The International Folk Art Alliance
Expands Its Mentor to Market Programs for
The innovative business development programs, now in their twelfth year, respond to the needs of master folk artists as they navigate the challenges of the new global marketplace
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 (IFAA) is continuing to grow its Mentor to Market (M2M) 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 fourteenth year, and the Mentor to Market program in its twelfth 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 $3.10 a day—need more markets, more capacity building, and more opportunities to participate in the formal economy. For this reason, 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 their businesses through export guidance, sales tips, and classes on pricing, merchandising, and 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:
- 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.
- Inaugural IFAA Artist Conference: This new program will take place prior to the 2017 Santa Fe market and is open to all IFAA artists, new and returning. Artists will be able to choose from a menu of topics, all of which fall under the themesof business management, marketing and 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.
- 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 at the June 20-25 Dallas Total Home & Gift Market. 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 2016, artist sales at the Dallas Market totaled over $225,000.
- 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.
International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe is held in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the City of Santa Fe.
For more information, interview requests, and photos, please contact Clare Hertel at 505-474-6783 or firstname.lastname@example.org.