Mike Alexander, one of Kamloops’ most successful emerging indigenous artists, is now giving back to the community by offering an indigenous-centered arts grant to the public. This grant is geared towards First Nations, Inuit, Metis, and Non-Status artists who are looking to make the next step in their artistic journey. This $250 micro-grant will be awarded annually to two successful applicants in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Region, in partnership with the Kamloops Arts Council.
Alexander uses his art to communicate and share his thoughts and feelings with the world; he finds solace in his art, as many other artists can relate. This type of creative freedom is something that people should have access to, but not everyone always does. Alexander has also done extensive work with the Kamloops Outreach Program, which brings art into various social sectors as an introduction to art therapy and how creative outlets can further develop emotional exploration and communication.
Alexander is no stranger to how art can empower the individual, and he believes that everyone should have the opportunity to explore how art can empower them. “The thing that changed [me] for the better was art,” Alexander stated in an interview when asked what inspired him to create the grant. “I’m not really good with people, or communication, but art can account for my passion over my fear.”
This ideology is also important in regards for people with indigenous backgrounds. Historically, indigenous people have utilized their creative outlets within their everyday tasks. In today’s day and age, a lot of those practices have been set to the side to better fit into the fast-paced western society. Traditions and cultures are just beginning to re-establish in this modern-era, and Mike Alexander recognizes that and encourages that growth.
Alexander is also determined to raise the indigenous arts community out of its complaisance. He has experienced how the indigenous arts community in Kamloops is reserved and hesitant, but he has also seen how indigenous artists are not sought after by the local arts community. “It’s important that artists are being appreciated and supported in their community. The indigenous art community in Kamloops seems sort of overlooked.” Alexander knows there are plenty of indigenous artists in the area, but they don’t seem to be in the same spaces that attract the Kamloops art scene.
Finding a way to bring these artists into the Kamloops spotlight was the largest motive for creating this micro-grant. Alexander wants to provide an opportunity for fresh, new indigenous talent to enter the Kamloops art scene. He wants to give them a head start and a helping hand towards creating something stunning. “Indigenous artists aren’t being looked for. They aren’t being appreciated. I want to draw these folks out. Show me what you got!” The ideal applicant would be just starting their career, has shown a great amount of dedication and passion towards their practice, and is eager to build industry skills and professionalism to further their artistic career.
To make this grant possible for emerging artists, Alexander will be donating 5% of the proceeds from his work. The Kamloops Arts Council will manage the applications and will award two micro-grants to successful applicants every year. Terri Hadwin, KAC Executive Director says, “The Board was unanimous in the decision to move ahead with this partnership of an Indigenous Artist Grant, we are thankful that Mike has chosen Kamloops as his home and that he is so committed to the growth of indigenous art presence and the development of indigenous artists skills in our beautiful city. Thank you Mike for working with us to make this grant an available opportunity for emerging artists.”
“I want to see people stoked,” Alexander says, “I want to see that they decide to go big with a project and transform it into something they can really enjoy doing. I know it’s not a lot of money, but I want people to feel for today, it will help turn your dream into a reality.”
Follow the Kamloops Arts Council social media and website for the upcoming grant announcement at kamloopsarts.ca.