CAREFULLY REVIEW the information on this page and return to it as needed while completing your submission. We wish you the best and thank you for your time and energy to submit.

We encourage artists who have experience developing projects that are focused on engaging communities and the public to address community issues; build upon community cultural assets; and partner with organizations to develop and present the work to apply.


  • FINANCIAL RESOURCES: two-year awards totaling $100,000 with $50,000 of the award earmarked for the lead artist or arts collective and the remaining monies for project partners.
  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: artists will participate in trainings designed for established career artists who are navigating national and international landscapes, cross-sector work, community participation and movement building. Beyond typical emerging artist professional development formats that focus on the elements of small business development, training will focus on building skill sets around project development, organizing, community engagement, intersectional work and movement building.
  • MENTORSHIP: we encourage opportunities for early career artists to participate in the projects, working under the mentorship of the lead artists and/or organizations.
  • PARTNERSHIPS: artists can sit in residency, collaborating with organizations, institutions and/or tribal agencies to build projects with established and prospective constituencies.
  • CONVENING: current recipient artists will gather to share best practices and develop relationships; and in subsequent years, convene with artists from the each of the award cycles.
  • EVALUATION: NACF will provide support to develop project deliverables, outcomes and internal/external NACF program reports. Project leadership will be expected to participate in regular check-ins, provide visual documentation, a mid-project report and a final project report detailing the project’s development and outcomes.
  • EXHIBITING AND PRESENTING: NACF will provide support to bring the work to the public in collaboration with partners and/or at Center for Native Arts and Cultures (CNAC).
  • ADVOCACY: NACF will provide support to present artists’ work and provide a platform for conversation around the impacts of their projects and Native voices to effect change around vital issues.


    • Open to independent Native artists or Native artist collectives working in the disciplines of dance/choreography, fiction/poetry writing, film/video, multi-disciplinary arts, music, performance art, theater and screenplay writing, traditional arts or 2D + 3D visual arts.
    • Artist applicant must demonstrate US-based residency.
    • Artist applicant must be an enrolled member or citizen of a federally-recognized or state-recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native corporation, or of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Applicants will be asked to provide documentation of their Native citizenship or ancestry.
    • Artist applicant must be at least 18 years of age and must not be enrolled in a university or higher-education institution during the two-year award period.
    • Open to US-based non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses, or tribal agencies working in collaboration with Native artists or collectives and which are not required to be arts related (e.g., non-profit social service organizations, for-profit galleries, or universities).
    • Project may have a fiscal sponsor, but are not considered a “partner organization” if they are acting solely as a fiscal sponsor.
  • Artist/collective must select an eligible organization to partner with on their project, or the organization must select an eligible artist to partner with on their project.
  • All previous awardees who have received support from NACF prior to 2020 are eligible and encouraged to apply. Recipients of the 2020 Native Arts Emergency Support Project (pandemic relief) are also eligible to apply.
    • Projects must address social, environmental or economic justice issues through a Native lens.
    • Projects must involve the development of new work.
    • Projects must include specific strategies that activate the community and include public presentation of the work.
    • Projects must be completed and presented within two years of the award, or prior to September 30, 2023.

Learn more about the program here.


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Watch the video below for an overview of the SHIFT program and a look inside the online Letter of Interest Form.


January 19, 2021
Public announcement
March 16, 2021
DEADLINE for Letter of Interest
Late April 2021
Notification to applicants
June 2, 2021
DEADLINE for full application
September 2021
Notification to applicants
Fall 2021
Public announcement of award recipients
October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2023 – Award period


  • The artist/collective and their partner organization will submit one Letter of Interest (LOI) via an online form in Submittable. Please see below for details regarding what it is included in the LOI form.
  • LOIs will be reviewed by NACF staff and applicants selected as finalists will be invited to submit full proposals.
  • Finalists will participate in consultation with NACF around project management, budget development and project deliverables.
  • The finalists will submit a full proposal outlining the project activities in greater detail, the strategic community benefits, events and presentation, at least one formal organizational partnership, in depth descriptions of the artists and primary organizational partners; project leadership; and a detailed project budget.
  • Full proposals will be reviewed by a panel of arts peers and professionals and up to ten (10) projects will be selected to receive support.
  • Projects will commence in late 2021 and be presented/premiered by late 2023.


Please allow for plenty of time to complete your submission. The deadline to submit the online LOI form is Tuesday March 16, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time

The SHIFT Letter of Interest Form includes six sections:

  1. Eligibility: The lead artist and partner organization will answer a list of questions to determine their eligibility for the SHIFT program before proceeding to the full LOI form.
  2. Lead Artist + Partner Organization’s Contact Information: If eligible, the lead artist will be asked to provide their best contact information.
  3. Project Narrative: Applicants will be asked to provide the title, a brief overview and a detailed description of their proposed project. Applicants will describe the project’s intent and scope, the issues addressed, its intended communities, the artists and collaborators, and an anticipated timeline. Maximum word count is 1500 words (roughly three pages).
  4. Project Budget: Applicants will complete a simple budget form showing how they will allocate the $100,000 award funds towards the proposed project. Note that a minimum of $50,000 of the award funds must be allocated directly to the lead artist or arts collective and the remaining funds for the project partners. If the project budget is more than $100,000, artists and/or organizations must demonstrate other support for the project (for example: other grants, in-kind contributions, earned income etc.).
  5. Work Samples and Supporting Materials: Applicants will upload the following documents: (1) 7 to 10 artist or arts collective work samples, (2) lead artist or collective’s website (if available), (3) lead artist’s resume or CV, (4) documentation of lead artist’s Native citizenship or ancestry, (5) the partner organization’s tax ID or Employer Identification Number, and (6) the partner organization’s most current audit or financial statements.
  6. Letters of Support: The lead artist/collective and the partner organization will each provide a letter describing their commitment to collaborate on the project.


Project Explorations
A primary objective of the initiative is to impactfully respond to social, environmental and economic justice issues through a Native lens, drawing increased attention to Native communities, perspectives and challenges, shifting a national narrative of invisibility, misunderstanding and misappropriation, supporting or focusing on efforts that are built upon community cultural assets, resilience and strengths. Applicants will describe the issue(s) to be addressed, its significance to the community or communities, and the impact the project will have in addressing the issue(s). Applicants will describe the work’s style, format, themes and process of creation.

Community Benefit
A primary objective of the initiative is to engage and impact local communities. Community benefit is demonstrated by the quality, depth and scope of the opportunities to impact diverse communities. Applicants will describe the intended audiences for the project, how relationships will be developed with the community and how the community will be engaged by the project, and the significance of the work to the issue and beyond. Applicants will also describe the factors that will contribute to accessibility; and successful partnerships with organizations, institutions, agencies and community-based collectives. Public presentation of the work is required and depending on the pandemic environment, virtual presentation will be considered.

Collaboration and Leadership
We encourage collaboration for these projects and believe competent leadership and planning are essential for success. Collaboration and Leadership are demonstrated by clearly defined descriptions of how the organization(s) and the artist(s) will collaborate in the development, production, presenting/distribution of the project. Applicants will be asked to describe the roles and responsibilities of the artistic and organizational leadership; the contributions of any collaborators; and provide a timeline for the project.

Artistic Experience
Primary consideration will be given to artists and organizations who have experience in community engagement, developing intersectional partnerships, and social change focused work. Artistic experience is demonstrated through technical capacities, originality, innovation, inspiration and the distinctive niche of the artist(s) and organizations, as indicated by work samples; training, apprenticeships, education; and previous success.

Financial Capacity
Financial capacity is demonstrated by the viability of the project budget. Partner organizations may be asked to provide financial statements, balance sheet and an income statement. If the project budget is more than the maximum award amount, artists and/or organizations must demonstrate other support for the project (for example: other grants, in-kind contributions, earned income etc.).


Can a Native artist from outside the US apply?

  • Artists must be an enrolled member or citizen of a federally-recognized or state-recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native corporation, or of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Applicants will be asked to provide documentation of their Native citizenship or ancestry.
  • Artists must also demonstrate US residency.
  • Artists from US territories are not eligible to apply.

Can an organization apply from outside the US?
No, only US organizations are eligible to apply.

What is a “lead artist” applicant?
The “lead artist” is an individual artist who is responsible for submitting the Letter of Interest (LOI) and managing the project in collaboration with a partner organization. If an arts collective would like to apply, then they must select a lead artist from their group to submit the LOI and act as the primary contact, as well as to provide materials, such as a resume and Native heritage documentation, in the LOI form.

How much financial support should the applicant request from NACF?
Projects can have budgets of more than $100,000, but financial support for the project will be no more than $100,000. Applicants are encouraged to apply for the whole amount.

How much of the award funds will be provided to the lead artist?
The lead artist compensation must be a minimum of $50,000 of the total $100,000 award.

If an artist collective is applying, who will receive the award?
The $50,000 artist allocation amount will remain the same, but can be distributed as the collective decides.

Are projects without a confirmed partner organization eligible to apply?
No, and projects must include letters of support from the artists and the lead organizational partner.

Can an applicant apply more than once per application cycle?
No, a lead applicant may only submit one letter of interest.

Are student projects eligible?
No, the lead artist applicant may not be a student at the time of application submission, or during the grant period. Additionally, projects featuring performers that are predominantly students are not eligible to apply.

If I am an artist and own my own business, can that business be the lead partner organization?
No. An essential aspect of SHIFT is that the artist and the lead organization collaborate together to develop and present the project. For example, a mural artist might collaborate with city agency, a filmmaker with an environmental protection organization, or a choreographer with a social service organization, etc. If the artist owns the lead partner organization/business, the artist would essentially be collaborating with themselves.

If I am an artist and an employee of an organization/business, can that business be the lead partner organization or I the lead artist?
No. Like in the case of a lead artist owning the lead partner organization, the artist would essentially be collaborating with themselves.

Can public presentation/exhibition take place outside of the US?
Yes, but only if there is at least one public presentation/exhibition in the US. Preference will be given to projects with public presentation/exhibition in the US.

Can applicants seek feedback from NACF staff about their Letter of Interest? Can applicants provide preliminary drafts for NACF staff to review?
Yes, applicants may seek feedback by emailing their documents to Reuben Roqueñi at, if received no less than one week prior to the deadline.

What if I accidentally submitted the LOI before it was completed?
If you submitted your form in error, please email Laura Cales at You may edit your submission prior to the deadline.

Will I receive feedback about the review?
Due to the large number of Letters of Interest we expect to receive, we will not be able to provide individual feedback.

For more information, please visit the SHIFT homepage.

For technical support with your online LOI form, email or click the “Technical Help” button on the Submittable webpage. You may also contact Laura Cales, Program Manager, at or 360-334-7285.

For inquiries about the SHIFT program eligibility or content, please contact Reuben Roqueñi, Director of Transformative Change Programs, at or 503-388-3720.