New Master of Fine Arts in Cultural Administration Announced

Mar 7, 2022

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is excited to announce a new Master in Fine Arts (MFA) program—MFA in Cultural Administration. This new MFA in Cultural Administration, referred to as MFACA, is the first of its kind focusing on Indigenous Arts and Cultures not only nationally, but internationally. MFACA offers two uniquely distinct tracks, one with an emphasis on Tribal Museum and Cultural Center Administration, and the other track is based in Arts Administration. The two-year low-residency program, geared toward postgraduate Indigenous professionals in leadership positions in museums and arts and cultural organizations, is for those who believe leadership should be driven and guided by community engagement and involvement. The teachings of the MFACA program are founded on the respect and reverence of Indigenous community-based traditions and the support of community-led growth and preservation of Indigenous culture, art, language, history, and governance.

The MFACA was recently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Requirements and more information about the program forthcoming. Deadline to apply is Friday, April 1, at 5 pm.

“This new program builds upon strengths already known by traditional Indigenous ways of knowing, and our world-renown Museum Studies undergraduate program, and it will train students to listen to the voice of the community, which will in turn support community and foster leadership. Our museum studies courses provide Indigenous representation in museums, cultural centers, and now with the MFA in Cultural Administration, next-level representation through leadership roles. MFACA brings Indigenous values to the forefront.

Dr. Jessie Ryker-Crawford, an IAIA alum, professor, and former chair of the Museum Studies Department, took the lead in designing the program and is the ideal person to serve as our Interim Director. I look forward to supporting her visionary leadership in successfully launching IAIA’s new graduate program.”

Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee)

IAIA President

MFACA is now IAIA’s third Master of Fine Arts program which dovetails, with the other two, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFACW), and Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts (MFASA). Focused upon social equity and the support of cultural community growth, MFACA integrates administrative tools and techniques with socially engaged leadership through the blending of organization skills and community outreach programming.

The new program recognizes that an in-depth knowledge of cultural heritage sustainability and active community engagement practices are critical requirements for successful cultural-based institution administrators to possess. Comprised of online coursework, summer residencies, and an Indigenous community-driven thesis project in which the student practices collaborative models of leadership and community support, MFACA is a new and definitively unique program unlike any other program elsewhere.

“Since our inception, 60 years ago, we have always had museum studies courses in our curriculum. We prioritize training our Indigenous students to be good stewards of cultural knowledge with an Indigenous perspective. It’s always been a hope, for six decades now, that we provide not only the undergraduate program but also a graduate-level program geared more toward leadership, that program is now realized.”
Felipe J. Estudillo Colón (Laguna Pueblo)

Academic Dean

According to the 2017 US Consensus Bureau findings, 19.7 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, 25 and older, hold a bachelor’s or higher degree. Comparing this with the national average of 30.9 percent, and the fact that Indigenous students are four times more likely to obtain a degree when attending a Tribal College or University, this highlights the need for IAIA to offer graduate-level degrees mainly focused on administrative competencies.

“Learning how to be a leader by interacting with one’s community members and listening carefully to the community’s needs—culturally and economically—will help support Indigenous communities with grassroots-based projects. We’ve been doing this in IAIA’s museum studies program for decades. This new graduate-level program provides the tools for leadership, but with something no other program can offer elsewhere—an Indigenous perspective.”
Dr. Jessie Ryker-Crawford (White Earth Chippewa)

Interim Director of the MFA in Cultural Administration

About the Arts Administration Emphasis

Arts Administration is a field that facilitates art programming within cultural organizations and communities. With the continuing need for tribal communities to support their artists financially and publicly, a culturally centered degree allows students to enter the arts administration field. The program is geared towards aiding tribal communities in their impetus to support and advance both their traditional and contemporary Indigenous art genres—acting as a continuum of Indigenous culture.

About the Tribal Museum and Cultural Center Administration Emphasis

Across the globe, culturally based museums and cultural centers are becoming extremely popular as audiences seek to understand and appreciate diverse cultures. And in the current political environment, an awareness of the rich fabric of humanity needs to be offered to a wide array of people. Tribal museums and cultural centers act as a robust support system for cultural heritage and as a grounding space for cultural events, community meeting places, and places of education for all age ranges.

About the MFACA Curriculum

The MFA in Cultural Administration Program curriculum is focused upon the respect of community-based traditions and the support of community-led growth and preservation of language, art, history, and policies. We fully support students seeking administrative skills involving both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. We require students to have leadership qualities, the ability to integrate multi-perspective ideas and visions into positive action, projects, policies, and procedures, and for students to allow communities to make their own decisions for cultural support systems.

President’s Convocation in the Dance Circle, Thursday, August 30, 2018