SOS Grant & Story House Ithaca!
Posted May 27, 2021
Story House Ithaca is a new organization dedicated to fostering community in Ithaca and making a space for people to come together to make and share stories. The organization hosts and organizes events of all sorts surrounding mediums of storytelling as varied as poetry, photography, and puppetry. Story House aims to bring together Ithacans of all interests and backgrounds and make a space for them to explore and celebrate the wonderful world of storytelling that this city offers.
Story House Ithaca received a Community Arts Partnerhship “Specific Opportunity Stipend” (SOS) for its inaugural project, Pandemic Dreams: A Post-Covid Fantasy. Pandemic Dreams was a community-sourced video project and event with the theme of life after the pandemic. Organizers encouraged participants to “unquarantine their imaginations” and send in short videos for this event.
The event showing off the videos submitted for Pandemic Dreams took place on April 21, 2021, on Zoom, in true pandemic fashion. A few of the contributors were Story House Ithaca’s very own organizer, Lesley Greene; professional puppeteer, Scott Hitz; the world’s coolest ten-year-old, Ian F.; and many other local and not-so-local people seeking to showcase their creativity.
Though varied in their styles, each video sought to express the hopes and fears for what life will hold after the pandemic. Story House Ithaca hoped for contributors to take what can sometimes seem like an all-consuming present and set it aside to look towards the future. This event sought to make a space for people to explore their feelings as the light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic comes into view, whether those feelings are good, bad, or funny.
The SOS Grant allowed Story House Ithaca to establish a Zoom Pro account that was necessary to host Pandemic Dreams. The account will continue to be used to host future events for the organization. They also used the grant for video editing on the project itself and to help get their website up and running.
Story House Ithaca is grateful to CAP for making their first official event one to remember and opening the door for them to continue to put on great events for the community. All the videos submitted for the Pandemic Dreams project can be found on Story House Ithaca’s YouTube. Story House Ithaca’s next event will be at Stewart Park on July 4, 2021, for the park’s 100th anniversary. They will have a booth open for people to document their memories in video, telling their own stories on this special day.
Story House has other events in the works to be announced soon but would like to hear from anyone who has an idea for an event. There’s a form on their website to contact them about collaborations, help in hosting an event, or even ideas for the kinds of events you want to see more of in Ithaca.
For more information about Story House Ithaca, check out their website and Facebook page: https://www.storyhouseithaca.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/StoryHouseIthaca/.
Posted May 1, 2021
The Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County (LCA) is a volunteer organization that unites the Latinx community of Tompkins County and provides a platform for cultural, social, educational, and civic expression. Members strive to strengthen Latinx identity and promote solidarity, cultural pride, and civic engagement.
The LCA has been receiving the “Grants for Art Programs” (GAP) grants for several years now in order to fund their annual ¡CULTURA Ithaca! events.
These events help to share Latinx culture with the Ithaca community through easily accessible arts-based educational events. The project was founded in 2010 by Carolina Osorio Gil and Debra A. Castillo, who wanted to address the lack of Latinx art, culture, and educational activities in Tompkins County.
¡CULTURA Ithaca! is led by three co-directors: Azucena Campos López who is a clinical psychologist and dancer, Enrique González-Conty who is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Ithaca College, and Paulina Velázquez who is a Lecturer in the Department of Art at Ithaca College and a multimedia artist. The co-directors and a number of volunteers will present arts programs during Latinx Heritage Month.
The Cine con CULTURA Latinx American Film Festival is a program that started five years ago and has grown very popular. The event is programed by festival director Enrique González-Conty in collaboration with Cinemapolis, Cornell Cinema, the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition, No más lágrimas/No more tears, the Multicultural Resource Center, FLEFF, Ithaca College, Cornell University, among other organizations, to share and celebrate Latinx filmmaking. The film festival is sponsored by several programs and departments at Ithaca College and Cornell University as well.
The Latinx Art Exhibition is currently curated by Paulina Velázquez. This is one of the latest major events at ¡CULTURA! Where several Latinx artists from Tompkins County have shown their work. The public has had overwhelmingly positive responses to the event, that the last two exhibits where asked that they extend the show for another month. Just as last year, the exhibition will take place both in person and online in order for people to enjoy the show from the comfort of their own homes, and different parts of the globe
The latest major event at ¡CULTURA Ithaca! is a Dance Performance. Choreographed by Azucena Campos López, several dance pieces are celebrated as “a central element in the everyday life of Latin American countries. It is a reflection of the history and traditions of every country, one of the strongest key elements of their identity.” The event will feature traditional dance numbers from different regions in Latin America as community members share their heritage through dance during Latinx Heritage month.
Through ¡CULTURA! Ithaca, the LCA hopes to share and represent Latinx and Latin American stories, enriching the cultural landscape not only for the Latinx community in Tompkins County, but for anyone who wishes to learn about Latinx and Latin American cultures. For more information visit: https://www.culturaithaca.com/ and https://www.lca-of-tc.org/
Posted March 23, 2021
Kenneth McLaurin is a stand-up comedian, storyteller, screenwriter, actor, poet, producing and performing artist who has been awarded several of CAP’s grants over the past year. He calls himself “The Funniest Person You’ve Never Heard Of,” but his recent projects and productions, as well as being named Ithaca’s Best Comedian, have seen him gaining more well-deserved attention.
In such a politically driven world, Kenneth sees comedy as both a way to escape the turmoil around us as well as dissect the issues: “Some people like to use comedy to get away from the mundane things in their life, but other people, they like humor as a way to engage and critique politics. Satire is humor and it’s critical. They say, historically, the court jester was the one that could really say the things that other people couldn’t.
Last October, Kenneth received funding from CAP’s SOS Grant (Specific Opportunity Stipend) to create a short film, The So You Think You’re Anti-Racist Competition, as well as promotional material for the project, including a theatrical trailer. He is shooting the film at the Kitchen Theatre, under social distance regulations, and will screen it as part of the Kitchen Sink series. Kenneth has also partnered with local movie theatre Cinemapolis to have a limited theatrical release. This will be Kenneth’s first time pushing a project beyond local live performances, taking the work to film and preparing for sale and distribution. Creating a marketing campaign for the film on social media will allow Kenneth to extend the reach of his work past his local community to entertain new audiences.
The So You Think You’re Anti-Racist Competition will explore themes relevant to today’s culture and social movements: “I really want to explore the idea of what anti-racism is, what allyship is, and let people look at what’s going on from a black person’s point of view. With what's going on in the world, especially in ithaca, allyship is really big and people are into bettering themselves and becoming allies. I think its interesting to see allyship and being woke and being a good person in general, and make a competition out of it. I think its a good method to show the funny ways that people approach allyship.”
Kenneth also received a GAP Grant (Grants for Arts Programs) through the non-profit he works for as an educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension, for the All Black Everything Arts Festival (ABE). ABE is a four day virtual festival that celebrates the stories of Black Americans through their art. Both local and national black artists come together to share their art and experiences as black artists with the Tompkins County Community. Each day showcases a different artistic genre: music, performative and literary arts, visual works, and arts and wellness. All the attending artists are recognized in the art world, whether that be national acclaim or local recognition. The festival was hosted online and was totally virtual.
Through Cooperative Extension again, Kenneth received another GAP Grant for his project, Ithaca is Black People Too, a virtual community show that showcases Ithaca’s rich Black history and culture. Kenneth, along with his wife Elbonee “SingTrece” McLaurin, perform as Singing Notes and Slinging Jokes, a performing artist couple where Kenneth works his comedic magic while SingTrece sings with her gorgeous and powerful voice. The duo perform, produce, and record the show, which was created through community generated and original music, poems, and stories that will focus on Ithaca and diversity in an uplifting manner. Using the Kitchen Theatre to record the show, Kenneth and SingTrece would premiere it across different social media and digital accounts online. They would then go on to release it across Tompkins county by providing it to multiple social organizations who would also post it online.
The last grant Kenneth received was an Arts Education Grant for Stories From Not Old People. Kenneth, along with Chris Holmes, the founder and creative director of Little Whale Productions, will be working with a small group of high school students to teach them digital storytelling. Through 6 workshops over the course of 8 weeks, Kenneth and Chris will help the students learn how to share their own stories through the use of technology. The theme for this project is 2020, as it was a year like no other, and the participants will create 2-5 minute digital stories exploring their experiences. Through this project, the two teachers wish to make students feel empowered and confident in their voice and recognize they can be an instrument for change.
Kenneth is grateful to CAP for helping him reach new audiences and pursue his goals of empowering his community: “For me specifically, CAP helps me connect with an audience that wouldn't really find me otherwise. As a local black comedian, most of the people who are affiliated with CAP wouldn't have been able to find me without promotion. Through their social media feeds, they probably don't have much information on black comedians with smaller followings. But CAP helps me to present my art and my story, these experiences as a black person living in Ithaca, to a wider audience. They’re also great in helping me to connect with funders who see me as worthy as one of the many nonprofit theatres and want to help me create more stuff!"
Posted Feb. 24, 2021
For many years, the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) has been awarded CAP grants for multiple programs.
In 2021 alone, GIAC received funding from CAP's SOS grant, Arts Education Grant and Artist in Community Grant for their senior breakfast arts programming, after school programs, and more!
Whether it is studying different cultures from around the globe, training in several forms of dance, or learning technical skills for stage productions, the participants in GIAC’s projects have gained confidence and opened themselves up to new fields of interest. Despite restrictions due to COVID-19, the GIAC staff has done incredible work to ensure that the students in these programs will get the most out of their experiences. With community events being cancelled and limits on transporting GIAC participants, GIAC has turned to providing community performances virtually.
The GIAC Jumpers is a group of 2nd-5th grader students who engage in African Dance and Drumming Cultural Exchange through dance, jump and step. The youth participants are taught African Dance, Tap Dance, Hip Hop, Jump Rope, and Step over the course of the school year and during the summer . The students learn about black culture, and world cultures through art.
Watch a video of the Jumpers HERE!
The program was first founded in 2015 by GIAC staff member Jackie Green, who is the Program Leader for the GIAC Jumpers. Fellow GIAC staff member Candice Wade joins Jackie as the Program Assistant 2021. Collaborating with Nana Kwasi Anim, the founder of Wassa PanAfrika Dance Ensemble, has developed an on-going relationship with the Jumpers over the years and joins them as a master African Drumming and African Dance instructor.
Dance and other physical forms of expression are important to maintain in the time of social distancing. According to Ms. Greene, " I feel like dance and all forms of self expression/ reflection are more important now than ever before. The GIAC Jumper program helps our youth grow and become ambassadors and change makers. Advancing their knowledge and life skills, helping with mental, physical and spiritual health. Now more than ever people yearn to feel connected since we have to socially distance. Dancing is a way to feel apart of a bigger community while also allowing your body the ability to express our deep inner emotions, not to mention the physical fitness/calorie burn with dance, Jump rope, and STEP."
Elizabeth Seldin, a graduate of Ithaca College’s Theater Arts Program and the co-owner of Clockmaker Arts, acts as the Tap Dance and Theater Specialist for the Jumpers in 2021. Elizabeth will also help create a virtual performance of a play called The Hope Project, performed by the Jumpers.
Through dance, song, scenes, movement and spoken word, The Hope Project explores themes like: “How do we look at the soul and not the skin without ignoring covert and overt racism," My truth needs to be heard we are stronger together," and’ “How do we have conversations about race with kids and explore that between adults.” Ms. Greene "believes the theme of The Hope Project is relevant to today given the times we are currently in. With people socially distancing, isolating, and being left alone with their thoughts & truths it really makes inequality, inequity, and injustice stand out more. The Hope Project aims to mitigate that with a glass half full mindset, in a time of despair we call on the youth to use their voices and shed light on what the future could be! Using their talents and skills to identify these issues with suggestions so we can together develop a plan and create change as a community."
Also funded are the GIAC STEAM Team Theatre, short plays performed by 2nd-5th grade students who not only act, sing, and dance, but also control the behind the scenes and technical aspects of the show. This program was led in 2020 by GIAC staff member Courtney McGuire who worked alongside the director of Running 2 Places Theater and the lead theater consultant for the STEAM team, Joey Steinhagen. Janet Olsen, a volunteer with Running 2 Places Theater also assisted with theater education.
The STEAM Team had students focus on learning science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts to expose them to the world of theater. Two teams of participants, one for the performers and another for the production members, worked together to put on performances with positive community messages! Ms. McGuire shared "Receiving the CAP Grant to fund our STEAM TEAM productions has made it possible for GIAC to purchase quality scripts for age-appropriate productions and content. Having the ability to provide kids with a non-athletic outlet for their creative energies has enabled many of them to learn, grow and flourish. Youth who struggled with reading have gained confidence in their abilities by learning their lines and working with the other actors. Kids that enjoyed the technical aspects found their home running lights and sound and assisting with event marketing."
A brand new funded program introduced by GIAC celebrates Cultural Heritage Months through Virtual Art. Jay Stooks, a GIAC Program Coordinator and professional artist, created and supervises this pre-teen project for 2021 in order to promote art education and expand their cultural awareness through art, music, food, history, and more. The cultural heritage months being celebrated in this project include: Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Chinese Lunar New Year Month, Asian History Month, and several others. This program will cater towards pre-teens from 6th-8th grade and will provide them with an understanding of many world cultures. It will help students create art on their own and learn how to teach others about different cultures through virtual platforms.
Kerry Phillips, GIAC Deputy Director says "It is essential that GIAC provides quality cultural arts programming through its School-year and Summer Camp programs as many participants are unable to afford to take extracurricular lessons elsewhere due to financial constraints many families experience. By developing arts programming at GIAC we ensure our youth receive an enriching arts experience and outcomes providing for physical activity, art exploration, self-development, study of cultures, and learn to use art as a vehicle to share their voices and perspectives."
Posted January 20, 2020
Mee Ae Caughey has received quite a few grants from CAP over the years in support of her career as a local dancer, choreographer, video artist, and producer of shows! She uses art as an engine to empower and bring visibility to marginalized communities, and serves as a dance documentarian for local dance performances to share with audiences via online streaming.
And that’s just what she did in collaboration with local dancer, professor, and producer Jim Self with “Visceral,” five outdoor solo dance performances that were video recorded and edited by Mee Ae, and prominent local filmmaker Marilyn Rivchin.
Each solo performer/choreographer (Kathy Lucas, Amanda Moretti, Indira White, Megan Nicole, and Lauren Cranidiotis) performed at an outdoor location of their choosing with a small audience of 2-4 people, also of their choosing. Not only will this have a great impact on the audience (both in-person and virtual), but also on the dancers themselves.
Mee Ae: “Visceral will help to re-establish that important connection between performer and audience in a safe way, and also give the dancers a space to release and express the emotions they have been experiencing throughout this time, in a safe space created by people they trust. Having filmed 3 episodes already, I can attest to the fact that this experience has meant a great deal to the dancers and the audience – tears were shed, and much gratitude and joy was expressed by everyone for this opportunity.”
The videos are streamed in collaboration with The Cherry Arts at https://www.thecherry.org/visceral/. At the time of the writing of this article, three episodes are available for viewing (free!) and two are upcoming. You’ll also find information about each performance and performer, and interviews with some of the artists.
Available to View Now: Episode 1, “Kintsugi” with Kathy Lucas / Episode 2, “Traveler” with Amanda Moretti / and Episode 3, “Reflections” with Indira White. February 19th, Megan Nicole and March 19, Lauren Cranidiotis.
The SOS Grant and the Impact To Mee Ae’s career
SOS is designed to help artists with costs associated with opportunities that will impact their professional career. “Visceral” introduced Mee Ae to collaborations with new artists, connections with The Cherry Arts folks, and the ability to pay the participating artists and production staff properly.
“This is the first time I have really used video so heavily in a production, primarily due to the virtual nature of this time, but also due to my increased interest in documenting dance. This project has served to clarify even further how I would like to video dancers in the future, which would be more of a duet between camera and dancer, and less of strictly documenting a performance. It is also proving very useful in helping me to learn a lot more about video production, and increasing my interest in acquiring more professional equipment for future productions."
Visit Mee Ae Caughey’s website
The next SOS grant deadline will be in March and available on our grant page!
Posted October 1, 2020
SOS Grant - The Cherry Arts
Shortly after all live productions were shut down due to the pandemic, the Artistic Director of The Cherry Arts, Sam Buggeln, asked six writers from around the world to collaborate on Felt Sad, Posted a Frog (and other streams of global quarantine). These collaborations were then live-streamed by thirteen members of The NY Cherry Artists’ Collective from May 1-9, 2020.
Sam described the experience as “truly intense.” When approaching potential playwrights, reactions ran the gamut from “Some people being very enthusiastic, exchanging emails in multiple languages at once, all grateful to be asked to do something in these turbulent times. On the other end of the spectrum, one French writer was under the extremely stringent lockdown in Paris in a 300 square foot flat with a spouse and toddler—they said they’d love to do it but just couldn’t in these conditions. In the end, the collection of pieces was a wonderful cross-section of people’s experiences.”
“We completed a lot of preparation and researched a lot of options to see what was possible. We ended up using a Skype-based platform working with 13 actors, 2 stage managers, 1 director and 1 video director. Noah Elman mixed everything on OBS and was truly amazing, adding filters for the different stories and mapping out screen placement. Some of the actors took to it like ducks to water, while others found it quite stressful to now be working with technological issues that they had never before tackled. This tremendously complicated set-up came together in the end to allow our 6 playwrights to reflect the immediacy of this moment. And the SOS grant and CAP’s support were really integral to the success of this project.”
“The piece threw everything into dialogue, juxtaposing the funny and brittle side of the pandemic with the anxiety, sadness, and terror. We had incredible feedback, with many people saying they were so moved they were riveted to their chairs. We also reached a worldwide audience, selling tickets in China, Japan, Latin America, and Europe. In fact, we sold slightly more tickets than we would have for the show that was regularly planned at that time. We also gave some tickets away in places like San Salvador where the cost of living and salaries are so vastly different. We were cited in Time Out New York both weekends as a Best Bet for Streaming, and the NYC-based blogs gave us very positive press.”
“We were emboldened by the success of Felt Sad, Posted a Frog and we will be doing two more live-streamed shows this fall.” These can be found on the website: A Day, a new play from Québec, and Hotel Good Luck, from one of Mexico’s most-celebrated young writers. Looking forward, Buggeln says he is not sure The Cherry will continue live-streamed theater after the pandemic—it introduces a lot of new factors to juggle, but at the same time, the international reach is exciting. Either way, CAP is happy to have been able to support the truly innovative Felt Sad, Posted a Frog in the spring.
Posted August 19, 2020
GAP Grant - Women Artists Have Their Say
Women Artists Have Their Say is the brainchild of artist Sue Perlgut, director and producer with CloseToHome Productions. With the assistance of CAP's "Grants for Arts Programs" (GAP Grant), Sue and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, a poet and professor, are collaborating to create a film that centers the experiences of female artists. The two are also working with singer-songwriter Jai Hari Myerhoff, who is writing original music for the film.
“Whether it is art, crafts, music, written works, or choreographed dances, extraordinary women know that the process of creating is as important as what ultimately gets created,” Perlgut says. “There is a need to document women’s voices in this century in recognition of the fact that earlier histories took little account of women’s experience.”
Sue herself has been an artist for most of her life, dipping between theater directing, play writing, and film. In the making of Women Artists Have Their Say, over 35 women have shared their experiences as artists in video form. Even more have provided testimony through a survey. “My work has always been very inclusive and continues to be so,” Perlgut says.
The project challenges social ideas of art and gender. Women Artists Have Their Say captures the voices of women and preserves their essence in time, for future artists to come. The artists work in a range of genres, unrestrained to any particular medium or style.
Although the pandemic has affected production, Sue has adapted her process. Some of her artists have chosen to film themselves; this evolved into an interesting new directing process for Sue herself. “The videotaping is almost complete, and the self-tapers are sending me their videos as they finish them.” Sue says. “I had a lot of fun creating how-to videos for those taping on their phones and computers.”
“The original project was a multi-media film/reading that was to be shown in Cinemapolis, with live readings and live music.” Sue says. “The film will now be online with the readings from the survey as part of the film, as well as the music.”
Sue features artists on her website (http://closetohomeproductions.com/womenartistshavetheirsay/ ). This is also where people can find information about the final film. Sue also posts video clips of the project to a Facebook page to elevate the voices of female artists. (https://www.facebook.com/WomensWisdomPlay)
(Thank you to CAP's Ithaca College intern Nicole Brokaw for researching and writing this article!)
Posted July 18, 2020
SOS Grant - Public Art Transforms
In February, Caleb R. Thomas, the Ithaca Murals organizer, and Southside Community Center's Board President, Dr. Nia Nunn, facilitated a 40-person jury which selected finalists for Ithaca Mural's annual Justice Walls mural project. These public art projects aim to creatively inspire and uplift passerby. Recently, CAP caught up with Caleb to discuss the recent SOS grant Ithaca Murals received for this endeavor.
“It’s an exciting and complicated time to be alive in Ithaca - with virus and economic instability rocking business as usual. The virus present in Tompkins County means murals are going up slower than we had originally anticipated. We are grateful for the artists who have painted 6 murals so far and there's so much coming with August and September always being our busiest months." ((Pictured: Terrance Vann and Keyanna Mozie painting the new "Still We Rise" Mural by Norma Gutierrez)
“We believe in an arts & culture strategy for justice-movement organization and community building, helping society form more progressive values to better line up with justice. The 20 finalists selected are incredibly skilled visionaries. Three-quarters of the are artists of color - which is important righ now as we work to end racism in our community.
“CAP’s SOS grant has helped support artist stipends and mural supplies, and will also go towards producing our free mural maps. We are very appreciative of CAP investing in individual artists and artist groups, particularly ones that support artists of color and other traditionally marginalized identities.
“Every vibrant mural shifts the dominant paradigm in a powerful way. Imagine our children growing up with images of people who look like them, streets decked with art depicting the struggles and joys that reflect our diverse families, justice movements etched into our walls as central to our ongoing liberation stories. Now more than ever we are called to contradict the oppressions of the past in all mediums, to dream the world we want to live in. Public art is free and a muse for the freedom of the public.”
To learn more about Ithaca Murals, check out #ithacamurals or www.ithacamurals.com