Forty-one artists and nine arts organizations received grants from NoMAA totaling $70,000, which was awarded during a ceremony held Mon., Jan. 31 at the Cornerstone Center on Bennett Avenue. PHOTO: Christopher Auger-Dominguez
The same week that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced deep cuts to the state budget, 41 local artists and nine arts organizations received checks totaling $70,000 to help them continue their artistic endeavors over the next year.
The money is part of the annual grant cycle overseen by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), which in four years has given a total of $238,000 to Washington Heights and Inwood-based individuals and groups. NoMAA is largely funded through the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) and was incubated by the Hispanic Federation.
While arts and cultural programs are being cut in belt-tightening efforts at every government level, the modest grants – provided by JPMorgan Chase Foundation – are aimed at nurturing Northern Manhattan’s arts community.
This year’s grantees (of which I was one) were chosen from 115 applicants, selected by panels of experts in various arts professions. Individual artists were picked based on artistic excellence, originality, feasibility, and intended outcome. One of the most important criteria they were evaluated on was how the projects would benefit their career and community.
The grants fund the completion of arts projects, many of which will occur in Washington Heights and Inwood, that enrich our community. The list of projects this diverse group of artists is creating (see below) is filled with new and imaginative ways of engaging with Northern Manhattan.
But the money is also a stimulus to the local economy.
Some artists use the funding to buy raw materials then sell their finished artwork for hundreds or thousands of dollars. The artwork is often exhibited or performed in local businesses, helping to drive foot traffic to restaurants and other social hubs. Some of the performances charge for tickets, helping theater and dance companies stay in business. Artists also use the NoMAA funding to leverage other funding sources.
As the grantees are all local artists, when they get money in their pockets, they typically spend it locally.
In the case of The People’s Theatre Project, their acknowledgment last year as a NoMAA grantee helped them earn a Union Square Award, including a $35,000 grant to bring bilingual theatre programs to adults, seniors, teens, and children in Northern Manhattan.
In the end, none of the artists will be able to live off their grant for long. But for many it will help them create one more project, and serve as the kindling needed to stoke our fragile arts industry, a small but growing portion of Northern Manhattan’s economy.
2011 NoMAA Grantees and Project Descriptions
Dina Piera Di Donato Salazar
Completion and editing of a book of short stories: “La sortija de Emilia Ibarra”
Development of the Web series “In the Wood”
Christine Toy Johnson
Creation and performance of “Confronting my Ancestor”
Completing the publication of a collection of 21 poems and translations for “The Accidental Observer”
Completion of the first draft of the novel “The Sky in Ohio”
Creation and development of “Harvest Play”
Creation and publication of compiled fragments for “The Portable Open Epic”
Performing / Media Arts
Completion of collaborative visual and aural project “Field of Voices”
Creation of interactive new media project “INSULARIS”
Completion of dance performance “Dali Aqui”
Completion of a contemporary dance theater piece “Comparsa G”
Completion of a concert series for “Groovin at RING”
Creation of a composition for “New Concert Work: Bruce’s Garden”
Creation of the choreography of a flamenco performance for “Dos Caras de la Misma Flamenca”
Completion of the short film “A Time to Speak”
Completion of a CD recording for “Rumba Tap”
Completion of an original dance production for “Outlanders”
Development of musical series “MONO”
Development of a new original work for the stage: “The Jan Hus Homeless Theatre Troupe”
Completion of the film “Jayden”
Creation of a series of bronze sculptures for “Portrait Sculptures of Holocaust Survivors in Washington Heights”
Aurelio Del Muro
Completion of illustrations and printing for “Book Illustration/Printing Project”
Creation of 10 prints for “Changes”
Creation of a series of seven paintings for “Hay Que Soñar Con Las Manos”
Creation of a series of photographic portraits of 15 visual artists in “Northern Manhattan as Muse”
Creation of a series of mixed-media works for “Used/Reused”
Creation of a series of 10 ceramic sculptures for “Within Inwood”
Creation of an installation for “Derramamientos”
Creation of a series of 12 paintings for “Illuminated Abstraction: Generation I”
Creation of an edition of jewelry for “Jewels”
Creation of a series of photographs for project “You Are What You Eat”
Creation of a series of 10 silkscreen prints for “New York Heroes”
Completion of an artist book featuring a series of 40 new drawings for project “High Art, Low Tide”
Creation of an artist book for “The Trees of Cooper Street”
Rojelio Reyes Rodriguez
Completion of photo documentary “The Navajo Nation”
Creation of sculpture, video, performance, and drawing for “In the Flesh”
Creation of a series of paintings for “The Uncertainty Principle”
Creation of a series of six paintings for “Hudson River Greenway Landscapes”
Creation of ten etchings for “Scenes from the Bible (Old Testament)”
Enrico Miguel Thomas
Creation of a series of drawings for “Architectural Drawings of New York City”
Creation of a series of photographs for “Basement Sanctuaries”
Arts & Cultural Organizations
Concerts In The Heights
Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company
Development, marketing, technology
Moose Hall Theatre Company
Fund and staff development
New York Scandia Symphony
People's Theatre Project
Teatro Las Tablas
Fund development and marketing
The Jazz Drama Program
Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble
Financial and strategic planning