The YVR Art Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development and advancement of BC and Yukon First Nations visual art and artists, supporting the vitality and sustainability of First Nations art for artists, their communities, and the people of BC and the Yukon.
First Nations art and artists are supported and thriving in BC and the Yukon.
YVR Art Foundation (YVRAF) is an independent, not-for-profit, charitable organization founded in 1993 by the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to support BC and Yukon First Nations art and artists. YVRAF is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors composed of Indigenous artists and community members, museum, education and visual arts professionals, and other supporters of YVRAF’s work.
The Foundation was originally established to acquire and commission Indigenous artwork for installation at YVR, however, since the mid-2000s, the Foundation has focused on supporting individual BC and Yukon First Nations artists through scholarship, grant and award programs, and exhibition and research opportunities.
The first YVRAF program created for Indigenous artists is the Scholarship Program, established in 2005. Scholarships support emerging and mid-career artists with funding to work with an artist mentor, attend an art school or art training program, or work on a project that is of cultural significance to the community. Scholarship recipients have an opportunity to display their artwork at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and in 2020 YVRAF added a second exhibition opportunity for scholarship recipients through a partnership with the Museum of Vancouver.
Many of the most important and historical examples of BC and Yukon First Nations art and material culture are not found in communities for artists to see, study and be inspired by. Recognizing an urgent need for contemporary Indigenous artists to have access to their ancestors’ works that are held in museum collections around the world, in 2014 YVRAF established a travel grant program – the Bill McLennan Masterpiece Study Program. These grants provide funding for artists to travel to museums worldwide, where they can access and research rare and historical collections of their ancestral belongings.
In 2017 the Foundation established the Aspiring Artist Awards Program, which aims to encourage and support Indigenous youth in exploring their Nation’s material culture. To assist with this program delivery, YVRAF partners with Indigenous-led organizations across BC and the Yukon to self-select youth within their communities to receive the awards.
To date, YVRAF has disbursed more than 216 awards, representing over $805,000 in scholarships, grants and research opportunities for BC and Yukon First Nations artists.
All of YVRAF’s programs for BC and Yukon First Nations artists reflect the Foundation’s overarching goals: to support Indigenous cultural knowledge transfer, access to Indigenous cultural and ancestral belongings, and ultimately historical redress for Indigenous artists and communities.
Learn more about the Vancouver International Airport art collection and award-winning sense of place.
YVR Art Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors composed of Indigenous artists and leaders, community members and other supporters, and the day-to-day operations are led by the Executive Director.