Arts and Cultural Organizations Are Critical to Community Health; Rockefeller Foundation Provides Grants to 14 Organizations Addressing Pressing Social Issues

Jan 15, 2002, 00:00 ET from Rockefeller Foundation

    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
     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
     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.
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SOURCE Rockefeller Foundation