack of economic resources and to reach a larger and more diverse audience across the nation, NACF’s Native Nation Partnerships (NNP) initiative provided funding to Native Nation arts organizations from 2018-2020 to inspire and energize Native communities.
In 2007, a study conducted by the Ford Foundation demonstrated a deep need for a national resource to support Native arts and cultures in the US. After a preliminary feasibility study, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) was launched in 2009 to recognize Native creativity, heal
the damage of history, and support cultural continuity for generations of Native artists and culture bearers.
Since its first year of programming in 2011, NACF made significant strides in fulfilling its mission to nurture Native artist success by offering support to individual artists, arts organizations, and communities. In March 2019, NACF conducted an internal review looking carefully at a subset of 120 final awardee reports. We also surveyed 252 past artist and organization awardees and learned that the overwhelming majority of awardees were responding to the following: social, political, environmental, spiritual, economic, and food justice issues through a Native lens, drawing increased attention to Native communities, perspectives, and challenges, shifting a national narrative of invisibility, misunderstanding, and misappropriation.
Based on our findings and after conversations with stakeholders, NACF defined one overall focus area: Catalyze Native peoples, artists and cultures bearers to influence positive social, cultural, and environmental change. We devised four priorities to guide our future work with a primary focus of promoting positive social change, education in philanthropy and the public, and to convene and converge Native artists. You can learn more about our goals and priorities in the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, which outlines a bold vision for NACF as we pivot programming with SHIFT and LIFT and extends our reach with a new home for the Center for Native Arts and Cultures (CNAC) in Portland, Oregon.