Film, television, media and the overall creative economy continues to lack representation from the Native American community. About one-third of Native Americans live below the poverty line, more than any other demographic group in the U.S., and the arts are an important path out of poverty for many. For self-employed artists and people who work in household enterprises, geographic isolation and lack of business experience are the biggest obstacles.
The Barcid Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed by Native Americans in the arts, is closing this gap by providing arts education and industry events aimed at providing professional and creative development. Barcid was founded in 2004 to offer educational opportunities to Native American communities through multimedia and technology-based programs. One of the strongest examples of this disparity is found within Native American writers. This demographic is historically the lowest number represented in film and television. According to the Writers Guild of America, Native American/Indigenous/First Nations people account for 2.9% of the population, but got less than 1% of the film and TV writing jobs in 2020. Since then, Barcid has supported numerous Native Americans more than doubling the number of indigenous representation in the Writers Guild of America.
The Barcid Foundation accomplished this through several endeavors that tackle this issue including the Native American Media Alliance and the LA Skins Fest. The Native American Media Alliance provides an array of creative and professional development programs that offer genuine opportunities for Native American artists. A year round writers program for adults boasts numerous success stories from emerging, mid-level and advanced career labs, workshops and events. Additional initiatives include an animation lab for animation artists and an unscripted workshop for Native American documentarians. Barcid will continue to provide pertinent programs where Native American representation is lacking and move into specialized crafts that include cinematography, visual effects and more.
The Los Angeles Skins Festival (LA SKINS FEST) is the largest Native American film festival in the United States. Housed at the Chinese Theater, the festival showcases over 70 Native American movies, documentaries, short films and more. The week-long festival also hosts events for writers and actors as well as a youth film workshop and the Hollywood Pow Wow. The festival takes place in Los Angeles during the city’s celebration of Native American Heritage Month every November.
The Native American Youth Media and Tech Workshop was founded in 2009 to provide new educational and vocational opportunities for future indigenous leaders. The workshop collaborates with tribes, indigenous communities and urban centers to produce short films with their youth that addresses local issues. The youth are trained to perform all the duties of each production and present it to their community. Each workshop provides artistic, educational and vocational training for the student participants. Each year, we expand the program and have incorporated 3-D Animation, Virtual Reality and 360 video production into the workshop curriculum.
The Barcid Foundation was founded to foster understanding of the culture, traditions and issues of contemporary Native Americans. The Barcid Foundation’s goal is to use media as a tool for cultural, educational, technological and economic development.