Photo: Hmong story cloth - Credit: Amber Dodge
Sustainable models are a few examples of groups of artisans that are not necessarily composed of resettled refugees and immigrants. However, these groups have existed for at least a decade and have found creative solutions to overcome challenges they have encountered. Therefore, their successful best practices can serve as examples to other newcomer arts collectives.
Based on my research and interviews, here are common themes and best practices that I have identified that make these groups sustainable:
- Group members hold positions of leadership and decision-making authority.
- They are realistic about their activities and goals. They are focused on their mission and don't try to do more than they can support and handle.
- They continuously engage with the broader community through celebrations, demonstrations, hands-on classes, sales events, and more.
- They include a teaching component in their activities to share their knowledge with youth and the broader community.
- They seek diversified sources of funding and support and have found ways to generate income from their activities.
- Members of the group's own ethnic community support their activities through donations of money, time, and in-kind assistance.
- When they encounter challenges, these groups find creative solutions to problems and regularly reevaluate their programs to make sure that they are effective.