Submitted material

Fundraising partnership features works by homeless photographers

'Through Our Eyes Project' comes to Columbia

Provided photo. Click to enlarge.

Hundreds of images taken by homeless photographers will soon be on display at Columbia's Koger Center, the centerpiece of an exhibit designed to raise awareness and money for local organizations that serve them.

People experiencing homelessness often cite a feeling of being invisible. Founded in 2016 by Spartanburg pastor and avid photographer Jason Williamson, Through Our Eyes Project (TOEP) gives homeless people a voice by allowing them to document their everyday lives with disposable cameras. The photos are then curated into an exhibit that celebrates the photographers and provides a personal view of homelessness that few have ever seen. TOEP has had successful runs in other South Carolina cities such as Boiling Springs, Greenville, and Spartanburg and extended to other states: Alaska, Massachusetts, and neighboring North Carolina. Williamson reflected on previous experiences: “The things that are always surprising is the amount of joy that a lot of people have—whether it’s a pet they’ve adopted, a child, or a friend. There’s a lot of joy, and that’s the part of the project that really caught me off guard,” he said. “We like to say that the cameras are disposable, but the people are not.” TOEP typically partners with host churches to connect with relevant nonprofits as recipients of funds raised from project sponsors, opening reception ticket sales, and the general public, who can vote for their favorite photos for $1 per vote. The top three photographers who receive the most votes will receive gifts with the money raised. Provided photo. Click to enlarge. The Columbia project debuts with a ticketed opening reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3. “We’ve wanted to bring TOEP to Columbia for several years now,” said Allison Caldwell, local missions director at Shandon Baptist Church. “We’re proud to partner with Oliver Gospel, Toby’s Place, and Family Promise of the Midlands to highlight what they do for homeless men, women and children in our community, and how others can help.” Opening reception tickets are available at Shandon.org for a donation of $25 or more. Held in the Koger Center’s upstairs gallery, the reception will include hors d'oeuvres, live music, partner booths, and a first glance at the images captured by more than 30 photographers. Space is limited and advance tickets are required to attend. After Nov. 3, the exhibit will be open for free public viewing weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Dec. 19. For more information visit Shandon.org or contact Allison Caldwell, Shandon Local Missions Director (803.528.0740 or acaldwell@shandon.org).
Disclosure: SCAC Communications Director Jason Rapp, editor of The Hub, is an active member and current deacon of Shandon Baptist Church and volunteered on a steering group for this project. The SCAC is not a project funder. This story was a submitted news release.

Jason Rapp

South Arts opens applications for Emerging Leaders of Color

New cycle for development program

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Wednesday, December 1, 2021

South Arts announced that applications are open for its Emerging Leaders of Color program.

They anticipate finding 18 cultural leader from across their nine-state region to form a cohort and participate in professional development and networking opportunities. Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) is a free multi-day professional development program for early- to mid-career arts administrators of color. This partnership program between South Arts and our colleague Regional Arts Organization WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation) provides tools, continued learning opportunities, and a growing professional network to administrators of color who seek to move into leadership positions in the arts and culture sector. This second Southern cohort will build on the success of South Arts’ first cohort and WESTAF’s ELC program which has been attracting, training, networking, and promoting a new generation of diverse arts leaders since 2010. Here's a quick video: ELC promotes representative leadership and equity in the arts by:
  • Building a cohort of cultural leaders of color in the southern United States who are committed to the advancement of the arts.
  • Engaging diverse emerging leaders in coursework and activities designed to strengthen competencies and prepare participants for leadership positions in the field.
  • Providing opportunities for promising arts professionals to establish networks that support their careers.
  • Advocating for the cultural interests of the communities participants represent and serve.
  • Deepening participants’ understanding of the arts in the United States and how public support sustains the vibrancy of the sector.
The second Southern cohort of this program will occur online in late January or early February 2022. At least one participant from each of South Arts’ nine-state region will be chosen to participate, with participation expenses paid. Selected participants will also be invited to join program alumni for continued leadership development. The faculty has distinct SCAC connections: Joy Young (star of the video above) served at the agency several years until leaving in 2019, and Margie Johnson Reese was a one-time grant panelist who also consulted on the One Columbia cultural plan for Columbia. Basically, The Hub is telling you that selected participants are in impeccable hands. Applications are due December 1, 2021.

Jason Rapp

Five-year case study to seek improvements in rural arts ed

The Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project announced it will conduct an intensive five-year case study with the Allendale County School District to discover solutions in how to improve rural communities’ arts education offerings.

The Community Access to the Arts in Rural Education (CARE) Project, its study and resulting guidebook will be accomplished with a $2.58 million Assistance in Arts Education grant funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Set to begin in 2021, the CARE Project will include multiple strategic state and local partnerships with the goal to develop sustainable approaches that will continue beyond the 2026 grant completion date. “Rural communities require a rural network of partnerships because of their lack of resources, and the CARE Project will align, strengthen and expand community partnerships among the Allendale schools with state and local partners,” ABC Project Director Kim Wilson said. Initial commitments to the CARE Project were received from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), South Carolina Department of Education, Arts Access SC and South Carolina Educational Television. Additional state and national partners will develop based on the needs and areas of growth identified throughout the CARE Project. Margaret Gilmore, superintendent of Allendale County School District, said her district is truly excited and grateful to have been awarded the arts grant for the amazing scholars of Allendale County School District. “This funding opportunity will certainly provide access to a sustainable arts-rich learning environment for the entire school community,” she said.
Arts advocates also are pleased with this opportunity. “After many years of working in Allendale County, it’s clear that there are many people who love and care about their community and the next generation,” said Susan DuPlessis, SCAC director of community arts development.  “We are excited about ways to engage the community as this study and new practices are developed.” DuPlessis runs the SCAC's "The Art of Community: Rural SC" initiative, which works in partnership with Allendale Rural Arts Team, which is led by Lottie Lewis. “There is momentum in Allendale for building community, addressing issues and identifying assets like never before,” she said. “This new emphasis on learning through the arts within the school system will have a reciprocal effect, I believe, on the whole community—and that’s exciting for young and old.” In communities with high rates of poverty, access to the arts can be difficult, Wilson added. It takes money for art, music or dance lessons, and all too often, rural schools don’t prioritize arts education due to financial constraints. Access to the arts, however, has been found to influence student engagement and there is hope in South Carolina that the arts can be nurtured in every community.
The CARE Project’s goal is to create and share a resource guidebook based on Allendale’s experiences to empower other rural communities of persistent poverty to increase access to arts education for its students. “One of the most important outcomes will be to explore how to develop and maintain arts-rich learning environments as a pathway to equitable education,” Wilson said. “There is an urgent need to research and serve these communities, which have been continually absent from research and policy discussions, yet represent the most extreme gaps in equitable education,” she added. To communicate the grant’s significance, Wilson noted that the Palmetto state has a higher percentage of schools in rural communities than the national average and 12 of the state's 46 counties suffer from persistent poverty, meaning poverty rates have exceeded 20 percent of the population for more than 30 years. The CARE Project will provide direct arts education programs and professional development for arts educators, teachers and principals in practices that support arts-rich learning. “An arts-rich learning environment includes a combination of direct arts instruction, arts integration with other non-arts curriculum and arts experiences provided by visiting artists or cultural and community organizations,” said Wilson. The guidebook will contain instructional materials, arts-based lesson plans and other resources to engage stakeholder groups in other rural communities to replicate the promising aspects of the process developed during the CARE Project in Allendale. Education Superintendent Molly Spearman said that, growing up and teaching in a rural community, she has seen firsthand the disparities that still exist in South Carolina. “Students in rural schools deserve the same opportunities afforded to their peers in more affluent areas,” Spearman said. “I commend the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project for its pursuit and receipt of this funding that will help us establish innovative solutions for bringing access to arts-based education to all students in South Carolina. I look forward to seeing this work in Allendale and learning how we may replicate their successes across our state.”

Jason Rapp

701 CCA’s South Carolina Biennial opens tonight

Two-part exhibition runs Oct. 7 to Dec. 23


The 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial 2021 is the sixth survey of South Carolina art taking place at 701 Center for Contemporary Art.

As the successor of the South Carolina Triennial, 701 CCA's Biennial is the main regular event of its kind. The Biennial presents some of the best contemporary art produced statewide and is a juried, multimedia exhibition in two parts. Exhibitions Part I and II both feature works created on a variety of media—oil or acrylic on canvas, photography, inkjet print, woodcut, mixed media, and three-dimensional art.

Acceptance to the 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial 2021 was based on a competitive selection process. Contemporary artists living in South Carolina were invited via a public call to submit both images of their recent artwork and documentation of their career to 701 CCA.

An independent jury of three art professionals reviewed all submissions, selecting 24 artists out of a total of about 88 applications. Visit the 701 CCA website to find out who they are. But know that among them are four recipients of the S.C. Arts Commission individual artist fellowship:

  • Jean Grosser (1993) – Part I
  • Adrian Rhodes (2020) – Part II
  • Kristi Ryba (2022) – Part II
  • Valerie Zimany (2020) – Part I

The jurors were:

  • Anita N. Bateman, Ph.D., associate curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • Paul Barrett, independent curator, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Cecelia Lucas Stucker, independent curator and founder of both Curating & Collections and the Palmetto Curatorial Exchange, Columbia, South Carolina

The Biennial 2021 will be presented in two parts. The first part begins tonight with a reception from 7-9 p.m. and remains on view through Nov. 14. The opening reception for Part II will be Friday, Nov. 19 from 7-9 p.m. 701 CCA is located at 701 Whaley St., 2nd Floor, in Columbia. During exhibitions, hours are Wednesday-Saturday 1-5 p.m. by appointment and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Free, but donations appreciated.


Jason Rapp

America’s cultural agencies celebrate 35th anniversary of Arts and Humanities Month

IMLS, NEA, NEH Join Together to Showcase the Power and Positive Impact of Arts and Humanities

Provided photo by Paula Lobo.

In celebration of the vital roles that arts and humanities play in American society, the nation’s cultural agencies—the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—have joined together to celebrate the 35th anniversary of National Arts and Humanities Month in October.

During the month, IMLS, NEA, and NEH will engage communities across the country to highlight how the arts and humanities help rebuild the economy, promote the health and well-being of individuals and communities, and unite our nation. In honor of the occasion, President Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation on National Arts and Humanities Month, 2021 which states:

“As our nation continues to grapple with consequential crises—from combating the ongoing global pandemic and addressing cries for racial justice to tackling the existential threat that climate change poses to our planet—the arts and humanities enable us to both understand our experiences and lift our sights. During this National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate the power of the arts and humanities to provide solace, understanding, and healing. We recognize the ability of the arts and humanities to amplify important and diverse voices and messages. We reflect on the fact that, as we have struggled with isolation, anxiety, and the loss of loved ones, we have turned to music and dance, literature and poetry, and philosophy and history to bring us together and help us persevere through, and grapple with, our current moment.…”

IMLS, NEA, and NEH released a joint statement in honor of the occasion:

“Three and a half decades after its first official recognition, National Arts and Humanities Month takes on new relevance to American life today. Music inspires and uplifts us, poems and stories spark our imagination, and museums teach us about the world—and ourselves. The arts and humanities have the power to unite us, to heal us, to sustain us, to help us better understand each other, and to guide us through challenging times.

“Like in many communities across the nation, the pandemic deeply affected those who work in the arts. Prior to COVID, the cultural sector employed 5.2 million Americans and annually generated nearly $1 trillion, and revitalizing our workforce is vital to the economic success of our nation. We must also work together to ensure that the systemic barriers to full participation in the arts and humanities are torn down, so that all Americans—regardless of race, geography, ability, and socioeconomic status—have unrestricted and equal access. This October, we hope that organizations, communities, and people across the nation will join us in marking the myriad of ways that arts and humanities matter each and every day.”

Throughout our nation’s history, the arts and humanities have showcased the creativity of our communities, made significant contributions to the wellness of young and old alike, and helped bring people together. In addition, a thriving creative economy is essential to America’s economy. Before the pandemic, the arts and culture sector was approaching a $1 trillion industry that directly employed 5.2 million people and indirectly supported millions more. Now more than ever, our nation needs the arts and humanities to rebuild, heal, and unite. Through social media, engagement with stakeholders and partners, and events, the three agencies will show the depth and diversity of our nation’s cultural landscape. Cultural organizations, government agencies, museums, libraries, and the American public are encouraged to join in celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month using #NAHM21 and #NAHM. For more information, please visit the IMLS, NEA, and NEH websites. Deep Center. Provided photo.
National Endowment for the Humanities Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at neh.gov. The Institute of Museum and Library Services The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov.  

Jason Rapp

FEMA makes aid available for arts, cultural orgs

Reimbursements for safe operating costs


Per our friends at ArtsReady, FEMA is now providing retroactive reimbursement for safe opening and operation costs incurred to address COVID safety for expenses incurred from Jan. 20, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021.

COVID-19 molecular structure image An image of COVID-19, courtesy of CDC Eligible private nonprofits can apply. Reimbursement is exclusive to COVID-19 emergency and major disaster declarations through FEMA’s Public Assistance program. Items that may be eligible for reimbursement include face coverings, Personal Protective Equipment, cleaning and disinfection, COVID-19 diagnostic testing, screening and temperature scanning and portable temporary physical barriers for social distancing.

Jason Rapp

Freeway Music School celebrates 10-year anniversary

Freeway Music—Columbia’s locally owned, premier music school—is celebrating 10 years of bringing music lessons, programs and events to students across the Midlands region.

Provided photo. Click to enlarge. Since opening its doors in 2011, Freeway Music has taught nearly 10,000 students through nearly half a million lessons, has donated more than $70,000 to local nonprofits, has given countless volunteer hours to the community and has collaborated with many partners to bring music to the region. From day one, Freeway Music has challenged its music schools and teachers to be innovative and responsive to the needs of their students. As a result of COVID-19, Freeway Music adapted its traditional in-person lessons and now offers the options for virtual lessons, showcases and recitals. Additionally, Freeway Music offers music lessons in participating Midlands area schools and through a long-standing partnership with The Columbia Children’s Theatre. “Freeway Music goes beyond your traditional music school,” Freeway Music co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Dan Russo said. “We are a hub for building deep relationships between teachers, students and the community — while staying focused on being innovative and adapting to the world around us. We use the power of music to develop and grow our students and ourselves.” Now with six locations throughout the greater Columbia metropolitan area and optional virtual lessons, what began as chance encounter by local musicians Russo and Tony Lee has flourished into the fastest growing music instruction school in South Carolina. Freeway Music offers private music lessons for all skill levels, styles and ages on a wide range of instruments, including piano, voice, ukulele, drums, bass, strings, woodwinds, horns, mandolin, banjo and more. “Adapting to virtual lessons and other programming has opened many doors for our students and teachers,” said co-founder Lee. “It’s allowed us to expand our way of teaching, as well as introduce new technology that gives us the capacity to teach anywhere in the world.”

Homegrown talent rooted in the Midlands

Freeway Music has been the catalyst for many of the region’s top music talent — many of which have gone on to pursue their musical careers on a national stage, from Neoni — the modern alternative pop rock and electronic band with over one million monthly listeners on Spotify — to Jonathan Wyndham, a top contender on The Voice in 2014, now turned independent singer, songwriter and producer with a number of singles on Spotify. Additionally, more than a dozen former students have graduated to becoming Freeway Music instructors — sharing their passion and love for music with others. “We could not be more proud to be Freeway Music alumni,” say Sydney Powell and Caitlin Powell of Neoni. “And to think it all began ten years ago in a lesson room, to music becoming our entire career—it’s truly amazing.”

Giving back through music

“Supporting our community is part of who we are — it’s embedded in the fabric of our DNA,” says Russo. “We’ve seen music transcend barriers, transform lives and unify people of all walks of life. An example of this in commitment was shown in 2016 when our instructors rallied together and played to raise money for a former cancer patient, who then recovered and became a Freeway student.” Over the past 10 years, Freeway Music has been making a positive mark on the community in countless way, including:
  • Donating nearly $60,000 to local charities through its co-partnership of the Freeway Music Festival, which unites the music community and celebrates local and regional talent.
  • Providing music scholarships to support youth who may not otherwise be able to afford music lessons.
  • Participating in fundraising and performances for many local nonprofits, including The Conner Foundation, Palmetto Children’s Hospital, Harvest Hope Food Bank, The Women’s Shelter, Pets Inc., Pawmetto Lifeline, Trustus Theatre, Girls Rock Columbia, the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, and the South Carolina Philharmonic, among others.
  • Supporting local schools with free lesson and performances, including Bethel-Hanberry Elementary, St. John Newman, Heathwood Hall, the University of South Carolina, Columbia College, Blythewood High School, Irmo High School, St. Andrews Middle School and many more.
  • Volunteering and supporting local events, including the Festival of Trees, Rooftop Rhythms, St. Pat's in Five Points Parade, Palmetto Christmas, the MG&C Long Run, the Heart and Sole Run, Get in the Pink Race, Vista Lights, First Thursdays on Main and more.

Showcasing talent on the Big Stage

Each season, Freeway Music presents music showcases that are free and open to the public at various large venues in the region. These showcases are crucial to students’ musical development and allows an opportunity for them to show off their skills in “real life” settings for an experience similar to professional music performances. Support local students and enjoy live music by attending a Freeway Music showcase this fall.
  • Downtown: Sunday, Sept. 26, 2-5 p.m., Tin Roof, 1022 Senate St., Columbia
  • Lexington: Sunday, Oct. 31, 2-4 p.m., Ice House Amphitheater, 107 W. Main St., Lexington
  • Northeast: Sunday, Nov. 21, 1-6 p.m., The Senate, 1022 Senate St, Columbia
  • Irmo: TBD. Check the Freeway Music calendar for updates on this showcase.
For the latest on upcoming event dates and venues, visit https://freewaymusic.net/events/. To learn more about Freeway Music and register for classes with year-round enrollment at https://freewaymusic.net/.
Founded in 2011, Freeway Music is the Columbia region’s premier music school with five locations in downtown Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, the Northeast, and within Sims Music. Freeway Music offers private lessons for all skill levels, styles, and ages on a wide range of instruments, including piano, voice, ukulele, drums, bass, strings, woodwinds, horns, mandolin, banjo, and more. Freeway Music’s mission is to equip students in music and life to make a positive impact in their community. Freeway Music is the exclusive music school partner of Sims Music, a locally owned and nationally recognized music store. For more information visit freewaymusic.net or call 844.537.7661.

Jason Rapp

Is your arts org at a crossroad?

New toolkit available for handling transitions

Intro webinar coming Thursday, Sept. 23

Over the last year, many arts and cultural organizations have found themselves at a crossroads of some sort.

Recognizing that arts leaders don’t always have the tools and information to weigh their options and make decisions in a proactive and thorough way, NCAPER has published The Arts Organizations at a Crossroads Toolkit: Managing Transitions and Preserving Assets, a free, online resource. The toolkit compiles guidance and material from highly regarded sources from across the country into a clear, easy-to-navigate web-based resource, now available at https://www.ncaper.org/general-4. Jan Newcomb, executive director of NCAPER, the National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response, said “The Arts Organizations at a Crossroads Toolkit was created to guide arts leaders through three significant transitions they are likely to face during their organization’s life: structural shifts; the loss of key staff/leadership; and recognizing that the artistic and physical assets they’ve created are worthy of protection and preservation.” Each of these ‘crossroads’ is addressed in a section of the toolkit: “The Performing Arts Readiness project continues to present a wide array of free webinars, including an introduction to The Arts Organizations at a Crossroads Toolkit on September 23,” said Tom Clareson, project director. “For arts leaders in all disciplines, these professional development opportunities present feasible and timely ways to ensure their organizations are more resilient, more prepared, and more sustainable.” Registration for the free webinar is now open. The Crossroads toolkit is written and developed by Mollie Quinlan-Hayes and published and produced by NCAPER with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts to South Arts, the administrative home of NCAPER, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The toolkit joins NCAPER’s expanding library of resources. Recently, NCAPER published An Arts Field Guide to Federal Disaster Relief, for Arts Organizations and Businesses, Artists and Cultural Workers. The field guide was created to help demystify federal disaster relief for the arts and culture sector by helping artists and arts organizations see what’s available, understand clearly what isn’t available, and decide if pursuing federal aid is a good use of time. The top programs of use to artists and arts organizations have been selected for inclusion.

About NCAPER

The National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response/NCAPER, a voluntary task force of national, regional, state and local arts organizations, public agencies, and foundations the Coalition helps ensure that artists, arts/cultural organizations, cultural funders, and arts businesses have the capacity and ability to respond effectively to disasters and emergencies affecting the arts and culture sector. https://www.ncaper.org/

About Performing Arts Readiness

The Performing Arts Readiness project was formed in the recognition that performing arts organizations are especially vulnerable to disasters and emergencies which can halt performances, sometimes indefinitely, and can put an organization out of business overnight. The project includes outreach and community engagement efforts; information resources; “Circuit Rider” mentoring programs; and grants for emergency networks and emergency preparedness plans. https://performingartsreadiness.org/  

Jason Rapp

Free professional development opportunity for #SCartists

Access online learning from top universities

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Monday, September 20, 2021

The South Carolina Arts Commission and Kadenze unveiled a new partnership this week to provide #SCartists valuable access to more than 3,000 hours of online learning from top universities worldwide.

The partnership seeks to answer three questions #SCartists might have:
  • Do you find it difficult to access professional arts learning?
  • Are you a beginning, emerging, or mature artist or teaching artist?
  • Are you looking for personal and professional development to propel your arts career forward?
Kadenze has an extensive catalog of fully online learning. Their goal is to teach the art and science of creativity at a price point that is affordable to everyone. To that end, the first 100 artists, teaching artists and arts administrators in South Carolina can register to be granted open and unrestricted access to the kadenze.com course catalogue free of charge for a three-month period. Extend your arts skills and knowledge by studying from more than 35 courses. Visit the partnership landing page to learn more and register today. The deadline to take advantage is coming soon: Monday, Sept. 20.

Jason Rapp

NEA announces grants for military-connected individuals

Creative Forces partnership supports military, veteran communities


The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance, is pleased to announce the launch of a new grant program as part of Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network.

The Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants will support arts engagement programming for military and veteran populations and family members, providing opportunities for creative expression and strengthening resilience. Creative Forces is an NEA initiative in partnership with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs which seeks to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. The deadline to apply for these new grants is December 15, 2021. “This national grant program furthers the work of the NEA Creative Forces initiative in recognizing the important role that the arts can play in supporting our nation’s military and Veteran communities,” said Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough. “I was recently able to see first-hand the benefit of creative arts therapies in a Veterans’ hospital and I look forward to seeing how artists and community arts organizations will utilize creative arts programming to contribute to the health and well-being of their local military and Veterans, as well as their families and caregivers.” The Creative Forces Community Engagement grant programs will serve a broad military-connected population, including active-duty service members, guardsmen, reservists, veterans, military and veteran families, as well as caregivers and healthcare workers providing care for military service members and veterans. The aim of these grants is to expand programming into the community and address the distinct experiences, challenges, and strengths of military and veteran families, care providers, and veteran populations. Watch a short video about the grant program. “Our military service members and their families have sacrificed to protect and defend the freedom of our nation,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “The projects supported by this grant program will recognize that arts engagement can provide a powerful outlet for fostering community and personal connections. We are pleased to be working with Mid-America Arts Alliance to develop and manage this new program.” Creative Forces Community Engagement projects will require at least one partner; and be led by or include at least one organization with a history of creative or artistic programming. Partnerships among arts organizations and veteran and military service organizations are highly encouraged. Funding will support projects beginning on or after July 1, 2022. Awards of $10,000 - $50,000 will be available in two tiers:

The emerging grant tier

  • Provides support for eligible organizations to develop and implement new or emerging nonclinical arts engagement programs for military-connected populations or for small organizations
  • Matching grant amount: up to $10,000 for one-year projects

The advanced grant tier

  • Provides support for eligible organizations with established military-related non-clinical arts programming
  • Matching grant amounts: $10,000 - $25,000 for one-year projects or up to $50,000 for two-year projects
"Through projects Mid-America Arts Alliance has funded and experienced in our region, we have seen the tremendous ability for the arts to make social connections and foster resiliency with members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families, among others," said Todd Stein, President and CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance. "The Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants seek to promote creativity, health, and healing with military-connected populations across the country.” Mid-America Arts Alliance will host a webinar for potential applicants on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. In addition, research and resources are available in the online Creative Forces National Resource Center to support the practice of arts engagement with the military community. Resources for community arts providers include key findings on impacts and lessons learned from community arts engagement pilot projects funded by Creative Forces between 2018-2020, as well as information on serving military connected populations. For the complete guidelines and to apply for a Creative Forces Community Engagement grant, visit www.maaa.org/creativeforces.

About the Creative Forces Initiative

Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The initiative seeks to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. Creative Forces is managed in partnership with Americans for the Arts, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, and Mid-America Arts Alliance. More information, including clinical-based activities and research, can be found at arts.gov/creativeforces.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

About Mid-America Arts Alliance

Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) strengthens and supports artists, cultural organizations, and communities throughout our region and beyond. Additional information about M-AAA is available at https://www.maaa.org/.