Vera Sheehan, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, South Burlington, VT: 2023 Rising Star Winner
“CWE helped me to be a better leader for our organization. I have been able to share what I learned with our network of artists and recommend they consider CWE classes as well.” - Vera Sheehan
What inspired Vera’s Business?
The Indian Arts and Crafts Law of 1990 requires that artists need to be citizens of a state or federally recognized tribes. For four Abenaki tribes, it had been illegal for them to sell their artwork as Native American made art in the State of Vermont until they were officially recognized. This inspired Vera to help promote awareness of state-recognized Abenaki artists and their art with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. After recognition was codified into Vermont law, VAAA artists could legally sell their art as “Native American made.”
Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) is a Native American arts organization that was created to promote Abenaki art, history, and to connect the public to Abenaki educators, artists from the visual and performing arts as well as literary genres. Their mission is to promote awareness of state-recognized Abenaki artists and their art, to provide an organized central place to share creative ideas, and to have a method for the public to find and engage state recognized Abenaki artists. They do this by presenting public programs, cultural events, and museum exhibitions that educate the public in understanding Abenaki art and culture.
Vera and the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association have experienced several noteworthy successes lately including new partnerships, the “Nebizun: Water is Life” traveling museum expedition, fine art shows, and have also been able to provide professional development for community members. She is also proud to announce they will also be offering a new virtual lecture series.
How Has CWE Helped Her in Her Journey?
Vera first became familiar with CWE through several, one-hour professional development sessions on Zoom. She then applied for the 13-week Power Forward Strategic Growth Planning Course where she learned more about brand development, supply chain, and distribution channel management. She attributes some of her latest successes to what she learned in this course including her new partnerships, fine art show events, and brand new traveling museum exhibition.
The knowledge Vera gained through her sessions and courses helped propel her into becoming a better leader for her organization and she was able to transition into a full-time leadership role and employ several part-time staff. Vera was able to share her knowledge with her entire network of artists and has recommended they consider CWE classes and consultations as well.
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