Native Arts & Cultures Foundation (NACF) is amongst our deeply valued partners in robustly supporting the arts as a means toward healing and preserving indigenous cultures. We have been privileged to support Hawai’i Poet Laureate Kealoha’s multi-media performance creation story based on Native Hawaiian oral traditions and science, entitled The Story of Everything (TSOE). TSOE was originally incubated through NACF’s Community Inspiration Program, which focuses on projects that are artist-driven and designed to connect Native and non-Native people in community conversations that address pressing social, cultural, and environmental concerns to create positive change.
Our foundation also had the pleasure of supporting stage performances of The Story of Everything with NACF for Bioneers Conference in November 2017 and a sold-out production at Hawai’i Theater Centre in March 2019. Our further development and filming of this piece has resulted in a feature film, soon to be released. We recognize the lifelong efforts of Kealoha and the other talented artists, musicians and dancers who are part of TSOE, as well as the inspiring foundations’ shoulders we stand on.
It’s heartening during this difficult time to reflect on the ongoing, vital work NACF does to, “promote the revitalization, appreciation, and perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures through grantmaking, convening, and advocacy.” NACF just awarded their 2020 Mentor Artist Fellowships to eleven artists, each selected to receive a $30,000 fellowship award that will support an emerging Native artist in a structured fifteen-month program of intensive one-to-one mentoring with an established Native artist. The program has “proven to propel emerging artists and their careers, revitalize cultural and artistic practices within communities, and strengthen the mentoring skills of established Native artists and culture bearers.”
Established in 2009, as of December 2019 NACF has supported over 350 Native artists and organizations in 34 states and the District of Columbia through a variety of well-planned and executed programs, including the Mentor Artist Fellowship and Community Inspiration Program. Poet Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke Nation who has just been appointed to a second term as U.S. Poet Laureate (the first Indigenous artist to have held the position), is a longterm member of the NACF Board of Directors. Her words speak to the heart of why arts funding for the Indigenous community matters so much: “I was taught that our arts carry the spirit of the people. It is through art that we know ourselves. It’s through art into the world and it is through art cultures will be remembered.”
Our CEO Mona Abadir, who is also chair of the NACF’s National Leadership Council and a long-time advisor and friend of NACF, tells us that:
“We feel fortunate to have opportunities to creatively collaborate on long-term projects with the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, which in turn energize our shared missions. We are happy to support and share news of the vital work they do in this world. The profound wisdom Indigenous cultures offer is to heed the call to a more authentic, integrated and far more responsible way of living on our shared earth