Worcester Arts Council Awards Over $219,000 in Grants for Local Arts and Cultural Programs in 2021

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WORCESTER, MA March 4, 2021 – The Worcester Arts Council is proud to announce the award of 65 grants totaling $219,100 for arts and cultural programs in Worcester in 2021.

The Worcester Arts Council (WAC) is part of a statewide network of 329 Local Cultural Councils serving all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. The Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation, supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences on an annual basis. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Mass Cultural Council (MCC), a state agency, which then allocates funds to each community. Decisions about which projects and programs to support are made at the community level by a board of municipally appointed volunteers.

This year, WAC received $166,700 in funding from the MCC, an increase of 6% in funding over last year. WAC also received an additional $10,000 for its Fellowship funding this year, thanks to the generous support of Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s Creative Worcester Initiative, which is funded in part by the Barr Foundation.

“Reflecting on this year’s grant cycle, there were numerous uncertainties and unpredictable delays due to COVID-19, but we remained hopeful. The Worcester Arts Council is thrilled that we were ultimately able to offer more grant funding in 2021 than ever before. With the support of the Mass Cultural Council and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, WAC grant funds will benefit 65 local artists, individuals, organizations, and projects in Worcester this year,” said Yasmin Goris, outgoing Worcester Arts Council Chair.

2021 WAC project grants support a diverse range of programs and organizations in Worcester. The complete list of grant recipients and amounts can be found below.

WAC was also able to distribute more Fellowship grants than ever before to local artists in a variety of disciplines – musicians, comedians, visual artists, writers, and more. This includes two $5,000 Fellowship grants to filmmaker Angélique Webster and comedian Shaun Connolly, and four $2,500 Fellowship Grants to visual artist Vanessa Calixto, filmmaker Fernando Ponce, musician Tracy Ann Jones (Sunta Africa), and visual artist Ryan Gardell. The Council also issued seven $1,000 Fellowship Finalist awards.

Between January and February 2021, WAC reviewed 105 grant applications for projects ranging from public art and murals to theater workshops to podcasts to cultural festivals to historical programming. The Council takes various criteria into consideration including quality, public benefit, and alignment with its 2021 funding priorities as determined by community input through its Funding Priorities Survey. This year’s funding priorities included:

  1. Project Categories – Projects that focus on Public Art, Arts Education & Instruction, Children’s Programs and Musical Performances.
  2. Cultural Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – Projects that elevate the voices and experiences of historically marginalized groups to highlight the current and historical diversity of Worcester. Projects should create opportunities for artists and community members who identify as Black, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQX, refugee, immigrant, or person living with a disability.
  3. Locations – Projects that take place in or benefit areas of Worcester that are historically underserved.

Statewide, more than $4.35 million will be distributed by local cultural councils in 2021. Grants will support an extensive range of grass-roots activities: concerts, exhibitions, radio and video productions, field trips for school children, after-school youth programs, writing workshops, historical preservation efforts, lectures, nature and science education programs for families, and town festivals. Nearly half of LCC funds support educational activities for young people.

“Having the opportunity to be part of an organization that supports artists, individuals, and organizations who dedicate their life’s work to providing arts and cultural programming and building community here in Worcester is an exceptional privilege,” said Goris. “I look forward to the wonderful work the Worcester Arts Council will continue to do, and I encourage the Worcester community to continue supporting local artists by attending events and promoting one another in 2021 and beyond.”

WAC intends to host a virtual grant reception celebrating all of this year’s grant recipients in spring 2021. The Worcester Arts Council will seek applications again in Fall 2021 for the grant year 2022. Applications and more information about the Local Cultural Council Program are available at www.mass-culture.org. Application details will be announced on www.worcesterma.gov.

The 2021 Worcester Arts Council grant recipients and amounts are as follows, and can be found online at WorcesterMA.gov:

Worcester Arts Council 2021 Grant Recipients

APPLICANTPROJECT TITLE TOTAL AMOUNT AWARDED 
Aimee KewleyTheater Collaboration with Burncoat HS Drama $500.00
Aldrich Astronomical Society, Inc.Hubble Space Telescope: 30 Years of Amazing Discoveries! $250.00
Andrew McShaneDowntown Worcester Storefront Activation/Murals $5,000.00
Angélique WebsterFellowship $5,000.00
Art In The Park, WorcesterINNERVISIONS: THINGS AREN’T WHAT THEY USE TO BE $5,000.00
Arts Transcending Borders at the College of the Holy CrossSounds of Community with Cyro Baptista and Banquet of Spirits $5,000.00
ArtsWorcesterGen Zoomers $5,000.00
Barbara GuertinPhotograph 51 $4,250.00
Boys & Girls Club of WorcesterKids for Social Justice Mural $5,000.00
Brooklyn FloresStorywalk $1,650.00
Building Futures, Inc.BFI’s Summer Music Program $3,200.00
Creative HubCreative Hub Aurora Gallery $5,000.00
Crocodile River MusicWorcester’s Got African Talent Digital Edition $5,000.00
Cyrille Vincent Ndomakette SambaWorcester Whirlwind $5,000.00
Danielle BrooksFellowship $1,000.00
Edward Street Child Services“Spring is Busting Out All Over” Children’s Art Show $2,200.00
Eric L’EsperanceThe Living Room Listening Room Concert Series $3,080.00
Eve RifkahGather in Poems: a Virtual Reading $1,000.00
Ferdinand NazarioFellowship $1,000.00
Ferlay Jean-BaptisteFellowship $1,000.00
Fernando PonceFellowship $2,500.00
Girls Inc. of WorcesterCultural Enrichment for Girls K-12 $3,500.00
Grace SliwoskiYouthGROW POW WOW Mural $5,000.00
Green Hill Neighborhood AssociationLincoln Street Crosswalk Art $4,575.00
Historic Crown Hill Neighborhood AssociationHouse Flags on Crown Hill $3,905.00
Jacob Folsom-FrasterWorcester Community Skateshop: DIY Paint-n-Skate Kit $2,250.00
Jennessa BurksAcrylic Art Mentorship Program $2,100.00
Joshua CrokeThreads: LGBTQ+ Youth Fashion Design Class & Youth Designer in Residency Program $3,800.00
Kimberly ToneyFellowship $1,000.00
Linda HixonThe Grip: the 1918 Pandemic and a City Under Siege $300.00
Mass Audubon Broad Meadow BrookCelebrating Art and Nature with the Fargo Education Center Mural $3,450.00
Massachusetts Symphony OrchestraJazz in the Park: Celebrating Great African-American Composers $5,000.00
Mihoko WakabayashiSeed to Fashion $5,000.00
Music Worcester, Inc.Tickets to Opportunity $2,000.00
Nicole LuparelliFellowship $1,000.00
Open Door ArtsConnecting and Creating Through the Arts $5,000.00
Preservation WorcesterUrban Green and Blue $2,000.00
Rebecca LintonGrowing Community $5,000.00
Render Creative, Inc.Main IDEA Virtual Art Program $5,000.00
Ritmos Dance Studio Inc.Ritmos – Latinx Arts & Culture Experiential (LACE) $5,000.00
Ryan GardellFellowship $2,500.00
Salisbury SingersWhen Giving is All We Have $1,500.00
Samuel MartinLight the Night! $2,250.00
Sarah SandersPop It Podcast $3,500.00
Seven Hills ASPiRE!Seven Hills ASPiRE!: Virtual Creative Movement for People with Disabilities $4,905.00
Shaun ConnollyFellowship $5,000.00
Shirish KordeFellowship $1,000.00
Solon KelleherWalk w/Out Rhythm $4,300.00
Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts (SEACMA)17th Annual Asian Festival; 15th Annual Moon Festival $5,000.00
Studio Theatre WorcesterSummer Theatre Workshop $5,000.00
TechnocopiaSTEAM Teen Internship Program $5,000.00
The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for Performing ArtsStudent Matinee of “Thurgood” $5,000.00
Timothy KaneAll Together Drumming $200.00
Tochukwu OkaforFellowship $1,000.00
Tracy Ann Jones / Sunta AfricaFellowship $2,500.00
Vanessa CalixtoFellowship $2,500.00
Vanessa de LeonA Night to Remember: Folk Guardians of Worcester $5,000.00
WCLOC Theater CompanyThe Niceties $5,000.00
WICN Public RadioLatin Jazz Now Course $2,785.00
Worcester Chamber Music SocietyNeighborhood Strings $5,000.00
Worcester Community Cable Access, Inc.Spring Swing $2,500.00
Worcester Cultural CoalitionA Krampus Christmas $2,100.00
Worcester Historical MuseumVoices of History $4,050.00
Worcester Roots ProjectLOVE IS THE MESSAGE – SPOKEN WORD ARTIST vs. COMEDIANS -who delivers the better message? $5,000.00
Worcester Youth Center, Inc. (WYC)Mural Project $5,000.00
TOTAL AMOUNT OF ALL AWARDS $219,100.00
Fellowship Grants $27,000.00
Project Grants $192,100.00

About the Worcester Arts Council:
The Worcester Arts Council (WAC) is a municipal body consisting of nine embers appointed by the City Manager. The Council is charged with promoting the cultural affairs of the City of Worcester and allocating funds received by the Council for cultural project and programs. The mission of the Worcester Arts Council is to promote excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretative sciences to improve the quality of life for Worcester residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our City. The Worcester Arts Council is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. For more information visit: www.worcesterma.gov/wac. Current Worcester Arts Council members are Yasmin Goris (Chair), Jennifer Riley (Vice Chair), Lisa Malo (Secretary), Mitchell Perry (Treasurer), Silvana Boaheng, Chris Rich, David Filar, Brandon Lewis, and George Sedares.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council:
The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. The Council pursues this mission through a combination of grant programs, partnerships, and services for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. For more information visit: massculturalcouncil.org

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