As an entrepreneur developer we see the significant contribution artists and their artwork can have on a local economy. Not only are they small business owners, they are also spokespersons for their subject matter, their culture, and their community. Art is just one of many opportunities to create a destination point to attract visitors to a community, with visitors patronizing the local businesses while they are there.
Some artists do not consider themselves artists. Some say, “I just make quilts” or “this is just a hobby.” However, their creations are spectacular and in the eyes of those around them, it is beautiful art. We strive to help identify these creative individuals and encourage them to share their creations with the public.
We see hundreds of artists in every community. Some have taken the steps needed to sell their art within the community while others have not. An artist may create a few items to sell to earn the money they need at the moment or choose to create a larger quantity while still maintaining their uniqueness as an artist. Each artist is unique with their own individual goals. However, one thing they all have in common is their struggle to reach a market that will pay what their creations are truly worth.
What is the Need?
Artists, with today’s technology, have the capability to reach a worldwide audience with their creations. The understanding that Indigenous Art is highly sought after due to its unique culture and history means artists have new and expanded opportunities to market themselves off the Reservation.
Artists may need help defining their market and how to reach it. By going down this path, they need to create the inventory level needed to serve that market and the capacity to continuously market themselves properly to retain that market.
Artists tend to be overly flexible with their pricing to meet the customer’s ability or willingness to pay and make a sale. Financial capability and education are needed to understand that this devalues their art and their legitimacy as an artist.
Our goal is to assist artists with market research and planning, as well as provide the educational and financial services needed to reach their markets off the Reservation.
The Anishinaabe Art Festival and creative business development initiative is a creative placemaking opportunity to support art businesses and celebrate the rich Anishinaabeg history and culture of the region. The three tribes of Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth and the City of Bemidji have joined together to create pathways for more inclusion of Indigenous artists, create access to high-value markets, and to create an exchange of cultural knowledge.
To provide artist training and business support to participate with more art events off the Reservation to expand their market reach and increase visibility of Indigenous art and culture in the region.
To create intercultural knowledge, and reduce stereotyping and racism, while creating economic opportunity.
To establish an art festival that presents quality Indigenous art work.