Empowering Native Artists
October 12, 2023

Empowering Native Artists

First Peoples Fund's Native Artist Professional Development Program

First Peoples Fund is making significant strides in California through its Native Artist Professional Development (NAPD) program.

With a focus on fostering entrepreneurship and cultural leadership, NAPD offers transformative training programs and certification courses, allowing artists to thrive in their careers and communities.

In recent endeavors, First Peoples Fund successfully launched the NAPD program in California, marking the return to in-person training after a hiatus since pre-pandemic days. The California trainings engaged 27 registrants and saw active participation from 10 individuals.

“By year's end, we anticipate hosting  14 in-person and two or three virtual classes. And [the program’s] hitting the ground running after being on a bit of a hiatus for the past couple of years during the pandemic. People are eager to get back to training and working with First Peoples Fund,” Juan Lucero, NAPD’s program manager, said.

Participants expressed high regard for the trainers, emphasizing their professionalism, knowledge, and interactive teaching styles. Tiffany Adams was commended for her engagement and insightful sharing of personal experiences, keeping students engrossed and motivated. Carolyn Kualii was commended for her interactive approach and ability to encourage critical thinking, creating an enriching learning environment.

The success of these training sessions would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of esteemed partners, including the California Indian Culture & Sovereignty Center and the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center. Together, they have demonstrated a commitment to the mission of empowering Native artists.

“[Partnerships] allow us to connect with the community. It gives us a much broader audience. I guess you can say, to be able to reach out to them and bring them into our classes,” Lucero said.

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1. 2023 NAPD Workshop in Santa Rosa, CA participants with NAPD Trainer Ben Sherman 2. 2023 NAPD Workshop in Santa Rosa, CA participants and trainers with Tiffany Adams, Carolyn Kuali’i, Ben Sherman and FPF Program Weaver, Jaren Bonillo. 3. 2023 NAPD Workshop with NAPD Trainer Roxanne Best

Looking ahead, First Peoples Fund and its partners have their eyes set on expanding the NAPD program across various areas in California. With the aim of reaching more aspiring artists, two California Native Arts Ecology Building grants have been awarded to the Alliance for Felix Cove and the Redbud Resource Group, further highlighting the dedication to promoting entrepreneurship within the Native arts community and growing the Indigenous Arts Ecology in California.

First Peoples Fund's NAPD program offers two distinct training opportunities. The first is the Native Artist Professional Development Training, a comprehensive two-day program tailored for artists at any stage of their entrepreneurship. It equips them with essential knowledge, tools, and confidence to navigate the intricacies of a professional artistic career. Emphasizing values-based education, this program recognizes the business of art and cultural expression as an avenue for leadership, enabling artists to realize their vision of success.

The second opportunity is the Community-Based Certifications. This aspect of the program certifies participants as Native Arts Professional Development trainers. It is ideal for artists aspiring to become mentors and financial and non-profit professionals seeking to work with artists. The certification offers expertise to artists interested in initiating or expanding their businesses, fostering a supportive network and nurturing a thriving Indigenous Arts Ecology.

“By the end of the class, we want our participants to come out with the beginnings of an established business plan… They will hopefully gain a foundation for a business plan or usable, functioning business model,” Lucero said.

First Peoples Fund's trainers, hailing from diverse backgrounds across the United States, represent a wide spectrum of professional artists and entrepreneurs. Their dedication to supporting an Indigenous Arts Ecology is instrumental in building a community where artists, cultures, and communities can flourish.

+ Interested in participating in or hosting an NAPD workshop? Visit our calendar for the most up-to-date information on upcoming NAPD workshops. More information on the NAPD program can be found here, or contact Juan Lucero or Jaren Bonillo for more information.

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