Providing grants, programs, and services to the artists and audiences of Tompkins County for over 25 years

Grantee Features

Featured grant recipients listed alphabetically

Jay Leeming

  • Specific Opportunity Stipend
  • Thank you to 2020 CAP Ithaca College Intern Kristen Reid for this feature about Jay! 

    With a background in poetry and podcasting, singer-songwriting and telling stories around a Yosemite campfire, Jay Leeming’s career has been anything but linear. Since being awarded a Specific Opportunity Stipend (SOS) from the Community Arts Partnership in October, Leeming has begun a new series of four performances hosted at The Cherry Artspace and running from January through April 2020.  

    After years of working as a poet, Leeming sought a change. “I realized I was missing some things about [storytelling at Yosemite],” he said. “I was missing the interaction with an audience, and also the music!” 

    “I woke up to storytelling consciously as an adult, hearing the stories being told in a way to a group of adults where you can listen deeply and then connect with each other.”

    Entitled “Dreaming the Stone,” Leeming’s performances at The Cherry are unique and engaging; he tells traditional stories in a new way, tying together his passions for poetry, storytelling, and music performance. 

    Standing in front of the audience, Leeming performs with no costumes or fancy lighting, or anything you may expect from a typical live performance. Instead, he has enlisted the help of a few friends to perform background music while he takes center stage. 

    When I met with Leeming, I was curious how he chose which stories to tell. He says he chooses traditional stories because they “go beyond the rational … there’s magic and a way to connect to our Earth.” He went on to say he loves art and theater, “but these stories are a way to heal the community and to deal with crisis.” 

    These ancient stories are ones that Leeming feels are a part of our collective human history. He even began his performance of Arabian Nights with a disclaimer: this was not a story that belonged to him. In fact, it belonged to no one and everyone.

    With the SOS grant he was awarded by Community Arts Partnership, Leeming was able to bring his art from classrooms and libraries to a new space, one that feels “more active and more performance-based.” 

    In early 2020, he told the stories of Persephone, Queen of The Underworld and Arabian Nights which were “very much a success, we had [around] 50 people at one of the performances!” His next show is in mid-March when he’ll take on the Epic of Gilgamesh. 

    To support Jay Leeming and find further details on his “Dreaming the Stone” series funded in part by Community Arts Partnership, visit his website at today!




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