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.

Photo of Toni against yellow wall

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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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 →

Grantee Spotlight: NY Writers Coalition

We’re less than three 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.

Lit Fest performer
Morgan Weidinger performing at NYWC’s Lit Fest in Fort Greene. Credit: Roger Nembhard

Organization: NY Writers Coalition (NYWC)

Launched in 2002, NY Writers Coalition partners with community organizations to provide free and low-cost writing workshops across New York City. Workshops are targeted to youth, seniors, women, LGBT communities, people living with disabilities, people who are incarcerated or have been incarcerated, and others from traditionally silenced groups in order to encourage writing as a means of empowerment and social change. 

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

We received our first BAC grant in 2005. Since then, we have grown from a mostly volunteer, grassroots organization into one of the largest community-based creative writing programs in the world.

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BAC Grants: What’s new for 2016

We just released the guidelines, applications and info session dates for BAC’s 2016 Community Arts Grants!

If you need to familiarize yourself with our programs, check out my posts about BAC Grants Basics and Getting an early start on your proposal.

This post will highlight some of the additions & improvements we’ve made for 2016. Hope to see you at an info session!

Narrowed request range from $1-5,000 to $2-5,000
Applicants can now ask for funding in the range of $2-5,000.  This is in response to the amount of each individual grant we’re traditionally able to award vs. the amount of work it takes to apply for and manage a grant. In narrowing the request amount, we will be awarding larger individual grants, hopefully reducing the amount of additional fundraising grantees have to do to complete a project, and ideally creating a larger impact. In 2015, we asked the panel to really consider these things when determining funding amounts and our average grant size went from $1,500-$1,800 to $1,800-$2,000. To progress!

Goodbye CAF, hello BAF
Community Arts Fund is now Brooklyn Arts Fund. It may seem semantic, but it’s really an effort to further clarify each program’s funding goals – the next phase in some of the work we started last year. The program funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs aims to cultivate Brooklyn’s artists, arts organizations, and audiences through its support of high-quality arts projects in all disciplines, genres and styles: Brooklyn art for Brooklyn audiences. Brooklyn Brooklyn Brooklyn!

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Friends with Money: Julia Steele Allen

Image provided by the artist.

Image provided by the artist.

Name: Julia Steele Allen

Aka: Um…Mister? Boss-of-one?

Hometown: NYC! Born here!

Neighborhood: Currently living in Prospect Heights/ Crown Heights but soon Flatbush (again)

Favorite thing about your neighborhood:

Living close to Prospect Park! But…moving from here again soon. Love living in Brooklyn, but housing uncertainty is the new normal and it’s rough.

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