Grantee Spotlight: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

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.

Cover photo of book

The cover of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, edited by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Adama Delphine Fawundu.

Artist: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn is a documentary photographer whose work has been published by the New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, Vogue, and more. She is the curator of an upcoming exhibition of photographs from the McKinley Collection that focuses on constructions of African womanhood. 

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

I am mainly a documentary photographer, I am learning video and hope to be more skilled in that medium.

What has your BAC grant helped you accomplish?

The last BAC grant that I received allowed me to publish MFON, which is an anthology featuring the works of women photographers of African descent. It is the first book of its kind since 1986. Continue reading →

Check out some of the art you’ll see at AccessArt 2018!

 

Do you have your tickets to BAC’s annual affordable art sale? AccessArt is taking place on Thursday, October 25th this year at Usagi NY in DUMBO and you don’t want to miss out on your chance to add some affordable art to your collection! Read on to hear from a handful of this year’s artists about their contributed works:

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Grantee Spotlight: Brooklyn Raga Massive

BAC has been providing community arts grants to Brooklyn’s artists, cultural ambassadors, arts organizations, and communities for almost 40 years, putting city and state cultural dollars directly into the hands of the artists and organizations. In our Grantee Spotlight series, we’re highlighting some of those artists and organizations who contribute so much to the cultural vitality of Brooklyn. 

Pradhanica

Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Raga Massive

Organization: Brooklyn Raga Massive (BRM)

Brooklyn Raga Massive is a collective of musicians and ensembles interested in exploring Indian and South Asian music while cultivating communities and sounds specific to Brooklyn. BRM puts on weekly jam sessions, concerts, and this week, a 24-hour festival featuring over 60 musicians. Catch the Ragas Live Festival this weekend at Pioneer Works! 

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

We are mainly a musician’s collective focusing on Raga-based traditional and contemporary music. However, we do have multidisciplinary projects now, such as creating more music videos and video documentation, and projects that mix dance (Ragas in Motion) and video (BRM performs a live score to the movie Fantastic Planet).

We are specifically drawn to creating a supportive platform for Raga-based musicians because there is a hub of musicians in Brooklyn and the New York area who are interested in Indian music and who are serious practitioners. The audience is also growing for the particular flavor of music BRM is creating as a melting pot indigenous to Brooklyn.

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Grantee Spotlight: Haiti Cultural Exchange

Applications are closed for our Community Arts Grants cycle, but we’re still highlighting past grantees who have given us updates on where their BAC grants have taken them! Read on to find out more about Haiti Cultural Exchange, whose grant helped them grow as an organization that serves a creative community vital to Brooklyn.

Performance at Selebrasyon 2018

Artist performace at HCX’s Selebrasyon! 2018

Organization: Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX)

Haiti Cultural Exchange was founded in 2009 by seven Haitian-American women who wanted to foster Haitian cultural expression in New York City. HCX programming ranges from film festivals to arts education in schools, in addition to providing resources and networks for both established and emerging artists.  

What sector of the arts do you dedicate yourself to?

We’ve dedicated ourselves to our Haitian artists and their communities. We want to build an inclusive future and celebrate our identities, and we believe that it is through the arts that we both build this future and activate individuals to understand the value of their creative selves, their ideas, and community.

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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!

Continue reading →