Sixteen local art projects awarded grants to help New Haven heal from pandemic and institutional racism
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven recently unveiled a new grant program with more than half a million dollars to support artists working for racial justice.
On September 13, the Foundation’s Race Equity and Creative Healing Program awarded 16 local art projects a total of $ 583,000 in grants. Selected projects include mural productions, a cultural dance class, a series of healing retreats for black men, and a hip-hop radio platform. In partnership with the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, REACH has prioritized projects aimed at helping the community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and rekindle conversations about racism. The organization will provide two years of funding for each project.
“As other nonprofits started to recover, ours was still being left out… so we wanted to recognize a way we could support artists in their recovery from COVID,” said Jackie Downing, director of the ‘granting and non-profit support. “Additionally, we saw the opportunity for artists to be the engine… to have conversations and understand racial equity and healing.”
While the Community Foundation provided the funding, the Arts Council managed the selection process. The council aimed to represent artists in the community in an inclusive manner by allowing individual artists to apply. According to Daniel Fitzmaurice, executive director of the Arts Council, this process departs from traditional grant selection methods, which focus on awarding dollars to established groups.
He also explained that the board has tried to make the app as accessible as possible.
“We made sure everything was translated into English and Spanish… the advisory team really looked and made sure we reached different parts of the region,” said Fitzmaurice. “We [were] using Google forms, which are very simple, quite accessible to people. We have also [provided] people with a PDF document and a Word document of the same.
A grant recipient was Podcast # YourTeam, which is hosted by four friends who are all women of color. According to co-host Rebekah Moore, the podcast is a platform for people to share their perspectives on important issues while maintaining a friendly environment. #ThaTeam will use its $ 44,000 REACH grant to fund a 10-month training program for young people in the community interested in podcasting. The program will culminate when attendees host podcasts every two weeks and travel to New York City to experience larger delivery systems.
Denise Page, founder of the Ubuntu Storytellers program, also received $ 44,000 in grants. Page explained that Ubuntu Storytellers runs workshops on anti-racism, social equity and diversity, with members of the African diaspora opening each workshop with personal stories. In addition, the program sometimes hosts storytelling concerts for black and brown artists. According to Page, funding from REACH enables Ubuntu storytellers to implement goals they have long had.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this show without this grant… [it] allows me to guarantee that the cashiers will be paid, and by selling tickets I might be able to cover my costs, ”Page said. “And it also gives me the opportunity to offer [the program] to potential customers, because the workshops are really my goal.
Another REACH project is the Black Haven Film Festival, which hosted its second annual festival on September 18. Black Haven executive director Salwa Abdussabur said the festival is the first of its kind in New Haven. Abdussabur added that the event is a space for local black creators to tell their stories, helping to dismantle institutional racism in the arts. While the festival was held virtually this year, Black Haven plans to make its mission come true next year with an in-person event, thanks to its REACH grant of $ 44,000.
“I was very grateful to the community and artistic leaders who supported us to make this happen, as we need a radical redistribution of wealth so that cultural creators can continue to create relevant art,” Abdussabur said.
Ubuntu Storytellers will be hosting a virtual storytelling event called “Discovery” on October 9th.