After being closed to the public since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Racing Magpie, an organization that provides creative workspace to Native American artists and is known for their contemporary art exhibits, plans to re-open in a new building on the southside of Rapid City, South Dakota, in the coming months.
While they had previously leased space, Peter Strong, Director and Co-Owner, explains that the purchase of the new property will provide a more permanent foundation for the artist community they serve.
“This purchase provides the ability for the Lakota community to have ownership. It provides a literal foundation to our work where we can be grounded and continue to build on the good work we do,” he says.
As Strong was exploring financing options for the purchase of Racing Magpie’s new space, he questioned, “How do we find partners that won’t look at us just as another account?”
Racing Magpie had partnered with Four Bands Community Fund and Lakota Funds, both non-profit community loan funds, also known as Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs), to deliver programming to Native artists in their respective locations on the Cheyenne River Reservation and the Pine Ridge Reservation. Strong says it just hit him at some point, and he reached out to both lenders, not as a partner this time, but as a potential borrower and received a positive response.
“We’re happy that Peter reached out to us. We thought it was a great opportunity to support them in the growth of their organization,” says Lakota Vogel, Executive Director of Four Bands.
Four Bands and Lakota Funds joined together and customized the participation loan model to finance the purchase of Racing Magpie’s new location. A participation loan is an instrument that allows multiple lenders to share in the funding of a loan and is typically used when the full loan amount exceeds the maximum loan limit of the lenders involved.
“This model demonstrates how Native CDFIs can be nimble and creative to meet the needs of the communities we serve. Our strength is thinking outside of the box and coming up with new solutions to support Native American entrepreneurs,” says Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds.
“It was a perfect way to bring together their [Four Bands’ and Lakota Funds’] desire to support Native artists and our need to finance this purchase. They made it super easy to walk through, and it was really just an amazing partnership,” reflects Strong.
Strong says Racing Magpie is looking forward to the greater stability and flexibility that ownership provides. As organizations with similar missions, Four Bands and Lakota Funds are looking forward to more opportunities where they can collaborate on participation loans.
“I hope more people do this kind of funding in the future. We have to work together to create good systems,” says Strong.