Western Arts Alliance Places Indigenous Artists Center Stage

Jun 28 2018

Kale Hannahs (Native Hawaiian) participating in the Ceremonial Welcome at WAA’s 2015 Indigenous Performance Symposium. 

Portland, OR – Western Arts Alliance (WAA), the Portland-based performing arts service organization, is launching Advancing Indigenous Performance (AIP), a national program to create new touring and presentation opportunities for Indigenous performing artists. With a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, WAA is more than half-way to its goal of raising $1 million to support the program through 2021. 

Advancing Indigenous Performance will invest in building the professional capacities of Indigenous performing artists as it works to break down barriers in the performing arts. Finding more opportunities for performing arts centers to present the work of Indigenous performing artists will help erase centuries of invisibility, break down stereotypes, and contribute to the resiliency of Indigenous people in communities across the country.

“Artistic development, managing a career, building new work, touring and performing are tough enough for any artist, but for Indigenous artists, the challenges are greatly complicated by ongoing issues of colonization, racism, stereotyping, and access to resources,” said Tim Wilson, Executive Director of Western Arts Alliance. AIP will build capacity and networking opportunities for Indigenous performing artists (Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native American artists in the contiguous United States) through competitive grants that include mentoring aimed at career-advancement; professional development; showcasing opportunities; and, travel subsidies. Twelve artists will participate in the program for three years, with a total investment in each artist of $40,000. 

The program will also work to educate arts presenting and touring professionals about the cultural origins and work of Indigenous artists, and build strategies for integrating them into mainstream presenting and touring models. In addition, an Indigenous Artist Touring Fund will provide fee support to cultural organizations engaging Indigenous performing artists. 

For more information or to sign up for the Advancing Indigenous Performance email list visit: https://westarts.org/advancing-indigenous-performance
[Photos are available upon request.]


Western Arts Alliance (WAA) is a membership organization of touring and performing arts professionals engaged in promoting and presenting the performing arts. Established in 1967, WAA’s programs and services advance innovation, creative partnerships, personal connection, and the business of the performing arts.

The Western Arts Alliance Annual Conference draws over 800 attendees with a focus on discovery and connection. WAA’s conference brings together authoritative speakers and programs; professional development sessions; showcase performances; networking opportunities and social events to support the presentation of the performing arts. WAA provides access to contacts and information on more than 3,000 artists and attractions and 200 presenting organizations across the West. Collectively, WAA’s presenting venues and programs, offer more than 3,000 performances every year. 

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 
Founded in 1969. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.  To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at mellon.org.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.

National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.

Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation’s mission is to promote the revitalization, appreciation and perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures through grant making, convening and advocacy. To learn more about the NACF’s work— upholding our values through arts and cultures, visit: www.nativeartsandcultures.org.