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Grants nurture diversity in arts and culture
By Chris Barnett / April 11, 2019 /   Loading Disqus...

Four local arts and cultural organizations from the minority community will receive capacity-building grants of up to $30,000 through the Expansion Arts Program (EAP) at the Rhode Island Foundation.

“We believe in the importance of nourishing the artistic and cultural traditions of communities of color. This is an important part of our strategy to foster diverse participation in the arts,” said Daniel Kertzner, who oversees the Expansion Arts Program for the Foundation. As a state, we are strengthened by the diversity and resilience of our communities. By recognizing and addressing the unique needs of the organizations that preserve a range of cultural traditions, we work to elevate the multiple voices and experiences that define and enrich our state’s cultural offerings.”

A joint effort with the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), the program targets emerging organizations whose programs and missions center on the cultural practices and traditions of Rhode Island’s diverse communities.

“Rhode Island has been and continues to be home to many groups of people from all over the world. The Expansion Arts Program helps to ensure that the people and organizations dedicated to cultural heritage have what they need to tell their stories, connect with each other and encourage young people to be involved,” said Elizabeth Francis, RICH’s executive director.

In addition to the funding, consultants will work with the groups to help them build knowledge and expertise in the areas of financial management, marketing and audience development, leadership development and strategic collaborations.

“Expansion Arts has been a model in helping community-based and culturally-specific organizations learn and grow and prosper. One of the things we value as Rhode Islanders is our rich tapestry of cultures, and this collaboration with the Rhode Island Foundation helps ensure that these cultures have strong and vital champions at the local level,” said Randall Rosenbaum, RISCA’s executive director.

EcoArts USA in Providence supports, coordinates and leads arts, cultural and educational exchange programs between artists from Rhode Island, Cuba and Latin America by cultivating, promoting and documenting their talent and creativity to share their own stories and histories.

“The best way to connect and learn about different cultures is meeting directly with people through arts and cultural exchanges and fostering conversations that transcend language, customs and barriers. These are true opportunities for a more profound and sustained engagement among artists and between artists and the community,” said founder and President Delia Rodriguez-Masjoan.

The Korean American Association of Rhode Island in Cranston serves the state’s Korean community and educates Rhode Islanders about Korean history, culture and heritage.

“We are so thankful and humble to receive this grant. We are looking forward to your guiding, partnership and education to serve the Korean community and people of Rhode Island,” said Monica Lee, president of the Korean American Association of Rhode Island.

The Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading Committee of Providence raises awareness of the impact of the "Poet Laureate of Harlem. The highlight is an annual public reading of Hughes’ work about the Black experience in America, which date from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s through his death in 1967.

“Langston Hughes is an American treasure and my favorite poet. The expansion arts grant will allow us to expand our outreach into middle schools and high school schools. We especially want his voice to be heard among the younger generation to keep the message of creative freedom, loud and strong and introduce more young people to the ‘man’,” said April Brown, program director.

The Sankofa Community Connection in Newport encourages pride of place within Newport County’s African American community through community events, discussions and education that reveals, honors and celebrates the cultural heritage of African Americans of early Newport.

“Our signature event, the Day of Renewal, combines all three of our focus areas, promoting social cohesion, bringing all communities together and celebrating the African Americans of early Newport. The third annual Day of Renewal will be June 15,” said Niko Merritt, founder and executive director.

This is Expansion Arts’ third round of funding since the Foundation began running the program in partnership with RISCA and RICH. Recent recipients include R.I. Cape Verdean Heritage, the Columbian American Cultural Society, the India Association of R.I. and the Laotian Community Center of R.I. 

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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