Racial Equity and Creative Healing (REACH) through the arts grant awards

$426,000 awarded to 13 projects led by local artists and creatives.

New Haven, CT (Sept. 8, 2022) – Cultural festivals, community healing gardens, theater and youth poetry are among 13 projects receiving grant funding from the Racial Equity and Creative Healing through the Arts (REACH) program. The grants were recently awarded by a community-based advisory committee organized by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. The Community Foundation is funding the grant program.

The REACH program’s purpose is to support community and neighborhood art projects that create cultural experiences centered on racial justice, collective healing and youth development. This is the second group of artists and organizations funded by the REACH grant. Seventeen awards were made in 2021. See the 2021 awards here.

A three-story mural painted by Kwadwo Adae on the side of a women’s shelter in New Haven was funded by a 2021 REACH grant. Photo Credit: Olivia Gross, New Haven Independent

“The committee members were excited that there were so many new diverse projects and that all the projects are doing really important work in the community,” said Arts Council Development Director Megan Manton. “Art is an avenue for healing. Centering Black and Brown led creative projects that bring joy to the community through the arts is a way to bring about healing.”

The projects receiving awards represent a wide range of mediums. Two healing gardens received funding, along with an event celebrating hair design and cosmetology. REACH grants are also supporting several cultural festivals, including a Black literary festival, the Caribbean Heritage Festival and El Dia de Los Muertos Parade.

Given the recent impact of the pandemic on youth mental health, Manton said the committee was focused on finding projects that supported youth, awarding a grant to the youth writing program run by The Word.

“There are so many great projects,” Manton said. “The REACH program is unique because by working in partnership with The Community Foundation, the Arts Council can work with individual creatives who are doing amazing work in the community but wouldn’t otherwise receive funding. That’s the key - opening it up to individual artists and creative groups and organizations that don’t have that nonprofit status.”

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is funding the second year of the program through its Stepping Forward initiative, a $26 million commitment to addressing the impact of COVID-19 and advancing racial equity. The Arts Council of Greater New Haven, in partnership with The Foundation, is overseeing the grant process through a volunteer advisory panel comprising artists, art administrators and arts patrons. The panelists include: Diane Brown, Karen Dubois Walton, Daniel Fitzmaurice, Kolton Harris, Adriane Jefferson, Luciana Q. McClure, Tameika Miller, Caroline Smith, Jolyn Walker and Amie Ziner.

Manton said the advisory committee received 81 grant applications and took its time to narrow the selection down to the final 13 awards.

2022 Racial Equity and Creative Healing (REACH) Through the Arts Grant Awards

Armory Community Garden with Joshua Wyrtzen - $21,000

The Armory Community Garden is an urban community garden where everyone works together to cultivate food, friendships and family that nourish and sustain all of us.

Bregamos Community Theater - $42,000

Fortifying Bregamos, a cultural community beacon. Theater renovations and outreach to increase participation in community theater.

Curlfriends in the Park by Luvena Leslie - $22,000

Curlfriends in the Park 2022/2023 is a community festival where people can unite and celebrate what makes them unique. Festival participants with curly/natural hair are celebrated and feel a sense of community.

Death by a Thousand Cuts: A Requiem for Black and Brown Men by Steve Driffin - $42,000

The theatrical performance, Death by a Thousand Cuts: A Requiem for Black and Brown Men candidly unearths the raw experiences of melanated men. Drawing from the joy, pain and the trauma of surviving in America, this is a requiem 400 years in the making.

El Dia de Los Muertos Parade - $42,000

The annual parade is held at the beginning of every November occurring in Fair Haven (central area for immigrant communities, particularly Latino, Caribbean and Indigenous). It celebrates the traditional Mexican holiday which honors and celebrates the life of those who have passed. It continues the Hispanic traditions involved in Dia de Los Muertos as a way to preserve culture and reiterate the important presence of the Latino community in New Haven. The parade is organized by Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA).

KulturallyLIT/ Elm City LITFest - $42,000

KulturallyLIT is an organization created to enhance awareness of the significance of the Arts of the African Diaspora on societal culture. Their goal is to produce Kultural experiences that support and develop opportunities for access to cultural empowerment for Artists of the African Diaspora.

Junteenth New Haven with Kelly Mero – $21,000

Juneteenth New Haven is a fun-filled family day that pays homage to Harlem Renaissance with modern art, music and literature in addition to employment information and health resources - including information on social/emotional health, mental health challenges, LGBTQ + resources and one-on-one college application and essay support by college admission counselors. Plus, resource tables will be available to provide health awareness, employment edification, parenting information and financial literacy.

Movement Building Radio with Luis Luna - $22,500

Movement Building Radio shares the voices of community members involved in grassroots struggles. Mass incarceration and deportation has had a huge impact in our communities and the voices of those who are directly affected are silenced or ignored. This project aims to highlight these inequities and bring power back to our community members who are impacted by these systems.

Najua Sol Flow Garden: A Creative Healing Community Garden by Tiffany J. Fomby - $42,000

A Creative Healing Community Garden is a community garden focused on centering the holistic healing, wellness and resilience of Black women and girl creatives in harmonious community with Black male youth, Black families, and Black men in New Haven and beyond.

New Haven Caribbean Heritage Festival - $22,500

New Haven Caribbean Heritage Festival is an annual celebration that shares the enrichment and joy of Caribbean Nationals with our community through performances, delicious Caribbean cuisine, beautiful displays of islands and colorful costumes. The event is organized by the

New Haven Housing Fund Arts Program - $42,000

New Haven Housing Fund is a group of housed allies in solidarity with people on the street that does ongoing resource collection and redistribution in support of unhoused communities. They will create a year-long slate of arts programming put together by and for people on the street, including and especially queer and trans BIPOC and immigrants, formerly-incarcerated and system-impacted people, survivors of violence and centering femme voices.

Wine Down CT - $22,500

The Wine Down CT is a live music event experience and cultural platform for BIPOC, LGBTQ + and Allies of the community. They partner with local community members, artists and creatives to activate safe spaces for discourse, dialogue wellness and inclusion.

Writing Liberation with The Word - $42,000

Through writing workshops and zines, Writing Liberation helps high school students create and share original poetry, spoken word and rap to break cages built around hearts and people. By writing poems about how their COVID-era emotions can transform, students move from COVID Response into Collective Healing and Joy. By writing spoken word and rap aimed at persuading a person, group, or school to change, Youth Development is the engine that fires a creative push for Racial Justice.

About The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in Connecticut is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the U.S. and was established in 1928 as the permanent charitable endowment for New Haven and its surrounding communities of: Ansonia, Bethany, Branford, Cheshire, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Milford, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge. In 2020, The Foundation began implementing a 5-year strategic plan and enacted new mission and vision statements toward expanding opportunity and equity in Greater New Haven. In 2021, it launched Stepping Forward, a $26 million commitment to addressing the impact of COVID-19 and advancing racial equity. The Foundation’s mission is to inspire, support, inform, listen to and collaborate with the people and organizations of Greater New Haven to build an ever more connected, inclusive, equitable and philanthropic community.

For more than three generations, generous local donors have built The Community Foundation’s endowment by establishing permanent funds or making gifts to existing funds that distribute grants to a broad variety of issues and organizations. These donors, past and present, make their gifts to ensure that programs and causes that matter most to them will be supported today and forever. As of December 31, 2021 The Foundation’s assets were valued at $871 million. For more information about The Foundation visit www.cfgnh.org or follow @cfgnh on facebook and twitter.

About the Arts Council of Greater New Haven

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven has been supporting the region’s creative ecosystem since 1964. We strive to advance Greater New Haven by providing leadership and support to our diverse arts community. We envision a thriving arts community at the heart of Greater New Haven. We believe that art, culture and creativity are fundamental human rights.