Meet Toni Williams, BAC’s New Board Chair!

This week, BAC’s Board of Directors was pleased to announce the election of Antonia (Toni) Yuille Williams as the new Chair of the Board. Toni most recently served as Vice Chair of the Board, and has been a strong presence in Brooklyn’s community development sector for years. We’re thrilled to see Toni take the helm of this influential group of leaders helping to guide BAC’s vision moving forward! We caught up with Toni recently to pick her brain about working with the BAC Board, her observations of Brooklyn, and her hopes for BAC for the future:

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Antonia (Toni) Yuille Williams

What attracted you to joining the BAC Board of Directors initially? 

I was introduced to the great work of Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) when I first joined Con Edison back in 1990. Con Ed had been and continues to be a long time partner of BAC, back when the organization was referred to as BACA, the Brooklyn Arts and Culture Association. During that iteration, BACA was everywhere….in concerts, in local parks in Brooklyn, at Lincoln Center, and in Downtown Brooklyn, nurturing playwrights. I was an actress in another life, and have always appreciated, consumed, and loved to be immersed in the art world—all aspects of art, visual, and performance. Who wouldn’t be attracted to an organization that nurtures and preserves arts and culture?

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Arts in Ed STEAMs ahead!

BAC has been a leading source for arts education in Brooklyn schools for over 25 years, connecting teaching artists with K-12 classrooms to provide hands-on learning experiences that foster creativity and imagination. Today, we’re heading to PS 99 in Midwood for a recap of two residencies in Spring 2018. 

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Students present their original mosaic depicting ‘Lucy’ the first human, with their peers.

Sixth-graders at PS 99 took art-making from prehistoric times to the present last school  year in after-school programs that they helped design. For the third year in a row, BAC’s Arts in Education team partnered with the school to create artist residencies that responded to the interests of students and staff. Continue reading →

Grantee Spotlight: The Arab-American Family Support Center

The deadline for our current cycle of Community Arts Grants is TOMORROW! Read on as we continue to catch up with previous BAC grantees to learn more about the wide range of projects this funding can support, and what these artists and organizations are up to now.

Mother and baby

All ages are welcome at the AAFSC offices

Organization: The Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC)

The Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) provides immigrant communities with health services, language and literacy education, legal assistance, youth leadership programming, and more to help them acclimate to life in the United States. 

What has your BAC grant helped you accomplish?

We are incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Brooklyn Arts Council. With BAC funding, we were able to engage our young people in the arts, as a means of self-expression, personal growth, and cultural exploration – all particularly important in this current climate of xenophobia. Our young people had a chance to explore a variety of art forms including drawing, traditional dance, and drumming, and were truly engaged and excited by all these forms.

How have you grown since your BAC grant? In what ways is AAFSC a different organization now?

Since receiving our BAC grant, we have grown tremendously. We see our students’ leadership skills and self-expression blossom as they have been exposed to various forms of art. We are all so grateful for an opportunity to prioritize such a key aspect of youth development, an aspect which is often forgotten–art!

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Grantee Spotlight: Toni Blackman (The Cypher Workshop)

The September 20th deadline for our current cycle of Community Arts Grants is only one week away! Keep following our Grantee Spotlight series as we catch up with previous BAC grantees to learn more about the kind of work this funding can help support, and what these artists and organizations are up to now.

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Credit: Jamel Love

Artist: Toni Blackman

Toni Blackman is a multidisciplinary artist and hip hop activist who uses workshops, collectives, podcasts, and performances to encourage others to share their own work. Her Cypher Workshop, a bi-weekly freestyle rap, encourages participants to open up and gain confidence in their creativity. Rhyme Like a Girl, a collective for established and aspiring female MCs, promotes positive images of women in hip hop. 

Why do you make art?

I’m most dedicated to music, but also dabble in theater, writing, dance, and poetry. I’ve always been an artist. I’m one of those creatives that would suffocate without art. It is not a choice for me. I must create art, so I have multi-disciplinary projects, collaborations, and endeavors that help me to breathe freely: inhale creativity, exhale creativity.

What has your BAC grant helped you accomplish?

I partnered with a hot new venue for my granted public event, and the success of our event led to a long term relationship that has brought so much life to all of my work as an artist!

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Stop-motion animation and murals bring students together

We’re celebrating National Arts in Education Week by sharing stories of how #ArtsEdChangesLives. Step into two residencies with us to see how students across Brooklyn learn and grow through BAC’s arts education initiatives: 

FY18_PS95_VISUAL_SydneyToon (20) - CopyBAC teaching artists provide hands-on learning experiences for K-12 students in a variety of arts disciplines including dance, digital media, theater, music, visual arts, literary arts, and more. Our residencies foster creativity and imagination as well as community-building and problem-solving by bringing customized programs to schools and students across Brooklyn.

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Brooklyn seniors learn flamenco, improv, and more through SU-CASA residencies

We’re celebrating National Arts in Education Week by sharing stories of how #ArtsEdChangesLives. Today, we’re looking at the impact that arts education can have for Brooklyn’s older adults through two of BAC’s SU-CASA artist residencies.

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As part of BAC’s commitment to providing creative aging programs for older adults, SU-CASA residencies connect teaching artists with senior centers to bring new and deepening artistic exploration in any discipline. Resident artists come from a wide range of art forms, bringing everything from painting, ceramics, and cyanotype to music composition, photography, and Spanish literature to centers across Brooklyn. Continue reading →

Grantee Spotlight: Sarah Nicholls

We’re two weeks away from the application deadline for our current cycle of Community Arts Grants, due September 20th! Follow our Grantee Spotlight series as we catch up with previous BAC grantees to learn more about the kind of work this funding can help support, and what these artists and organizations are up to now.

Artist's book Lavender and evil things

Pages from the pamphlet Lavender and Evil Things, 2016

Artist: Sarah Nicholls

Sarah Nicholls makes artist books, illustrations, and prints, often with letterpress and linoleum block printing. The scope of her work also includes guided walks at Dead Horse Bay, research for informational pamphlets, and more. Her limited edition artist books are in the collections of institutions including the Brooklyn Museum, Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Pennsylvania.

What sector of the arts do you dedicate yourself to and why?

I make artist books. I enjoy bookmaking because it is both visual and verbal. I enjoy that books are sculptural objects that ask you to touch and manipulate them; that they combine time, narrative, and formal qualities, all in a portable format.

What has your BAC grant helped you accomplish?

Funding allowed me to publish three pamphlets about Jamaica Bay, hold an artist talk, lead a walk in Dead Horse Bay, and an exhibition in Jamaica Bay of the entire cycle of work. Continue reading →