Arts and Cultural Organizations Are Critical to Community Health; Rockefeller Foundation Provides Grants to 14 Organizations Addressing Pressing Social Issues
NEW YORK, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The Rockefeller Foundation said today that support for community-based arts and cultural projects, including dance, theater, local art spaces and spiritual gatherings, is critical to fostering the health of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. It announced grants of close to $1 million to 14 community arts and cultural organizations throughout the United States. "Culture and artistic expression serve as a barometer of the quality of people's lives, and an agent for improving them," said Raymund Paredes, director of the Creativity & Culture division at the Rockefeller Foundation. "Arts and cultural organizations, like those that have received grants from us today, play an essential role in preserving vital community traditions, and in helping communities respond to the stresses of poverty, migration, violence and discrimination. They succeed in making significant contributions even with modest resources," Paredes added. Paredes noted an expanding field of research, including work by the Urban Institute that is supported by the Foundation, to capture the neighborhood impact of artists, arts organizations and cultural participation on the social health of communities. Preliminary research by the Urban Institute suggests that arts and cultural initiatives can promote stronger civic engagement in community life, as well as improved relationships and networks among members of a community and greater local leadership and initiative in addressing community problems and concerns. All of the projects that received funding this year, with grants ranging from $20,000 to $150,000, seek to help members of their communities recognize and deal with their own cultural conditions and challenges. For example, the Downtown Community Television Center in New York City will assist disabled individuals develop skills for careers in broadcast media, and help them raise awareness of issues of concern to the disabled community through the production of programming for cable television and the Internet. Appalshop, a community arts organization in Whitesburg, Ky., will work to foster local dialogue and ease existing tensions around the presence of two nearby maximum-security prisons, through an audio and digital portrait of life behind the prisons' walls. The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Calif., is creating a project entitled "Manos de Esperanza" (Hands of Hope) that will support the creative expression and aspirations of Hispanic immigrants through photography, poetry writing, and work in textiles. The grants were made through the Foundation's Partnerships Affirming Community Transformation (PACT) program, a competitive program that makes annual awards to community-based arts and cultural organizations. This year's awardees were selected from communities in ten states, including Alaska, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The PACT program received more than 220 applications this year. About The Foundation The Rockefeller Foundation has been a supporter of the humanities since the 1920s and of the arts since the 1930s. Through its Creativity & Culture division, the Foundation promotes diverse creative expressions in the arts and humanities and seeks to preserve and support the cultural heritage of people in poor and marginalized communities. PACT 2001 Grantees 651 Arts (Brooklyn, N.Y), to address issues of cultural identity and gentrification in four Brooklyn neighborhoods, through a series of community gatherings entitled "Hairparties." Alutiiq Heritage Foundation (Kodiak, Alaska), to encourage youth understanding of local heritage by supporting workshops in mask- and tool-making, led by masters in the ancient arts. Appalshop (Whitesburg, Ky.), to foster community discussion and ease tensions around two nearby maximum-security prisons, through an audio and digital portrait of life behind the prisons' walls. Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena, Calif.) for "Hands of Hope," a project that will foster artistic expression among local Hispanic immigrant communities through textile work, photography and poetry writing. Downtown Community Television Center (New York, N.Y.) to assist disabled people develop skills for careers in the broadcast media and produce programming for cable television and the Internet. Elders Share the Arts (Brooklyn, N.Y.) for "Crossing the Boulevard," a project that will assemble the personal histories and unique perspectives of the multi-ethnic inhabitants of Queens Boulevard and its environs. Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (San Antonio, Texas) to foster community expression and dialogue in a west side neighborhood of the city, led by the renowned mural artist Jesse Trevino. Missouri Historical Society (St. Louis, Mo.) to help instill in young people an appreciation of local African-American history and traditions through an oral history project in five of the city's middle schools. Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates (Philadelphia, Pa.) to provide inner-city youth, who do not have access to arts education, the opportunity to work with artists on mural creation and restoration, and expose them to local museums and galleries. Omaha Theater Company for Young People (Omaha, Neb.) for the "Pride Players Project," that will assist gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers in creating theatrical performances that examine their cultural fears and obstacles. Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (Los Angeles, Calif.) for a project in the Figueroa Corridor, that will foster cultural expression within the local immigrant community, through training in graphic design and poster-making workshops. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.) for the Prison Creative Arts Project, that will assist criminal offenders in the transition to civilian life through mentorships, arts workshops and community exhibitions of their work. Visual Communications (Los Angeles, Calif.) to document the past and present-day lives and struggles of the Asian Pacific American labor movement in Los Angeles, culminating in a digital video documentary. White Earth Reservation (White Earth, Minn.) to foster community discussion and artistic work examining the Anishinaabe Tribe's relationship with wild rice, a sacred grain and icon in their tribal history. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X47546242
SOURCE Rockefeller Foundation
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