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ArtsWestchester Launches New Social Justice Artist Grant

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ArtsWestchester Launches New Social Justice Artist Grant
Artist proposals being accepted through April 5, 2021

White Plains, N.Y. (February 16, 2021)—ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam today announced the launch of a major new competitive artist grant program, Voices for Change, in which three artists each will be awarded grants of $10,000 to propose and actualize new works.

Voices for Change is the inaugural program in a series of new initiatives that the organization is undertaking as part of its rededication to the social justice ideals of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility.

“ArtsWestchester has a long history of supporting historically under-represented communities,” says Board member and Social Justice Committee member Dr. LaRuth Gray. “We want to ensure that our programming continues to respond to the people we serve, especially our immigrant, racial, ethnic and communities of African descent.  We want to listen more closely to—and honor the expressions of—diverse voices in our community. Voices for Change is one way to focus on concerns of equity.”

Mid-Hudson Valley artists working in all disciplines are invited to submit proposals for visionary work that encourages deep thinking about complex issues such as social justice, civic equity and the public good. A unique aspect of the program is that proposals are asked to include a collaboration with a service or cultural community-based organization.

Three artists each will receive a grant of $10,000 to implement and present their vision. Proposals may address a broad range of issues, including but not limited to incarceration, homelessness or racial equity. The deadline for application is April 5. Application details are posted at the Voices for Change webpage.

Board member and Voices for Change Committee member Betty Himmel says: “ArtsWestchester’s exhibition and performance programs are deeply rooted in the belief that art has the power to illuminate complex issues, encourage civic discourse and open the community to new ways of thinking. In past programs, ArtsWestchester has explored themes such as the new immigrant experience, gender identity, voting rights, the expanded definition of family, the age of data, and the economic crisis of 2008.”

The debut of the Voices for Change artworks will come on the heels of ArtsWestchester’s fall exhibition Who Writes History? a National Endowment for the Arts supported project that seeks to bring marginalized stories to the fore through contemporary art. ArtsWestchester plans to announce additional social justice initiatives throughout the coming months.

These initiatives represent, in part, expanded funding opportunities for artists and organizations, and public programs that will be rolled out during 2021. The Voices for Change grant initiative is made possible through contributions from board members and the Kathwari Foundation.

Ethan Allen CEO and ArtsWestchester board member Farooq Kathwari says: “This grant that supports new artistic work comes at a critical time for creatives, when so many independent artists are unemployed as a result of the pandemic. The Voices for Change grant acknowledges that art can serve as a catalyst for change.”

In the summer of 2020, ArtsWestchester began working with a well-known consultant in the field of racial equity and inclusion, Donna Walker-Kuhne, who had previously worked with ArtsWestchester to develop its diversity policy in 2005. As an organization, ArtsWestchester is well on its way toward reframing its mission, rededicating itself to the social justice principals of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in all of its programs, and launching seven new initiatives in the coming year.

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About ArtsWestchester

For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest, private, not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to provide leadership, vision, and support, to ensure the availability, accessibility, and diversity of the arts. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations, and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building in downtown White Plains.

Contact: Ernie Garcia, Thompson & Bender, 914-844-3780 or [email protected]