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The business of art is the focus of a workshop for Native Americans in Rapid City.

The course is designed to help artists maximize their earning potential by teaching them crucial business skills, said Logan Anderson, program manager for Nonprofit Partnerships at The First Peoples Fund.

"The main topics we cover are how artists can market themselves, the way to develop a business plan, how to set a budget for their art and how to price their work," Anderson said.

The First Peoples Fund and the United Tribes Technical College Black Hills Learning Center are offering the free, two-day professional development training course from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Thursday at 321 Kansas City St.

Jeremy Staab, an artist and member of the Santi Sioux Tribe from Lawrence, Kan., said most artists have trouble gauging how much their art is actually worth.

"That's a common theme in these trainings," he said. "A lot of artists are really humble, and they do not put the price on their time that they should."

Guss Yellow Hair of Pine Ridge said he was a self-taught artist who didn't know anything about how to make money from his work when he decided to take the course.

"This course showed me how to set goals, what steps I needed to take and what goals I wanted to achieve and how to turn it into a career," he said.

Yellow Hair, who now makes a decent income from his artwork, will be teaching classes with Anderson as the voice of the artist.

Whether they are emerging artists who sell artwork as a hobby or artists who have an established client base, the course can help them take the next step in their career, Anderson said.

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Eventually, the First Peoples Fund wants to show how artists can play a key role in an area's economic development. 

Anderson said that they want to show people and organizations within the tribal communities that they shouldn't leave out the arts.

"The artists are as important in these tribal communities as any other business and they can generate income, they can change the economy, they can bring tourists to the community and they can keep the money on the reservations." 

The course is open to anyone but is primarily geared toward Native Americans, especially from the Pine Ridge area as it integrates Lakota values into the coursework.

United Tribes Technical College currently offers an Art Entrepreneurship certificate. Artists who attend the training can get one academic credit toward the certificate program.

The class is a pre-cursor to The Gathering of People, Wind and Water event on Friday and Saturday. The Native arts market and cultural celebration will be held at Main Street Square in downtown Rapid City.

Contact Scott Feldman at 394-8337 or scott.feldman@rapidcityjournal.com

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