The Walton Personal Philanthropy Group at the Walton Family Foundation has given the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum a generous grant, to fund the development of a Designer Residency Pilot Program for the Northwest Arkansas community. This grant is dedicated to supporting the development of a Nationally Recognized Designer Residency Program with the goal of creating a program that attracts outside talent with name recognition and industry credentials to NWA to work, train, and grow the existing local designer base and integrate with the NWA design community. This funding has given the organization the capital to begin seeking industry experts and established working designers to the area (either in person or virtually) to grow the skills of the existing local talent, fostering greater levels of creative production, sharing industry knowledge, best practices, and cutting edge aesthetics.
The program will be titled EMERGE | A Designer Residency Program: Identifying, Incubating, and Promoting New Talent in Fashion. The program itself will embody three levels of involvement including industry professionals defined as ‘Visiting Mentors’, working designers defined as ‘Designers in Residence’, and our current network of local designers defined as ‘Designer Cohort’. Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership will work to recruit three to four nationally-recognized industry professionals to commit to a certain number of virtual class sessions determined by AAFF. Visiting Mentors will work with current AAFF Cohort Designers to lead virtual workshops, host talks open to the public, and help strategize with AAFF leadership on the growth of the fashion industry in NWA. Visiting Mentors will also closely mentor the Designers in Residence in one-on-one virtual sessions.
AAFF strives to develop programming that is relevant and provides educational opportunities and professional support for aspiring designers, artists, and other creative professionals who are committed to building a vibrant and inspired creative fashion community in Arkansas.