Ford Foundation’s IllumiNation Program Grants Support Native American Arts, Artists and Cultures

From the Ford Foundation press release:
“New York, July 6, 2007 — Celebrating and supporting the rich traditions and contemporary expression of Native American arts and cultures are at the heart of a major Ford Foundation initiative.

IllumiNation is a $1.9 million dollar program established by the foundation to strengthen Indigenous arts and cultures throughout the United States. Acknowledging that art and the creative process are essential to the continuing development of Native American culture, the program will, among other things, offer support to Indigenous artists and performers, encourage entrepreneurship and help build networks between individuals and organizations across the country

Under the program, a select number of arts organizations have been awarded two-year grants of up to $250,000 that are then disseminated to individual artists, community groups and institutions. The seven Ford grantees participating in the program have created a national support network for the contemporary Native American arts community. Through the program, they have sustained artists and organizations in communities across the country, supported cultural creativity and self-determination and exposed the larger arts community to Native American perspectives.

IllumiNation is a reflection of the foundation’s commitment to Native America. The largest and most enduring funder of Native American projects in the country, the foundation has invested more than $80 million in Native American programs over the last 20 years. In addition to our work in the arts, grants and programs have supported economic and community development efforts and advanced education and human rights.

Later this year, the foundation will launch a new Native American arts and culture fund with an initial endowment of $5 million designed to strengthen philanthropic networks of tribes, foundations, corporations and individuals. The fund will extend the work of the IllumiNation program and its commitment to Native American arts.

Ford grantees participating in the IllumiNation program include:

First Peoples Fund
Rapid City, South Dakota

A Native-controlled, national organization, First Peoples Fund is dedicated to cultivating arts leadership among Native Americans, supporting entrepreneurial artists and sustaining arts and culture at the community level. An IllumiNation grant will help First Peoples Fund increase its re-granting to American Indian artists.

Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development
Arcata, California

With its IllumiNation grant, the Seventh Generation Fund is expanding its work with Native artists and arts organizations and further developing its Arts and Cultural Expression program. The fund is the oldest continually operating Native American intermediary grant-making organization in the United States. Since its founding in 1977, the fund has assisted hundreds of Indigenous groups and projects, including more than 30 arts organizations.

National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.

Since 1996, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has re-granted to approximately 50 Native artists. With its IllumiNation grant, the museum is expanding its already strong re-granting program for visiting artists, community artists, community art symposia and its Youth Mural Project. In addition, NMAI will provide training and assistance for tribal cultural centers and museums to curate exhibits in their own communities.

Eiteljorg Museum of the American Indian and Western Art
Indianapolis, Indiana

One of the only museums of its kind in the Midwest, the Eiteljorg Museum has a premier collection of traditional and contemporary Native American and Western art. The museum’s hallmark effort is its Fellowship for Native American Fine Art program, which has provided more than $1 million in support to Native artists over the last decade. The IllumiNation grant is helping the museum extend and expand the fellowship program.

American Composers Forum
St. Paul, Minnesota

An IllumiNation grant is providing support for the American Composers Forum’s First Nations Composers Initiative, helping Native American composers and musicians throughout the United States. The initiative builds on Ford’s commitment to helping the forum link communities with Native American composers and performers while encouraging the development of new music.

The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

The Evergreen State College has a long history of bolstering Native American communities, offering a variety of Native American-focused programs and opportunities. With the establishment of its Longhouse Education and Cultural Center’s Native Economic Development Arts Initiative, the college promotes education, artistic creativity and economic development for Native artists. The center is using its IllumiNation grant to broaden its re-granting programs and become a national resource for Native artists through its extensive artist-in-residence program.

New England Foundation for the Arts
Boston, Massachusetts

The New England Foundation for the Arts is using its IllumiNation grant to expand its Native Arts Initiative. The initiative includes a newly established regional Native arts re-granting program, efforts to engage the tribal communities in the field of the arts and support for the advancement of Native American artists and arts organizations on a national scale.”


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