Alutiiq Museum launches Arts Advocacy Project to support Native artists

An employee of the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak displays a beaded dance belt and cuffs, part of the Pinart Collection on loan from the Museum Bologne-Sur-Mer on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KMXT)

The Alutiiq Museum is launching a new Arts Advocacy Project to support Native artists in Kodiak. The project comes from a nearly $19,000 grant from the Alaska Community Foundation’s Alaska Native Social Justice Fund. The idea, says Gallery Coordinator Marlise Lee, is to support Native artists who are trying to make a living off their work.

“We’re going to be asking people what things they think would really help them with their their career,” she said, adding that it could be something as simple as arranging for business cards or flyers, or setting up a website. “I’ve helped one artist already, she needed photos of headdresses. Offering professional photography that can be been submitted for grant applications, or Etsy and online sales.”

The grant allows the museum to select up to 10 artists for arts and career support. The museum will also be producing a webinar series to make those resources more accessible to a wider audience.

“I think that we will be looking for a lot of local Alutiiq artists who have kind of started their their career in the arts that are just wanting help to take it to the next level or wanting some help applying to arts foundations, things like that,” Lee said.

She adds that the artists don’t need to live in Kodiak, necessarily, meaning Alutiiq artists living in the villages or the mainland are also welcome to apply.

“We really feel it’s very important to be able to help artists and help locals be able to make a living with their art,” she said.

Lee stresses that an important part of the project is educating the public — including tourists — about the benefits of purchasing locally produced art. For that reason, the museum will also be investing in new signage in the museum store and a media campaign to talk about the importance of local art.

Visitors, she said, “Sometimes … don’t really know much about the local culture, or they don’t know why [it is] better to buy something that’s handcrafted versus something that’s mass produced in another country.” Updated rack cards in the museum store will help to explain artists’ backgrounds as well as why it’s important to put money toward supporting their work.

Applications for the Arts Advocacy Project is open from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. Acceptance decisions will be announced Dec. 20.