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Around the 'Ground - Round II, Part IV: Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance

Posted 3/20/2024

Our region’s creative ecosystem is such a rich and broad array – we couldn’t even attempt to serve everyone without community partners helping to make connections and give feedback. We are so grateful! Here's our next installment of the Around the ‘Ground series where we spotlight our partnerships a few at a time. You can catch up on Part I with NH and VTPart II with RI and MA and Part III with ArtsHub of MA, then check out our Q&A below with Dawn Spears from the Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance, an Indigenous-led service organization that provides opportunities for regional Indigenous artists through professional development and network building activities:

What's one situation or setting where you shared CreativeGround with a constituent?

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Description automatically generated Dawn: Through NIAA (Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance), I encourage artists to create a profile. CreativeGround is one way for indigenous artist to have visibility in our region. I work with cohorts of artists and I always share CreativeGround with them. At our recent workshops we walked through how to create and update a profile and highlighted the many ways having a profile is beneficial.

Do you use CreativeGround in your own work? If so, how?

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Description automatically generated Dawn: I have my own profile but I also advise/mentor other artists and organizations who want to work with Indigenous artists. My goal is to share tips and shortcuts from my personal artist experience or journey because no one was there to help me. I feel like it's all about advocacy and all of these different battles: I give examples of what I've seen and what I've seen work for other people and direct them to other people if I don't have the advice.

What's your favorite feature of the new site?

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Description automatically generated Dawn: The narrative section where the artist or organization can describe who they are and what they do in their own words. And, of course, the Special Designation for Native American Artists. It’s an important way for presenters and programmers to find us. We are the invisible population because we have integrated into this landscape. This space allows us to have a Native Artist designation, which makes finding an indigenous artist easier.

I appreciate having the media gallery where I can upload new images to show what I’m doing at any given time; I’m always adding new types of work. And the “I Have Worked With” is an excellent record to show your relationships and all spaces that you’re working in. Plus, it’s also an online résumé and reminder of your work in the region…Lots of things!

NEFA frequently gets requests from people outside of New England for a searchable directory like CreativeGround. Why do you think it's important for us to have this unique resource in our region?

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Description automatically generated Dawn: We can be listed in other spaces or sites of course, but to have the visibility and also be able to search for resources you might need…especially for this region – we need to make sure that people hire and buy work from our Indigenous Artists, who are very present and incredibly talented. You don’t need to bring artists from outside the Northeast when you have such a robust list of talent, right here.

We have some absolutely amazing and incredible artists like Aquinnah Wampanoag artist Tiffany Vanderhoop whose earrings were just spotted on Academy Award winner Lily Gladstone! We have artists who are gaining international honors like Passamaquoddy weaver Jeremy Frey and national honors like Penobscot weaver Theresa Secord.

Thank you to NIAA and all our partners for your continued support and stay tuned for the next stop Around the 'Ground - Round II, Part V!