18 Arts Grants Awarded to Strengthen Cross-cultural Understanding

January 5, 2012

From now through December 2012, 18 local organizations will create arts-based projects designed to strengthen cross-cultural understanding, increase tolerance and encourage a more civil society.

Tucson Pima Arts Council awarded grants totaling $103,963 with funding received from Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Open Society Institute.

“These awards illuminate how Tucsonans working in the creative arts are building bridges and contributing to our civic well-being. These awards speak to the fact that our community is working to bring out the best in us,” said Robert Bedoya, TPAC’s executive director.  “It’s all about building bridges of understanding.”

• “Beyond Groceries” will explore the relationships between Tucson’s Chinese grocers of old and multi-ethnic neighborhoods. This is a project of the Tucson Chinese Association.

• “Page to Stage and Beyond” will use performance poetry to examine stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings between Mexican-American and Native-American communities. This is a Safos Dance Theatre project.

• “The Wonder of We” will create a sense of place by giving Tucson a face – posting portraits of people of all ages throughout the city. Lewis Humphreys, organizer and curator of TEDxTucson, will head this project.

• Pan Left Productions will use the voice of homeless youth to create a media arts project that addresses the systemic causes that lead to children raising themselves on the streets of our city.

• C.A.S.T. will provide expressive arts workshops for homeless youth that will culminate in a collection of stories presented in a public performance.

• “Bus Stop Dreaming” is an eight-month oral history project concerning recent deportations that will culminate in a multi-media performance. This will be led by Denise Uyehara, performance artist, writer and playwright.

• “Soundscapes, Landscapes and Lifescapes” will be an exhibit that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arizona/Sonora borderland. This is a project of the University of Arizona Museum of Art.

•  Through a Tucson Meet Yourself project, UA ethnographers will train up to 25 “community scholars” to record and share stories of cross-cultural mixing, migrations, civic participation and artistic practices.

• Self-described “writer, videographer, composer, musician and recovering scientist” Dan Buckley will produce a documentary on the El Casino Ballroom, Tucson’s original community center.

• In “Bringing Numerical Statistics to Life” Wesley Fawcett Creigh will create larger-than-life portraits of women in detention centers.

TPAC also awarded grants for projects by All Souls Procession, Borderlands Theatre, Esperanza Dance Project, the Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network, The Loft Cinema, New ARTticulations Dance Theatre, Stories That Soar! and Tucson Arts Brigade. Grants ranged in amount from $1,560 to $7,000.

“This wonderful array of projects helps us appreciate the vibrancy of our civil society and just how dynamic and rich our community is,” Bedoya said.

TPAC applied for funding from several national foundations, addressing the broad topic of building a civil society. “Arts and culture can inspire citizens to transform neighborhoods and encourage civic dialogue around challenging issues,” he said.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation, based in New York, supports a wide range of projects, including community-based artistic and cultural projects that build a just society. The Open Society Institute is dedicated to building vibrant and tolerant democracies and funds projects worldwide.

This foundation support further develops the TPAC’s Tucson P.L.A.C.E. initiative – which stands for People, Land, Arts, Culture and Engagement.