SHIFT: Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts –  2023 Program Eligibility, Process, Criteria & FAQ

The SHIFT grant is currently closed for applications. Please check back in early 2025 for information about the next open call. 


  • 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 producing the project.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 be at least 18 years of age.
    • 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 in the application.
    • Artist applicant must not be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at a university or higher-education institution during the two-year award period (November 1, 2023, through October 31, 2025).
    • 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.
  • Lead Artist cannot be a board member, paid consultant or employee, owner, or founder of their chosen partner organization.
  • Lead Artist cannot partner with an organization of which their immediate family member is a founder, owner, paid consultant, or employee.
  • All previous awardees who have received support from NACF prior to 2021 are eligible and encouraged to apply.
    • Projects must address social change issues through a Native lens.
    • Projects must involve the development of new work — we will not accept proposals for projects that are annual, ongoing, and/or already established.
    • 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 October 31, 2025.

Learn more about the program here.


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The SHIFT grant is currently closed for applications. Stay connected to learn about future opportunities from NACF.


  • The artist/collective and their partner organization will collaborate to submit one Round 1 Application via an online form in Submittable. Please see below for details regarding what is required in the application form.
  • Applications will be reviewed by a panel of arts peers and professionals, and applicants selected as finalists will be invited to submit a Round 2 or Final Application.
  • The finalists will submit a Round 2/Final Application 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 will provide a detailed project budget; 24-month timeline; and letters of support from the lead artist and lead partner describing their commitment to collaborate.
  • Final applications will be reviewed by the panel and up to ten projects will be selected to receive support.
  • Projects will commence in November 2023 and be presented/premiered by October 2025.


Please allow for plenty of time to complete your submission. The deadline to submit the Round 1 Application form is Tuesday, March 14, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.

The SHIFT Round 1 Application Form includes five 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 remainder of the application questions.
  2. Lead Artist & Partner Organization’s Contact Information: If eligible, applicants will be asked to provide their best contact information.
  3. Survey Questions (for Lead Artist to complete): The information collected in this section is for demographic purposes and has no bearing on individual applications. All survey answers are maintained in strict confidence. The demographic information compiled from the survey will help inform NACF to advocate more effectively for Native artists.
  4. Project Narrative: Applicants will be asked to provide the title, brief overview, and detailed description of their proposed project. Applicants will describe the project’s intent and scope, the issues addressed, project activities, the role of the lead artist and partner, its intended communities, and plans for public presentation of the project.
  5. Work Samples and Supporting Materials: Applicants will upload the following documents: (1) lead artist’s or arts collective’s work samples; (2) lead artist or collective’s website(s) (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.


Project Explorations
A primary objective of the initiative is to impactfully respond to social change 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.

Collaboration and Partnership
We encourage collaboration for these projects and believe competent leadership and planning are essential for success. Collaboration is 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, and the contributions of any collaborators.

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 will be asked to provide financial statements in the Round 1 Application, and finalists will be asked to submit a detailed project budget in the Round 2 Application Form. If the project budget is more than the maximum award amount, applicants 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 US-based 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 and Indigenous communities outside the US are not eligible to apply.

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

What is a “lead artist” applicant?
The “lead artist” is an individual artist who is responsible for submitting the application 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 application and act as the primary contact, as well as to provide materials, such as a resume and Native heritage documentation, in the application.

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?

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

Are student projects eligible?
No, the lead artist applicant may not be a student during the award period (November 1, 2023, through October 31, 2025). 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 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 U.S.?
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 application? Can applicants provide preliminary drafts for NACF staff to review?
Yes, applicants may seek feedback by emailing their documents to our Program Director, if received no less than one week prior to the deadline or before March 7, 2023. 

What if I accidentally submitted my application before it was completed?
If you submitted your form in error, please email Amber Ball, Executive Office Coordinator and Special Projects Liaison, at You may request to edit your submission up to 24 hours prior to the deadline or no later than March 13, 2023, at 5:00pm Pacific Time.

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

For more information, please visit the SHIFT homepage.

For inquiries about the SHIFT program eligibility or content, please contact Laura (Cales) Matalka, Associate Director of Programs, at

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