MARKET STUDY: NATIVE ART AS AN ECONOMIC FORCE

Establishing a Creative Economy: Art as an Economic Engine in Native Communities reveals facts, insights and possibilities that have been overlooked and untapped for far too long. Based on market research conducted in Washington, Oregon, Montana and South Dakota, this report makes the case of Native arts as a strong and available economic force in Indian Country. For example:

  • Art is deeply rooted in Native communities.
    • An estimated 30 percent of all Native peoples are practicing or potential artists and most live below the poverty line.
    • 51 percent of Native households on Pine Ridge Reservation depend on home-based enterprises for cash income.
    • 79 percent of those home-based enterprises on Pine Ridge Reservation consist of some form of traditional arts.
  • Native artists learn more effectively through informal networks (peer- and family-based training) than through formal networks (institutional training). In an Arts Lab, artists can obtain access to training, mentoring, materials used in the creation of arts, and physical and electronic marketplaces.
  • Access to resources is a significant hurdle for Native artists to overcome. Given the remote and vast landscapes in which most Native artists live and work, access to supplies, capital, markets, Internet, studio space and other resources is limited to nonexistent. Support targeted at this hurdle will have an enormous positive economic impact.

This report also shows how artists--and their communities--benefit when “the right kind of support” is made available.

  • Direct support for Native artists effectively increases their economic success.
    • 61 percent of emerging artists report household incomes of less than $10,000.
    • 7.5 percent of First Peoples Fund artists report household incomes of less than $10,000.

“We, and our partners at Artspace, have seen, firsthand, the positive impact of Native arts in Indian Country,” said Lori Pourier, President of First Peoples Fund. “This report supports the argument that Native art can be used as a robust and sustainable economic driver if artists have access to culturally appropriate financial and business training and affordable capital and markets, and can become part of a professional network.”

In 2011, FPF and Artspace partnered with the Northwest Area Foundation, Colorado State University and Leveraging Investments in Creativity on the American Indian Creative Economy Market Study Project. This survey examined household economics, infrastructure needs and social networks of Native artists to help:

  • Define the role of Native artists within reservation economies.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of support programs currently available for Native artists.
  • Identify challenges faced by Native artists and opportunities to better support them.


Download the full report
To read the full report, download a PDF here

Learn more
To learn more and find out how you can help artist communities in rural and urban areas, download the pdf of Establishing a Creative Economy: Art as an Economic Engine in Native Communities. You can also contact FPF’s Lori Pourier for more information.



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