Awards announced for local artists of color to advance racial justice

January 20th 2021

Seven community artists and arts organizations have each been awarded a $75,000 grant to be distributed over three years. Grants will support artist and organizational endeavors to advance racial justice as part of the Radical Imagination Fund. The Radical Imagination Fund is a $900K investment in the vision and efforts of Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) artists and BIPOC-led organizations working in all disciplines and mediums. The fund is developed and organized by the Transforming Power Fund (TPF) and made possible by the generosity and financial support of the Surdna Foundation. 

The Radical Imagination Fund supports artists and organizations based in TPF’s focus areas, Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Detroit, prioritizing those practicing their work through cultural organizing, working towards justice at the intersection of arts and activism. As part of this vision, individual artists selected for the award will partner with a community-led organization based in Highland Park, Hamtramck, or Detroit to realize their project with the involvement of their community. 

Awardees were selected by the Transforming Fund’s Community Table, a decision-making body composed of local community artists, healers, organizers, activists, and leaders. The Community Table allows for a community-led grant-making process, where the decision-making body is representative of the diverse communities and issues areas TPF funds. 

Applicants were required to demonstrate a history as a practicing artist, sustained commitment to their work, and at least three years experience in cultural organizing and community organizing work. Transforming Power Fund and their Community Table are excited to support projects with a focus on advancing racial justice, challenging those who engage to explore new and visionary possibilities towards realizing and experiencing a racially just future. Projects will move forward intentionally in order to remain accountable and responsive to the needs of their community. Projects will run through October 2023. Awardees were selected based on the quality of their work, demonstrated commitment to actively communicating with and involving the community in their efforts, and their vision and project plan.

2020 Radical Imagination Fund Awardees:

  • Adela Nieves Martinez, Storyteller & Mixed Media Maker 
  • Bryce Detroit, Music Artist, Storyteller, Activist, Pioneer in Entertainment Justice 
  • Owolabi William Copeland, MC & Cultural Organizer
  • Rosa Maria Zamarrón, Documentary Photographer
  • Sherina Sharpe, Chace Morris, The TETRA
  • Sidewalk Detroit, Curator
  • Wisdom Institute, Curator, Interdisciplinary 

Awardee projects vary widely, with a shared overarching theme of envisioning racial justice and empowering BIPOC communities within Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Detroit. The TETRA, a project led by Sherina Sharpe and Chace Morris, is a digital freedom school for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Radically Accompliced people of all ages. The goals of the digital community space are to provide ritual and healing space for survivors of White Supremacist Patriarchy and to unlearn oppression through ritual.  

Adela Nieves Martinez will be leading Culture Reclaim/Reclamar Cultura, a cultural program to build long-term relationships between Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities by sharing traditional dance, instruments, and medicine amongst each other. The program will built its foundation through research, mapping, and building connection, evolving over three years into shared collaborative and shared story circles, dance parties, and skillshares within community.

Awardees will be a part of a cohort, and will receive professional development opportunities which may include trainings in areas such as fundraising/grant-writing, fiscal management and marketing. Artists will also have the opportunity to incorporate community-centered research into their project. In partnership with the Highlander Center, applicants will have the opportunity to conduct collaborative, community-centered inquiry about arts and racial justice in their own communities. This opportunity will provide 1-2 projects with additional funding for a Participatory Action Researcher. Additional opportunities and support, however, will be emergent and tailored to the specific needs of the artist cohort.

The Transforming Power Fund joins a diverse cohort of 11 regranting partners, which are national and regional in focus, and include several learning clusters of organizations attempting to impact prevailing inequities in arts grantmaking in specific ways. Among the clusters are organizations focused on the U.S. South, local cross-sector partnerships between municipal governments and local arts nonprofits, and culturally specific intermediaries serving Latinx and Indigenous communities.

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