20 Newark Artists Get Financial Boost From Mini-Grant Program

NEWARK, NJ — Nearly two dozen artists in Newark are getting a financial boost courtesy of an annual “mini-grant” program.

Newark Arts has announced the winners of its ArtStart program for the year 2023-24. The program awarded a total of $57,000 to 20 proposals that add to the Brick City’s “thriving arts community,” including music, dance, theater, film, visual arts and literature, organizers said.

The primary goal of the grant program is to “enrich the lives of Newark’s residents and neighborhoods, with a particular focus on youth and underserved populations.”

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“Awarding $57,000 in ArtStart mini grants this year and nearly $600,000 since 2001 is a critical part of Newark Arts’ mission, to amplify and empower the arts in every community throughout the city,” interim executive director Lauren LeBeaux Craig said.

Funding for ArtStart was provided by Prudential Foundation, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, M&T Bank, the Turrell Fund and other supporters.

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This year’s winners included:

Art at the Willows by Nichole (Nikki) Donnell: Art at the Willows will provide art programming. Offerings include paint, poetry, and family movie night curated by local teaching artists followed by stakeholder chats to foster the growing artist community. The Willows and the Ingerman sister locations are one of the first artist preferred housing spaces in Newark NJ. “Art at the Willows” will activate these spaces with artist activity as it builds community within the existing diverse community of Newark.

Arts Always for All III by Ivy Hill Vailsburg Center for Arts Culture and Community Activism: In its eighth year, ACCA Creates continues to provide arts education via its Third Annual one-week Dance Intensive and its six-week Summer Arts Day Camp – one culminating in an Informal Dance Showcase, and the other production will be presented in five locations, including the North and South Wards. Summer Arts includes community activism, creative writing, dance, theater, vocal music, piano in collaboration with Keys2Success, and Cooperative Games supporting positive play among children.

Arts & Entertainment, Fiction & Film Workshop & Masterclasses by Andrea Clinton: With the film studios and other opportunities coming to Newark, we would like to teach Fiction, Film and Theatre Writing, Producing and Acting to residents of Newark. Andrea Clinton is a residency partner with Express Newark and would like to teach these workshops at the Express Newark facility in the Hahne & Co. building and other Rutgers Newark class settings.

Back 2 The Future by Drama With A Twist: Artists take elders and youth “Back 2 the Future” in an intergenerational arts program. Newark students at Elliott Street Elementary School will meet in person with adult seniors living with first- and mid-stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Students and adult seniors will explore theater, art, film and music together. A culmination session invites participants, students, school administration and participating artists to celebrate works created during the program.

Breakin in the Bricks by Newark School of the Arts: The Breakin in the Bricks festival will be a one-day event that will showcase the different elements of hip hop, including music, dance, graffiti, and spoken word. The event will be held in the heart of Newark, NJ, and will be open to the public. The festival will provide a safe and inclusive space for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and celebrate hip hop culture.

Carter Glennon Center for Arts and Nature Summer Music and Arts Camp: Carter Glennon runs a one-week sleep away summer camp that serves Newark youth at a designated New Jersey college campus, typically at Drew University. The program allows students to develop musical instrument skills under the guidance of professional musicians, as they also engage in nature via field trips to hiking trails and arboretums. Students also experience a taste of college life.

Community Arts Crochet Club and Community Service Project by Arts ETC: The Community Arts Crochet Club at Arts High School, now in its second year, has been very successful. This year, the program adds an incentive to motivate students to do community service and provides support to students who conceive of community service projects that will impact their communities.

Community Institute by The Institute of Music for Children: The Institute of Music for Children’s mission is to engage children and youth in artistic expression and the creative process. Guided by its vision of HARMONY (Helping Achieve Responsible, Motiviated, Optimistic, Neighborhood Youth) it is building a community of high-achieving citizens who are arts makers through professional instruction, mentorship, and family engagement. Community Institute is one of the Institute’s core programs, providing multimedia and performing arts residencies in three to five sites in Newark Public Schools.

Dancing with the Blind 2024 #Goinggrowingandglowing by Eyes Like Mine Inc: “DWB” welcomes community members to participate with an initial meet and greet to discuss the layers of participation. It offers scheduled rehearsal time for both sighted and vision impaired to be trained in a group dance routine. DWB schedules photo shoots, video diaries about the dancers’ experience, and provides an opportunity for two communities to unite and build memorable bonds. Participants perform in front of an audience as a winning team!

Digital Media Arts Boot Camp by Keys 2 Success: Keys 2 Success’s Urban Fellowship program employs teens from Newark and other urban areas to perform a wide range of teaching, mentorship, and media tasks. In the summer of 2023, 4 Urban Fellows participated in a Media Arts Bootcamp to learn to record, edit, and distribute video, photo, and audio content online and in media, including coding. They also used these skills to lead a coding course within K2S’s STEAM summer program.

Don’t Touch My Hair by Ayana Morris: “Don’t Touch My Hair” is a blunt statement to America to stop the policing of black hair. Black hair is seen as “unprofessional” but its display seems to spark an ironic curiosity. Some willingly act on this curiosity and commit the faux pax of touching a black woman’s hair. This boldness is why the phrase “don’t touch my hair” is more than a request, it’s a rallying cry.

MW Newark Theater Art Workshops For Academic Success by Mighty Writers: Mighty Writers will implement an eight-week summer camp in Newark located at 59 Lincoln Park. It teaches 50 kids and youth ages 7-15 in various literary art activities during cinema, art and cinema weeks. The program invites the participation of teaching artists and musicians. Students watch and explore movie theories, read poetry, and learn music from expert educators in Newark City.

Our Fathers: Dismantling Stereotypes Surrounding Black Fatherhood in America by I’M SO NEWARK: OUR FATHERS is a feature-length documentary film about the myths and damaging stereotypes about black fatherhood popularized by media, family members, and society. This film examines the ongoing effects of racism and discrimination black men who are fathers face in America today. OUR FATHERS showcases black dads from various economic situations, individual relationships with their children, and the impact of fatherhood in communities of color.

Squash & Shekere: Making Music in the Garden by Where’s Your Tree?: Where’s Your Tree? presents “Squash & Shekere: Making Music in the Garden,” at the Giving One Tenth Community Garden, facilitated by the renowned percussionist-educator Ahmondylla Best. Families can decorate their shekeres from dried gourds and learn about the instrument’s African roots and routes through interactive song-making and performance. Exploring the versatility of squash as a locally grown, nourishing food and musical instrument used by celebrated bands.

Stitch With Love by Rashidah Nelson: Inspiring the beautiful people of Newark to create art built from love, compassion and individuality.

Tappin’ Into Nork by Maurice Chestnut: Maurice Chestnut (Tap Artist and Choreographer) and Armando Diaz (videographer) will select a local business in wards specified above and produce a tap dance short to promote businesses featuring tap students from Newark School of the Arts. Students will showcase the arts in the city of Newark. These clips will celebrate the culture of dance in our city while promoting local businesses. Locations include: Nacho Taco, Ivy Hill Laundromat, Newark Cheesesteak, Deaf’s Delight Cafe.

Through the Eyes of Newark’s Youth: What is a Community? by Boys and Girls Club of Newark: At BGCN, we believe the connection between social justice, community public health issues, and the arts are important. Racial inequality, income inequity, and the opioid crisis are just three of the social and public health issues that some Newark communities face, and impact the youth growing up here. This project, Through the Eyes of Newark’s Youth: What is a Community?, will allow youth to self express and show the world their freedom to be themselves.

Triumph Mural by Brenda Echeverry: The project consists of the installation of an outdoor mural at Triumph the Church of the New Age’s location in Newark. The mural is meant to beautify the site and increase community engagement at the center.

Wynona Lipman Project: Blue Butterfly Arts and Media is embarking on its second documentary, this one on Sen. Wynona Lipman (1923-1999), NJ’s first African American woman senator. Her foray into politics led her to becoming the Director of the Essex County Board of Freeholders (now Commissioners), before being elected to the State Senate in 1971 (29th District). She was succeeded by Mayor Sharpe James and currently Sen. Teresa Ruiz serves in her seat.

505 Block Party (Dancing in the Street) by Kimberllyn “Olive” Xavier Oliveira: The 505 Block Party serves to unite the neighborhood surrounding The Gant Gilbert Arts Collective building and South Ward as a whole. It hosted a day of camaraderie with fellow Newarkers on September 2, 2023, from 1-6PM at 505 Clinton Ave. There were activities to delight folks of all ages including a beginner’s yoga class, a seed planting workshop, and a collective canvas for all to paint on.

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