COVID Grant Funds Indigenous Performance Productions in WA
The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Olympia-based Indigenous Performance Productions $100,000 in funds from the American Rescue Plan grant to help the arts and culture sector recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an effort to make the southern Salish Sea region a center for the development of new Indigenous performing arts, the nonprofit will use the funding to increase organizational capacity, expand the community of Indigenous artists it serves, and provide artists with better live and virtual performance opportunities and community outreach engagements.
“We are humbled by this investment in our organization and thank the National Endowment for the Arts for their belief in the power and transformation that storytelling can bring. This award marks a transformative moment for Indigenous Performance Productions and will increase our ability to break down barriers and create sustainability for Indigenous performing artists nationwide,” said Executive Creative Producer and Founder of Indigenous Performance. Productions Andre Bouchard in a press release.
The initial installment of $60,000 went to Indigenous Performance Productions in March and the remaining $40,000 will be paid out next fall, the organization told McClatchy.
The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded more than $57 million to arts organizations across the country.
“Our country’s arts sector has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts bailout will help arts organizations, such as Indigenous Performance Productions, rebuild and reopen,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, president of the National Endowment for the Arts, in a statement. hurry.
With grant support, Indigenous Performance Productions will launch three new full-scale productions, each premiere or stop at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts at Olympia.
The first show is Indigenous Big Band by Julia Keefepremiere at the center on May 19.
“The big band is an interesting idea because there is a long and rich history between Native Americans and jazz big bands. There is documented evidence of a dozen all-Native big bands in the jazz era,” Bouchard said in an interview with McClatchy.
The next production is Native American Comedy Stars show, premiering in Portland on November 4 with two shows at Olympia on November 5 and November 21.
“There’s a critical mass of Native American comedians — people who wrote for ‘Ruthford Falls,’ ‘Reservation Dogs,’ or are part of the Upright Citizens Brigade,” he said.
“Aunties», a storytelling project celebrating Indigenous matriarchs, will be at the Olympia Center on November 5th.
Since its founding in 2016, Indigenous Performance Productions has supported 73 dance, music, theater and multidisciplinary artists since its inception as Walrus Arts Management. Before the pandemic, it produced between 30 and 40 performances a year.
In 2019, the company transitioned from a limited liability company and booking agency to a non-profit production house – booking and touring while developing productions and educational services. He moved to Olympia and with the help of grants the budget grew and the staff increased.
“I do this for my community. I believe in my heart that if we passed on more stories, connections and community to our youth, suicide and addiction wouldn’t be such a big problem in our communities,” said Bouchard, who grew up on the reservation. Indian from Flathead, Montana and is of Kootenai, Ojibwe, Pend d’Oreille and Salish descent.
Indigenous Performance Productions launched its first large-scale project “Welcome to Indian Country” in May 2021 with the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. The show — a five-piece musical ensemble joined by storyteller, Lummi Nation Tribal member and Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest — will complete a nine-city tour by the end of 2022.
“Whether it’s dance or performance, modernity or tradition, I don’t think Aboriginal people need to be limited by traditional ways of telling stories,” Bouchard said. “It’s evolving into ideas that are uniquely Indigenous and that idea is what so few know outside of Indigenous circles. Indigenous artists do uncompromising work in their seasons – work that doesn’t apologize or pull punches. A work that is both humorous and confrontational and enjoyable overall.
The production house prides itself on a unique approach to working with artists.
“The sustainability of Indigenous artists and storytellers is earned income. After that first infusion of resources,” Bouchard said of the grant, “it’s sustained income for about 20 artists. We pay artists well, above industry average, and exempt family members from traveling with them on the road. We make room in the budget because we value the presence of entire families.
Over the past six years, Indigenous Performance Productions has raised and disbursed $1.2 million in grants and donations paid in residency and touring fees for Indigenous artists.
For Indigenous Performance Productions, the funding is transformational as it dramatically increases not only its budget, but also what the production house can apply for in the future. Receiving a six-figure grant opens doors in the world of fundraising, Bouchard explained.
“The work we do – there is a price to pay, but the most important thing is that we do work that our community is invested in, that gives them hope, that resonates with them, that has meaning in many ways. And luckily the money on the other side has been there for what I imagined and my creative partners imagined. The significance to these Indigenous artists and communities is priceless,” he said.
In the future, the organization plans launch an annual international festival of performing arts and Indigenous gatherings.
“It would be an affirmation of people who survived colonization. Who pushes those ideas back, reclaims community and history,” he said.
For a tour schedule and tickets for Indigenous Performance Productions showsvisit indigenousperformance.org.