Terry Goedel, a Cahuilla Native American, performs a hoop dance with his son Michael Goedel as part of the 2008 summer program. The dance, handed down through generations, tells ancient stories that are very pivotal and important to the Cahuilla culture as a whole. File photo

The Idyllwild Arts Foundation will receive a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the fourth in the past several years. The money will support the Idyllwild Arts Native American Arts Program and Festival held during the school’s summer program each year.

“I’m very excited,” said Kathy Harmon-Luber, director of Development and Capital Campaign for the Foundation. “It’s a welcome blessing.”

The grant was announced last week as part of NEA’s nationwide announcement of 843 grants worth more than $22.5 million. The Idyllwild Arts Foundation was the only Riverside County recipient. NEA made 140 awards to California art and educational programs and institutions and the total grant funding exceeded $3.6 million.

But the NEA has been a longtime supporter of the Native American Arts program. In 1974, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities helped to bring Maria Martinez of the San Ildefonso pueblo to Idyllwild Arts to teach its first ceramic workshop for the Native American Arts program.

The 2009 Native American Arts Week program included a tribute to Cahuilla Elder Donna Mae Largo, who was known for her traditional basket weaving and reviving the tradition through teaching those skills to others. File photo
For more than 60 years, IA Native American Arts programs have played a profoundly essential role in sustaining the vitality, innovation and scope of Indigenous voices. The Native American Arts Program is exceptional in that it provides vital and significant contributions to the public sphere on two levels: the Native Arts Workshops give adults hands-on opportunities to learn from nationally-celebrated Native American artists while the Native American Arts Festival provides a public service to an under-served community, offering free performances, lectures, demonstrations, gallery events, and story-telling.

In July 2011, Brent Michael Davids, one of the 29 preeminent American choral composers and one of the foremost Native American musicians, concert and film composers of the 21st Century, was in residence for the program. During his week at IA, he helped four high school students from three local native groups compose a classical piece that the string orchestra performed at the closing event.

This program helps bring together a community of learners from across the country to create under the mentorship of some of the nation’s most renowned and respected Native American artists and teachers. It continues to set a new standard for elevating the scientific understanding, cultural insight, and enduring spirit of indigenous arts and artists. These projects demonstrate the imaginative and innovative capacities of artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.

The program uses grant funds to bring guests and speakers to the campus. They come from throughout the Southwest. “We have transportation costs, lodging and food, while they’re here,” explained Heather Companiott, director of adult programs for the IA summer program.

Besides the NEA grant, this year the program hopes to garner additional funding from a special incentive. “A generous anonymous donor has stepped forward this year to offer a dollar-for-dollar tribal challenge match. In other words, every dollar donated by a tribe will be worth double,” said Harmon-Luber. In the past, the program has received funding help from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Pechanga Resort & Casino, and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Idyllwild Arts Foundation was founded in 1946. The Native American Arts Program was launched in 1950 by Ataloa (a Chickasaw), and has grown into the renowned Native American Arts Program and Festival it is today. The mission of the Idyllwild Summer Arts Program is to provide for students of all ages and abilities the opportunity to benefit from arts instruction of the highest caliber.

The 2012 Idyllwild Arts Summer Program’s Native American Arts Festival will be held from July 2 to July 14.