Friends with Money: Gabriella Dennery of Grace Drums



Name: Gabriella Dennery
AKA: Grace Drums, percussion and vocal ensemble, along with 4 other amazing women artists
Hometown: Ottawa, Canada and yes, as a kid I played ice hockey and loved it.
How long have you’ve lived in Brooklyn? 16 wonderful years. I love Brooklyn!
Neighborhood: Currently East NY (7 years). I also lived in Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and Bed-Stuy.

Favorite thing about neighborhood: The community gardens. I have three boxes in a garden. I started last year, planting veggies and herbs. What a declaration of independence: growing healthy food in the city, under the brakes of the trains overhead. The best day to plant is Sunday mornings, when I also get treated to live gospel from a neighboring church. Very inspiring and very zen. I also love the incredible vibrancy of the sunflowers when in full bloom. These sunny giants are everywhere in this neighborhood, and when they’re swaying to the rhythm of the wind on cool fall day, it’s the most beautiful sight in the world.

What did you get funded for: I got funding for The Women Gather Project.

Gabriella in her home garden in East New York.

Gabriella in her East New York garden.

Tell us a bit about it: To me, individual expression is pivotal to person’s healing and empowerment. Drumming is such a captivating embodiment of personal power. With The Women Gather Project, Grace Drums is bringing drumming to survivors of domestic (DV) and sexual violence (SV) in two ways: Interactive drumming workshops for clients and staff of collaborating DV and SV programs, and Grace Drums’ annual concert, an energy and joy packed celebration of victories over violence. The workshops began in March 2014 and we’re growing our network of collaborators in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Some of the workshops will be open to the public, but not all. The safety and confidentiality of the participants is priority one. Our second annual concert is on Saturday Nov. 1 at LUI Kumble Theater and it is open to the public. Last year we sold out and had to turn people away at the door. This year we have a larger venue. I have no doubt we’ll sell out again. In this day and age a message of dignity, of empowerment, especially for women and girls resonates deeply with many, men women and children, because that’s your sister, your mother, your teacher, your friend, your spouse, your reflection.

What else do you have coming up? Coming up, Grace Drums will have a live CD out before the end of the year, Yeah! We have several concerts coming up including the Spoke The Hub Local Produce Festival in Park Slope at the Old Stone House (5th ave and 4th street) at 5pm, and the Harlem Arts Festival this June 29. The Women Gather Project has drumming workshops scheduled for June and July. I’ll know more about which are open to the public in a few days, and it will be posted on the Grace Drums FB page, as well as our website and twitter.

What’s your jam? Personally I’m working on finishing 2 big compositions and I’m excited because they incorporate what music feels to me, down to my DNA. If the tune connects to every cell of my being, and makes me want to get up and dance, then I know it will touch hearts. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things like that, so it takes a while to get them done. I’m making great progress though. Can’t wait to hear them live…. before the year is out!

Anything you’re you totally over? Yup. I’m over all the admin hours! It’s worth it. Grace Drums has definitely grown in the last year. I’m still trying to find the right balance though between keeping up with all the admin and my primary reason for being, which is creating life affirming music for stage and recording!

When not making art you are: Cooking, gardening, crafting with fabric, napping.

Gabriella Dennery is a Brooklyn based percussionist who left the practice of primary care medicine to pursue her love of music as a teacher and performer. In 2010, she founded the all women’s percussion and vocal ensemble Grace Drums, adding an eclectic blend of harmonized vocals and contemporary styles to traditional djembe. Recent performances include BAC’s Harbolore Festival, Union Theological Seminary, the Roulette Theater/YWCA gala, and the Queen’s Public Library 28th Annual World Music series. In 2013, she launched The Women Gather Project, bringing African drumming to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Gabriella is a two-time recipient of BAC’s CAF grant, and was recently honored with a citation from the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office for Women’s History Month. Connect with Gabriella and Grace Drums at, tweet at @GraceDrumsMusic.

Friends with Money: Chriselle Tidrick of Above and Beyond Dance

Above and Beyond Dance, photo by Julie Lemberger

Above and Beyond Dance, photo by Julie Lemberger

Name: Chriselle Tidrick

AKA: Chris

Hometown: Poland, Ohio

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? 17 years

Neighborhood: Boerum Hill

Favorite thing about neighborhood: I know my neighbors, so it really feels like home.

Above and Beyond Dance, photo by Julie Lemberger

Above and Beyond Dance, photo by Julie Lemberger

What did you get funded for? Dreamscapes, a new work of circus-infused dance being created by my company, Above and Beyond Dance.

What’s that all about? Dreamscapes is choreographed for 5 dancer/circus arts performers and fuses contemporary dance, aerial harness, aerial fabric, static trapeze, and stilt disciplines to depict the ethereal wonder of dreams and the surreal terror of nightmares. Various realms are born out of each dreaming figure’s inner consciousness, generating a series of fantastical vignettes ranging from grotesque, misshapen bodies in a landscape of destruction to an otherworldly scene of angelic beings in aerial fabric. The completed work will run about 35 minutes and will premiere September 19-21 as part of Dreamscapes and Other Imaginings, a co-production with The Muse in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

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Friends with Money: JP Howard of Women Writers in Bloom

Welcome to our new profile column Friends with Money, where you can get to know the people that bring BAC Grants to life!

I was honored to take part in JP Howard’s funded project, Women Writers in Bloom, this past weekend. I was welcomed into a salon member’s beautiful home in Fort Greene, where I was surrounded by dynamic women artists. The environment was so nurturing, I even read some work of my own for the first time! Read on to find out more about JP Howard and her work. – mlt 

JP in curator mode

JP in curator mode, photo by Akinfe Fatou

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REPOST: 6 tips on getting a head start on your BAC Grants proposal

This post is updated with info on our current grant cycle – hope you enjoy! – mlt 

Out of town working or playing this summer? Planning your 2016 funding calendar? Whatever the reason, we’ve received a lot of inquiry as to what artists and organizations can do to start prepping for their 2016 application now.

Taking the main aspects of the application into consideration, I’ve gathered some tips on what you can do now to get a head start on your 2016 application. So familiarize yourself with our program & get ready for some creative planning.

1. Project Narrative: dream big
This is a great time to dream big about your 2016 project. While September is the time for brevity (we only allow 500 words in the application’s main project description), now is the time for being passionate and illustrious! This is a great time to brainstorm and expound on what you intend to do. Write at length about your dream project; who you want to work with, where you want it to occur, and why it would be the best thing for someone to fund – just go for it! Whether you’ve applied to our program successfully or unsuccessfully before, take out your previous application, shake the dust out, write & re-write. Think big & edit later. Spring is also a good time to polish your grant writing skills: take a workshop, or read a grant writing book.

just - serenity now.

just – serenity now.

2. Project budget: plan your resources
While you’re in dream state about your upcoming project, start thinking about using the budget as a different tool to tell the same story as the project narrative. They benefit from being created together. While I suggest holding off on the nitty-gritty bubble-bursting line items until at least the second draft of your narrative, start planning your resources: where else you will go for funding support? Are you planning on supplementing with a crowd funding campaign? What are your options for earned income or in-kind donations? Will you have to rent space? Will you be working in conjunction with another organization? What resources can they provide? Thinking of your budget as another tool to help craft your dream project may help curb some anxiety later on.

3. Work sample: document now
Always Be Documenting! Spring & Summer are busy months that provide great opportunity to build on or begin creating your work sample. Take pics and video of your spring & summer shows, or make arrangements to get copies of the work if someone else is documenting it. There is no such thing as documenting too much. NYFA has put together a great three part blog series on video samples; check it out.

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A Bevy of Application Tips for Your JPMorgan Chase Grant

Did you miss the application seminar for the JPMorgan Chase Capacity Regrant program?

BAC Grants Manager Morgan Lindsey Tachco lays out the basics of the program and some application tips.

Focused on capacity-building, this is funding opportunity is unique to the field and important for small Brooklyn-based arts orgs.  This info is for those of you who missed an application seminar, or need a refresher as you complete your application.  Download the program guidelines to refer to as you read on, and please reach out to me with any questions you have at any stage of the process!

–  Morgan,

The Basics
Brooklyn-based arts organizations can ask for between $2,000 and $3,000 for a specified capacity building project to take place during the calendar year 2014. Some important things to know off the bat:

  • Funding proposals need to be for a specific capacity building project, not for general operating expenses.
  • Other excluded projects are: capital maintenance or improvement, seed funding, admin or major equipment costs unrelated to the proposed project and artistic projects.
  • Project expenses must be spent in 2014.

Organization Eligibility
501c3 organizations must be Brooklyn-based, and:

Arts must be at the core of their mission – no social service, religious or community orgs, sorry!

  • Serve a Brooklyn audience – just having a Brooklyn address doesn’t cut it.
  • In existence for at least 3 years
  • Have an operating budget of under $500,000.

Organizations that meet the above requirements but are past grantees behind on their final reporting or have received funding from this program for three years in a row are ineligible to apply. If you’re unsure about your eligibility, shoot us an email and let us know.

Projects: what this program funds
This funding is for specific capacity building projects; here’s a break-down of eligible proposals in three categories:

Marketing and Promotion
Projects that help build awareness of your organization, your mission and/or your specific programs.

Organizational Development
Projects that help stabilize or increase the sustainability of your organization.

Technological Expansion
Projects that help your organization improve its use of technology.

In any category, the panel wants to see that you are proposing a project that will have specific deliverables and will clearly be a step forward in the expansion and long-term sustainability of your org.  Some things to keep in mind:

–          This funder is a financial institution; if they can see that you’re thinking about or making a case for the bottom line, that’s really helpful.

  • Do your research. For example: If you’re hiring a consultant, know who you’re hiring or show that you have a few people in mind. If you’re buying new hardware or software, include quotes that you’ve gathered.
  • Any expenses for admin time need to be directly related to the project; don’t leave the panel thinking, “general operating.”
  • The panel does try to fund these projects fully, but showing a diversity of project income is always beneficial.

Check out the examples of successful applications in the JPMC guidelines. If you have a project in mind that is not included in the guidelines, please reach out to me to discuss the project’s eligibility. For a full list of what makes a project ineligible, please refer to the guidelines.

Funding decisions
Staff from both JPMorgan Chase and Brooklyn Arts Council bring together a volunteer panel of executive and development directors from Brooklyn organizations to review these applications.

This panel is looking for applications that clearly define the impact that the proposed project will have on the organization and its ability to further their mission. They want to see the organization’s engagement with their Brooklyn community and how this project would help them serve their constituents. It’s important that they see a clearly defined ability to plan, implement and evaluate this project; they want to know that it will be realistically completed.  Overall, BAC asks that the projects they are funding reflect the diversity of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods and artistic disciplines. You can find an outline of the review criteria in the guidelines.

How to Apply
All of our applications must be completed online. Submissions must be in hard copy, either hand-delivered or postmarked no later than Thursday, November 21.

You’ll find the online application and all supplemental materials available for download on the JPMorgan Chase section of our website.  Some things to keep in mind:

  • Look closely at the application components we require as outlined on page 5 of the guidelines, especially the supplemental materials.
  • Do not send artistic work samples! They will not be sent to panel or returned to you.
  • Do not submit your organizational budget in place of your proposed project budget. We’re sorry, but that will make you ineligible.
  • Funding notification is sent out early February, and funding will be released Late-March.

Good luck! If you have any questions about this program or the process for applying, contact us at