2023 was a year of reflection, recalibration, growth and positive change here at First Peoples Fund. We have continued to strengthen our leadership across the organization. We are growing our Programs team – as we collectively work to support culture bearers and artists by deepening and expanding the Indigenous Arts Ecology.
Some particular highlights from this past year include the long-awaited grand opening of our Oglala Lakota Artspace and the launch of our first-ever Artist in Residence and Wichapi Olowan music programs. After being on hiatus throughout the pandemic, we reinstated our in-person fellows convening and the Native Arts Professional Development (NAPD) program. We also introduced our new Collective Spirit™ Conversation Series.
- Indigenous Arts Ecology: Cultivating Entrepreneurship in Indigenous Communities Convening - During this first fellows convening since 2019, the workshops focused on tax preparedness, Native Community Development Financial Institutions and the effects of climate change on Indigenous artists. Participants gathered in Santa Fe, NM to engage in professional development, peer learning, and community building with leaders from Native Women Lead, New Mexico Community Capital and other partner organizations.
- Oglala Lakota Artspace Grand Opening - We welcomed more than 250 Pine Ridge community members, funders and friends during our May 19th and 20th events that ranged from art making activities to live performances, talks and honorings. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us!
- OLA Artist in Residence (AiR) Program - The AiR program is designed to support Oglala Lakota artists working in the continuum of Lakota art, historically, traditionally and contemporarily, to develop their practice, explore connections and build collaborations with local artists and community. This first year five artists participated in the 3-6 weeks residencies that included living accommodations, food and materials stipends, a workspace, transportation to and from the OLA, and uninterrupted time to concentrate on creative practice.
- Wichapi Olowan (Star Songs) Music Program - FPF’s new music program, in partnership with Playing for Change, enables intergenerational emerging artists to learn how to produce and record music from local musicians. Monthly jam sessions for local musicians, singers, and rappers provided opportunities for these artists to build confidence by performing in front of an audience.
- Native Arts Professional Development Program - We hosted NAPDs in Minnesota, California, Washington, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota this year. The entrepreneurship curriculum takes emerging artists on the journey of business development through a Native arts and culture lens. Topics include budgeting, pricing, marketing, taxes, etc.
- Collective Spirit Conversations - This summer we introduced a new series of virtual discussions highlighting the work of Native American and Native Hawaiian artists and addressing timely community issues. Topics included:
- Harmonizing Identities: Indigenous Queer Artists on Art
- Indigenous Futurism: Bridging Ancestral Roots and Contemporary Art
- Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights
These programs and initiatives along with all of our other work, our dedicated staff and board, trainers, funders and supporters like you, continue to fill our hearts with gratitude and hope. We hope they can do the same for you.