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NEA grant helps First Peoples Fund bring celebration home



RAPID CITY –– First Peoples Fund announced today that its biannual celebration of Native arts and culture, the Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards, will return to Rapid City on Sat., Oct. 8, 2016 with help from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The Community Spirit Awards is at the heart of First Peoples Fund’s work and we are thrilled to bring the celebration home to Rapid City. The NEA’s support allows us to create rare educational opportunities in the Pine Ridge and Rapid City communities to share the artistic and ancestral knowledge of the exceptional Native artists and culture bearers whom we will be celebrating this fall,” said First Peoples Fund President Lori Pourier.

The Community Spirit Awards honor and celebrate American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native artists and culture bearers. The performance began in Rapid City in 2000 and later moved to Minneapolis. The awards are named for First Peoples Fund’s founder, Jennifer Easton.

This year’s event will be held at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. The evening includes a pre-show silent auction featuring work by First Peoples Fund’s current and past artist fellows and honorees, among the most outstanding artists in Indian Country. The performance weaves together contemporary and traditional music, dance, film and poetry and is once again being produced by Rapid City director Justin Speck.

“The evening shines a light on the wisdom and generosity of these culture bearers, connecting us to our shared values and building upon Rapid City’s own community spirit that we see happening,” Pourier said.

Tickets to the Community Spirit Awards will be available at the Performing Arts Center’s website, starting June 1.

The NEA’s announcement that Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects and partnerships for fiscal year 2016, including an Art Works award for First Peoples Fund, was the organization’s second major funding announcement of the year.

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu.

Pourier said First Peoples Fund will use NEA funds to bring workshops for youth and emerging artists that feature the Community Spirit honorees to Pine Ridge aboard the organization’s new mobile arts bus, Rolling Rez Arts, in October.

(Contact Anna Huntington, Development Director (605) 348-0324 for more information.)

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