The International Folk Art Alliance Expands Its Mentor to Market Training Programs for Master Artists
The innovative business development programs, now in their eleventh year, match business leaders with master folk artists to help meet the challenges of the new global marketplace.

January 1, 2016 Santa Fe, New Mexico—As part of its ongoing mission to promote the global artist economy through education and sustainable business development, the International Folk Art Alliance is continuing to grow its Mentor to Market programs, providing master folk artists with opportunities to develop their businesses and navigate the global marketplace while preserving their artistic and cultural traditions.

With the IFAA’s International Folk Art Market  |  Santa Fe now in its thirteenth year and the Mentor to Market program in its eleventh year, one thing is clear: To nourish the unparalleled talent of folks artists around the world, these artists—many of whom live in developing countries where the average person gets by on less than $3 a day—need more markets, more capacity building, and more opportunities to participate in the formal economy. For this reason, the Mentor to Market (M2M) programs provide artists with critical tools and training as well as ways to connect with the rest of the world.

“Craft is the second-largest income generator in the developing world, but the barriers faced are many,” says Jeff Snell, IFAA’s CEO. “We’re deeply committed to helping them meet those challenges in a number of ways. If we can offer programs that teach how to better navigate the demands of selling work in the global marketplace, they become vibrant cultural entrepreneurs who can leverage their art to create economic and social value both for themselves and for their entire communities.”

Through varied curricula including an online learning lab, artist-to-artist teaching, a mentor program, and a partnership with the Dallas Market Center, M2M provides master folk artists with the opportunity to build upon their business through export guidance, sales tips, and classes on pricing, merchandising, and much more. The mentors who participate include prominent industry professionals, and the M2M programs have received financial support from BNY Mellon, UNESCO, the Kellogg Foundation, EILEEN FISHER, and others. Over the years, more than 900  artists from more than 40 countries have received invaluable training. Through the M2M programs, as well as participation in the Market itself, artists develop the skills to improve their businesses, build assets, and gain economic security for themselves, their families, and their communities. They also acquire the confidence to be successful in the global marketplace. They become their own powerful agents of change. M2M supports artists across four main tracks:

  1. Preparing for Your First Market: Because the Santa Fe Market is often their first global marketplace experience, artists in the Preparing for Your First Market program are provided with education on booth display, customer service, marketing and merchandising, the role of volunteers, and how to tell your story to your potential buyers. This program takes place in Santa Fe in the days leading up to the Market.
  2. Returning Artist Entrepreneur Education: For the first time this year, M2M will be offering a menu of topics, selected by past artists, during a full day of programming prior to the Santa Fe market. The topics will fall under the themes business management, marketing & promotion, costing and pricing, and finding new markets.  In addition there will be time allocated to artists who want to learn from each other about topics they initiate.
  3. Preparing for the Export Marketplace: This is an advanced course for alumni artists who want to engage in the wholesale marketplace. Online education, completed over several months, includes selecting an export collection, customer relations, order fulfillment, quality control, and marketing and development of promotional materials. Prior to this summer’s Market in Santa Fe, these artists will participate in the International Folk Art Market Collection in the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market, June 21-26.  This will be the sixth year that artists from the program will be in Dallas. One of the largest wholesale markets in the country, the Dallas Market will provide some artists with their first direct encounter with the wholesale ordering process. More important, the artists are given a crucial opportunity to meet potential wholesale buyers and form long-term, year-round relationships.  In 2015, artist sales totaled over $225,000.
  4. IFAM | Online Learning Lab: This education program began in February 2014 with the purpose of providing artists with an online educational program designed to help increase their year-round sales and develop their export business skills. With individual support from mentors, the artists participate in the course at the same time as they fulfill orders for the program’s online store.  In September 2014 IFAA launched the IFAM | Online store where these one-of-a-kind products are sold year-round through the IFAA website.

The program initially involved 18 artists and cooperatives from 16 countries, representing some 4,200 artists. The program has now grown to include 30 artists and cooperatives from 26 countries, representing 9,350 artists.  Of these, over 90 percent are women, and their earnings impact an estimated 93,500 community members. IFAA will continue to help artists broaden their customer base and strengthen their capacity to expand their export business.

The International Folk Art Alliance, a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, works in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the City of Santa Fe. Partially funded by the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission and the 1% Lodgers’ Tax and the County of Santa Fe Lodgers’ Tax. IFAA is an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative and a founding member of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, founded by the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute.

For more information, interview requests, and photos, please contact Clare Hertel at 505-474-6783 or clare@clarehertelcommunications.com for national media; for New Mexico media contact Kathy Joyce at 505-992-7602 or kathyj@folkartmarket.org

 

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