Member Spotlight on Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

For the month of May, GIA’s photo banner features artists and projects supported by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF). Launched in 2009, NACF is a unique, national organization dedicated to strengthening Native arts, perpetuating culture resilience, and bringing together diverse communities to drive social impact. Through philanthropy and partnership, its main areas of focus include individual artist fellowships and community inspiration projects. Other areas of work involve advocacy for American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native artists and organizations.

One of NACF’s focus areas is the Community Inspiration Program (CIP), which is a new effort launched two years ago. Projects involve artists and communities working together on social issues of collective concern. One project, “The Story of Everything” is an explosive spoken word poetry and multimedia performance addressing climate change and our creation stories from both a scientific and Native Hawaiian perspective. It premiered in September 2015 and is led by Hawaii’s first poet laureate Kealoha Wong and an ensemble of other artists. During the creation of the project, Kealoha sought feedback from students, teachers, artists, scientists, and cultural practitioners. Efforts are underway to expand the project and examine its impact, including how to more fully engage the public in science, culture, and climate change.

A second project, “Repellent Fence”, was led by the indigenous collaborative Postcommodity. The project involved extensive community development in the border communities of Arizona and Mexico with mayors, community leaders, border patrol, artists, students, businesses and educators. The effort culminated with a symposium and celebration on both sides of the border and a public art installation of 26 10-feet diameter balloons that were erected crossing the U.S./Mexico border creating a ‘suture’ reconnecting two communities and indigenous peoples separated by a steel beam fence and homeland security enforcement.

NACF is excited that greater attention to the inequities in society and the challenges people face in communities is being brought to the forefront by so many artists, organizations, and movements. President and CEO T. Lulani Arquette shares:

The sheer talent, depth of creativity, and beauty that we encounter keeps us humble and in awe. We are hopeful there is more awareness and interest from philanthropy, government, and all sectors in leveling the “playing field” and attending to our collective interests. The opportunity is ripe for expanded partnerships and coalitions to nurture the power and passion of creative expression to connect people, explore new ideas and address pressing social, environmental, and cultural issues.

NACF has been a GIA member since 2009, the same year of its inception. President/CEO Lulani Arquette is also a current GIA board member.

Learn more about Native Arts and Cultures Foundation’s grantmaking programs.

You can also visit the photo gallery on the Photo Credits page.