Inaugural Virtual Indian Market Drives Sales, Membership

Southwestern Association for Indian Arts new Executive Director Kim Peone. Courtesy/SWAIA

SWAIA News:

SANTA FE — The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts announces a successful conclusion and excellent sales results from the organization’s first-ever Virtual Indian Market.

The virtual market drove sales for SWAIA’s 450 participating artists and increased membership by 144 percent.

Under the leadership of SWAIA’s new Executive Director Kim Peone (Colville Confederated Tribes / Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) and SWAIA’s board of directors, the organization pivoted to launch a reimagined, digital Indigenous art marke Aug. 1-31.

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 SWAIA 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 SWAIA 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,” Kim Peone said.

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

“We were thrilled and grateful for all that SWAIA 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 SWAIA initiative, whose preliminary plans and successful launch was achieved this August, is the virtual “NDN World” on the Vircadia platform. SWAIA 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 Nov. 27, 2020. Stay tuned for more details.

About SWAIA

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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