INTERFORM receives a grant to fund three years of programming and operations to provide support and visibility for the local arts community.

(Springdale, Ark.) 04/04 — INTERFORM is excited to announce it is the recipient of a grant from the Walton Family Foundation that will allow the organization to deepen and expand its community based programs dedicated to the pillars Learn, Make and Show. The next three years of INTERFORM’s programmatic vision directly pursue a self-sustaining design-led fashion and art industry in Northwest Arkansas. With funding support from this grant, INTERFORM will continue to build robust programs to directly support that vision through workforce development, creative and educational programming, and community-favorite events such as NWA Fashion Week. 

What’s next: This grant will help to fund familiar programming such as INTERFORM’s beginner through advanced sewing courses, teen sewing bootcamp, EMERGE designer residency program, ASSEMBLY curatorial training program and regional arts and fashion exhibitions, the INTERFORM podcast, and of course, NWA Fashion Week. Since rebranding from Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum in early 2021 INTERFORM has hosted over 50 public and community based programs that have had a regional engagement of more than 5000 community members and national visibility to over 73 million viewers. 

The grant: The Walton Family Foundation has awarded INTERFORM a $2.2 million grant to support three years of programming and operations through the spring of 2025. 

This three year grant makes special provisions to ensure that INTERFORM continues to pursue professional development and continues the organization’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts. “We are incredibly thankful for this grant. It provides not only stability for our organization for the next three years but also signals the importance of pursuing visibility and support for the underserved and underrepresented communities in our region,” said Robin Atkinson, CEO of INTERFORM. 

INTERFORM has grown significantly since 2020, going from a staff of three to a staff of 8 full time and 4 part time staff. The organization currently has two offices in Downtown Springdale and will be adding a third later this year. The organization’s mission is centered on three main pillars: –

  • Learn headed by Basana Chhetri, Senior Director of Fashion Design & Apparel Education, focused on continuing the beginner, intermediate, and advanced sewing courses for Marshallese and Congolese students, 25 of whom showed their first collections during NWA Fashion Week Spring 2022. This year they are also adding courses on clothing design centered on Island Style dress making and fashion accessories including bags, hats, and belts.
  • Make headed by Richard Cotto, Sr Director of Small Batch and Production, focused on building a financially viable model for apparel production in Arkansas. 
  • Show headed by CEO Robin Atkinson with team support of Cedric Fonville, Chief of Staff and James Whalen, Director of Operations, focused on large scale community based public programs such as NWA Fashion Week and Assembly, a months long art and fashion showcase returning in summer 2023. 

The grant comes on the heels of INTERFORM’s most successful NWA Fashion Week ever, with over 1,200 attendees, over 50 designers, 194 models, and $200,000 raised to further support INTERFORM’s strategic goals. 

This grant is the largest in the organization’s history and signals an exciting new chapter. INTERFORM looks forward to the next three years of community focused and ambitious programming and is excited for what is to come. Upcoming INTERFORM events to look forward to this year include:

  • A runway show as part of the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas (HWOA) Annual Cinco de Mayo Festival on May 7th
  • A second edition of the summer teen sewing bootcamp teaching the fundamentals of apparel design, fashion illustration, pattern making, and sewing. Sign-ups will be available on the website soon!
  • The launch of Seasons 4 and 5 of the Emerge Designer Residency in May
  • A partnership on a Juneteenth music showcase in collaboration with Music Moves
  • A series of Emerge designer runway showcases this fall in collaboration with Crystal Bridges

“We are incredibly thankful for this grant. It provides not only stability for our organization for the next three years but also signals the importance of pursuing visibility and support for the underserved and underrepresented communities in our region,” - Robin Atkinson, CEO of INTERFORM

About INTERFORM: INTERFORM is a 501c3 Non-profit organization at the forefront of creative growth and change in the community. INTERFORM envisions a self-sustaining design-led fashion and art industry in Northwest Arkansas and builds robust programs to directly support that vision. The organization fosters greater levels of creativity and provides the right education and resources needed to grow local designers and artists. INTERFORM uplifts and centers the creative works of those who are underrepresented and uses their platform to encourage others to do the same. INTERFORM is here to propel creatives forward and aid in their professional journey.