Southwestern Association for Indian Arts' inaugural Virtual Indian Market drives sales and membership

Pictured: Kim Peone, Colville Confederated Tribes / Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Southwestern Association for Indian Arts’ Executive Director.(Photo: Tira Howard, courtesy Southwestern Association for Indian Arts)

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A Virtual Winter Indian Market is planned for November 27, 2020

News Release

Southwestern Association for Indian Arts

The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts is pleased to announce a successful conclusion and excellent sales results from the organization’s first-ever Virtual Indian Market. The virtual market drove sales for Southwestern Association for Indian Arts' 450 participating artists and increased membership by 144 percent.

Under the leadership of Southwestern Association for Indian Arts’ new Executive Director, Kim Peone, Colville Confederated Tribes / Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Southwestern Association for Indian Arts’ board of directors, the organization pivoted to launch a reimagined, digital Indigenous art market — August 1 to August 31, 2020.

Out of the 1,117 Indigenous artists who were juried into the 2020 Santa Fe Indian Market, 450 artists joined the inaugural Virtual Indian Market. Of the initial artist participants, only 77 artists had existing websites; at the time of the Virtual Indian Market launch that number increased to 450.

The Virtual Indian Market was made possible with the support of Artspan LLC (Artspan.com) which was responsible for helping Southwestern Association for Indian Arts artists build several hundred individually branded artist sites and integrating the sites into an art Marketplace. The Clark Hulings Fund also played an important role in providing business education and training to Southwestern Association for Indian Arts artists.

“We are hoping to attract more participants: artists who have been tracking and evaluating the virtual market. We hope these artists will make the decision to come onboard with us because this is something that we will continue to promote. We will continue to have events throughout the year to drive people to the artists’ websites,” said Kim Peone.

When evaluating the success of the virtual market, it is important to note that Southwestern Association for Indian Arts and the annual Santa Fe Indian Market are more than just a once-a-year sales opportunity; Southwestern Association for Indian Arts serves as a cultural and artistic meeting place and support organization for more than 1,000 Indigenous artists in both the United States and Canada.

We were thrilled and grateful for all that Southwestern Association for Indian Arts staff did for the artists this year,” said Barbara Harjo whose husband, Benjamin Harjo Jr., is a veteran and award-winning Santa Fe Indian Market artist. The couple has been attending and participating in Indian Market for over 30 years and the family has been involved since 1921.

“The virtual Indian Market kept us going at a time that we really needed the support and the momentum and we made sales too.”

An additional Southwestern Association for Indian Arts initiative, whose preliminary plans and successful launch was achieved this August, is the virtual “NDN World” on the Vircadia platform. Southwestern Association for Indian Arts staff will continue to develop, train and promote the virtual space as both as a market and meeting place.

A Virtual Winter Indian Market is planned for November 27, 2020. Stay tuned for more details. 

About Southwestern Association for Indian Arts

The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) is a non-profit organization supporting Native American arts and culture. It creates economic and cultural opportunities for Native American artists by producing and promoting the Santa Fe Indian Market, the biggest and most prestigious Indian art event in the world since 1922; cultivating excellence and innovation across traditional and non-traditional art forms; and developing programs and events that support, promote, and honor Native artists year-round. swaia.org 

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*Image: Southwestern Association for Indian Arts)
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