REDCLOUD_MAY

The Heritage Center at the Red Cloud Indian School received a first round grant from ArtPlace to increase economic development, tourism and self-sufficiency among the Lakota People and other Native Americans by capitalizing on the distinctiveness of their artwork.

Peter Hill, communications director for the Red Cloud Indian School, brings us an update in the project:

The Heritage Center is located four miles outside of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, a town of roughly 3,500 people. The closest “city” of any size to Pine Ridge is Rapid City, SD, with a population of approximately 65,000 people. The closest major metropolitan area to Pine Ridge is Denver, which is 350 miles away.

Therefore, the problem of attracting people in the wider art world to Red Cloud is not simply a matter of prominent signage or a dramatic building façade, it is getting folks to venture within a couple hundred miles of the institution.

Despite these obstacles, The Heritage Center has built up a tremendous network of friends and supporters since its founding over forty years ago. As a part of Red Cloud Indian School (www.redcloudschool.org) THC benefits from the school’s extensive publicity and fundraising efforts.

In the past 15 years or so, the existence of the internet has bolstered the Center’s ability to showcase itself and reach people across the country and internationally. The Heritage Center has its own website (www.redcloudschool.org/museum), as well as a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/TheHeritageCenteratRedCloud). These sites have broadened THC’s reach considerably.

An example of how our networking has allowed us to reach a broader audience is a recent event Red Cloud hosted. Last week, board members and executives from the arts world traveled from all across the country to campus for a seminar put on by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, part of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

The location was chosen by DeVos at the urging of Roberta Uno, a senior program officer at the Ford Foundation. Uno, who joined Ford 2002, manages the arts and culture portfolio for the organization. Her office is currently partnered with Leveraging Investments and Creativity in a ten-year initiative focused on fostering and expanding artistic spaces in underserved areas. She is also part of a four-person team administering a Ford Foundation initiative entitled, “Supporting Diverse Arts Spaces”.

Uno had been to the campus and the museum before, and it had made a strong impression on her, as an institution that is a prime example of the type of artistic space that she works hard to support. In championing Red Cloud as a venue for this major event, Uno wanted the attendees to get a firsthand look at a wonderful arts venue that they would likely never otherwise see. She also wanted them to be exposed in general to a rural area that struggles to get enough funding for the arts.

This is just one example among many of ways that The Heritage Center has reached far beyond the confines of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and through the help of a prominent friend and supporter, put ourselves on the map.

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