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Arts Investment Forum

Native Artists: Livelihoods, Resource, Space, Gifts
Topic(s): creative industries and entrepreneurship, artists' labour markets, research on arts and cultural economics
Keywords:  Native American Artists - artists training - entrepreneurship - markets - economies - cultural life - audiences - income generation

Native American artists face special challenges in making a living from their work. This paper explores Native artists training, mentoring, earnings, entrepreneurship and access to resources and markets based on interviews with dozens of Ojibwe artists and gatekeepers (managers of space and resources). In addition to the challenges of racism and geographic isolation (even in cities), Native artists’ embeddedness in their communities and values such as gift-giving, cooperating and “not standing out” often clash with conventional norms of artistic aspiration and self-promotion. In addition, their uses of materials, rituals and sacred practices outside of the community are often controversial. Nevertheless, many Native artists successfully bridge traditional with contemporary artistic forms and content. Some make crucial contributions to local economies and cultural life. Some succeed in marketing their work to non-Native audiences. The paper explores ways that economic models of career development can be tailored to cover indigenous artists and account for extraordinary challenges and non-monetized outcomes.

Author / Published by: Ann Markusen and Marcie Rendon, ACEI
Year of publication: 2010
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