Our friends and clients at First Peoples Fund in Rapid City, South Dakota, announced today the launch of Rolling Rez Arts, a a new state-of-the-art mobile arts space, business training center, and mobile bank that will offer art, business, retail and banking services on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Watch a video of Rolling Rez Arts' launch here:
When friends and colleagues ask me what gets me excited about the work we do at The Numad Group, I think instantly about projects like Rolling Rez Arts. Or even more so, I think about people like Lori Pourier, the president of First Peoples Fund, whose passion and determination and vision and dreams and heart are fueling the creative economy--and creative people--on Pine Ridge, in South Dakota, and all across our nation.
I get this question quite a lot: "Why support the arts?" There are so many important, worthy causes that need our attention... so many problems our world faces. So why focus on the arts?
There are plenty of reasons--the inherent economic benefits chief among them. We can point to the difference--and, frankly, the numbers--art and culture is having on Pine Ridge as one example by flipping through, and digesting for one's self, the first-in-the-nation market study by First Peoples Fund: Establishing a Creative Economy: Art as an Economic Engine in Native Communities.
The study reveals facts, insights and possibilities that have been overlooked and untapped, and is rooted in market research conducted in Washington, Oregon, Montana and South Dakota. The report makes the case of Native arts as a strong and available economic force in Indian Country.
This is all well, good and incredibly important. The study and the data roots the work. But what is even more important, now, is what is done with the data. How it informs progress. How it moves projects. How it becomes a document that takes on a life... rather than sitting on a shelf never to be used again.
This is one of the beauties of what I believe First Peoples Fund does. They base themselves in research. They think critically. They bring good people together interested in doing good things. And then they take action.
That's how (if you watched the video above) dropping a pebble in the water creates a ripple effect, as First Peoples Fund's Founder Jennifer Easton so poignantly said.
Think about the ripple effect that the market study has had on the creation of Rolling Rez Arts, and the impact that now Rolling Rez Arts will have on the people it will serve.
It unleashes possibility.
It creates connections.
It spurs new ideas... and reignites hope.
It fuels not just a creative economy, but creative people.
If the arts are going to take their rightful place as an important weave in the cultural fabric of our towns, cities, and nations, we--as a people--must fuel our minds and our souls with the understanding (or perhaps a better word is "acceptance") that art plays a critical part in how we live our lives, make decisions, and paint a brighter future for all.
Supporting the arts is not just about allowing a theater to produce a play, a museum to hang a painting, or a symphony to put on a concert.
When we support the arts, we call humanity to action... people who drop pebbles... pebbles that create ripples that can spread across whole oceans.