peoples do not look for salvation from worlds beyond. . .The greatest
of spiritual mysteries may be revealed just beyond the front door, in
the life of a community.”
― Israel Morrow
As a member of the ATA community, you help support Andean textile traditions through cultural preservation, education, and economic development. Over the years, our donors have helped Andean artisans to revive ancient textile techniques, helped provide business education for Andean weavers, helped build weaving centers, and even provided holiday joy for elders and children through Chocolatadas. But have you ever wondered how the ATA board allocates and manages your donations? Well, the answer lies in our mission statement: “Supporting the people of the Andes in their efforts to preserve and revitalize their textile traditions.”
First and foremost, ATA exists to support Andean communities in their efforts to save their own traditions. They set their own course. ATA supports and collaborates when asked. Each fall, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and, recently, other Andean artisan organizations send grant proposals to ATA. Grant requests specify what textile traditions are involved (doubleweaving, scaffold weaving, looping, etc.), how many weavers will benefit from the program, and how the new effort will be sustained in the future so that techniques are not learned and then lost again. The grant proposals also break down program costs in detail, and they show how much money is being requested from ATA versus how much money the requesting organizations will contribute themselves.
Months before our annual meeting in spring, the ATA grant review committee receives proposals and reviews them for logistics, resources, costs, and how the efforts align with our mission.. Questions and suggestions are compiled and sent back to the submitters. During our annual spring board meeting, the grant review committee presents a summary of the proposals to the ATA board, along with recommendations. At that time, the ATA board votes which programs to fund.
Second, ATA-supported programs must involve traditional textiles. For example, some of the Andean knitters are now making pretty alpaca wrist-warmers that are popular with tourists. They’re a great product for the artisans to sell, but ATA doesn’t grant money to teach the technique because they’re not a traditional textile. However, ATA would fund research to develop products such as the CTTC’s newly recreated pile hats from the ancient Huari civilization.
Last, but critically important, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, ATA is responsible to the U.S. government and to our donors to ensure that donated funds are spent for the intended purposes. So, grants are made for a year at a time, unless the program is a multi-year one. At the end of each year, the organization receiving each grant prepares a detailed report of program impact and accomplishments plus the projected and actual costs. The ATA board reviews the reports before making grants for the following year.
As with most non-profits, we also receive earmarked donations. For example, many people have donated to our COVID relief campaign. When we receive earmarked funds, we make sure they are donated directly to the specified program(s).
As an ATA donor, you want to know you’re supporting lasting change, building a vibrant future for Andean artisans and their traditions. The ATA board and everyone in our 100 percent volunteer organization wants the same. So, stay tuned to future newsletters (and soon an annual report!) to see the exciting things being accomplished through your generosity. You truly are paving the way to a better tomorrow.
Lead photo: The workspace at the ATA 2020 board meeting, where we review grant proposals. Photo by Stefanie Berganini.
Anita Osterhaug is former editor of Handwoven magazine and the Vice President of Andean Textile Arts. She is a writer and journalist who has been devoted to textiles since her first embroidery project at age eight, though her writing skills have also taken her into the high-tech world. She studied history and anthropology at Reed College, and participated in the 2013 Tinkuy international weaving conference in Cusco.