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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 3, 2004 - Issue 110


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ST. PAUL, MINN. -To address the need to raise national consciousness regarding the diversity of American Indian musical forms, the Ford Foundation has granted planning funds to the American Composers Forum (ACF) to develop an organized infrastructure representative of the field of American Indian music. To be called the First Nations Composer Initiative (FNCI), this project will provide a critical response to the issues, needs, and concerns of American Indian musical artists. ACF and FNCI plan to establish a "virtual" chapter of the American Composers Forum to provide a network for interchange in the field of American Indian music. Both Indians and non-Indians will benefit from FNCI by encouraging the composition of music by American Indian artists and providing linkages to a broad array of composftional opportunities and performing venues.

In a few months, FNCI will host an initial convening of experienced American Indian Composers to shape the overall direction of the initiative, to be followed by a larger convening for the field at large. This effort is part of a new initiative at the Ford Foundation to encourage support of American Indian Artists of all disciplines.

Many ideas are being suggested for FNCI's future, and the possibilities are exciting:

• Showcasing Indian compositions in established venues on a regular basis.

  • Establishing composition camps to teach various musical genres to American Indian youth. (ACF has just received additional funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board to do research with Tribal Elders and Youth from the eleven Tribal reservations in Minnesota).
  • Establishing an artist roster of American Indian film composers for film producers.
  • Developing a record label that promotes the highly varied music that American Indians are composing and performing.
  • Linking composers and museums together to create new commissioning opportunities.

The goal of FNCI is to provide mechanisms and supports through which the many voices of American Indian musical artists can be heard. A new FNCI website is also planned to provide a centralized forum for the community of American Indian musical artists, and a springboard for the advancement of American Indian professional musical careers.

About American Composers Forum
The American Composer Forum pioneers projects that actively involve communities and composers. It facilitates residencies and new musical works that renew and fortify relationships between artists and the public. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Forum has regional chapters in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and the Washington D.C. area. Membership in the American Composers Forum is open to all.

About the Ford Foundation
In the arena of arts and cultures, the Ford Foundation fosters new artistic talent, strengthens arts institutions, attends to cultural knowledge and resources and encourages contributions of artists and art and culture organizations to the quality of civic life and assists projects that advance understanding of cultural identity and community.

For more information, contact Patricia Shifferd
(, 651-251-2818)

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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