By Bernie Petit
An overlooked community is ready to become more visible in Charlotte-Mecklenburg thanks to an Arts & Science Council (ASC) Cultural Project Grant.
ASC recently awarded its second round of Cultural Project Grants to cultural organizations and community agencies. The grants provide support for projects that increase access to arts, science, history/heritage experiences and strengthen the quality of cultural programming in Mecklenburg County neighborhoods and towns.
Twenty-eight groups will receive grants ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 this grant cycle. A total of $119,150 in funding will support projects in every Mecklenburg County district.
Among the recipients is the Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC), established in 2011 to address the needs of the Southeast Asian population in Mecklenburg County and the surrounding areas.
SEAC will receive $5,000 to support a digital storytelling project for Southeast Asian youth to visually and creatively share their experiences as refugees coming of age in Charlotte and the trials of balancing two cultures.
“This is so symbolic for us,” SEAC executive director Cat Bao Le said of the organizations’ first project grant.
The Southeast Asian community struggles with having visibility, she said.
“This makes us feel less invisible.”
The challenges facing the Southeast Asian community sometimes get lost when they are only considered as part of the larger Asian American community, Le said.
But many of the Southeast Asian students SEAC serves struggle with poverty and education, said program director Thanh-Thu Luong.
“Southeast Asian students are truly newcomers,” Luong said. “Most of them have only been here for a few years and are trying to adjust to this new country they’re in. Some of them came from refugee camps and hadn’t seen anything other than their refugee camp experience.”
SEAC’s digital storytelling project will help local Southeast Asian middle and high school students connect with their cultural identity while raising awareness in the larger community of the challenges they face and the successes they achieve.
Beginning in January, students will work with SEAC resident artist Yash Mori and other community mentors to create mini-documentaries on how they see their lives.
The documentaries will be presented for public viewings at the Levine Museum of the New South and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus later in the year.
“A lot of the students we’re working with come from immigrant families,” Mori said. “They have similar struggles to the Latino communities, the African American communities, all these different communities.
“Through these digital storytelling projects, they will realize how it all ties together.”
Here is the latest round of Cultural Project Grant recipients:
Cornelius Youth Orchestra – $5,000
To provide a education based, instrumental music full orchestral program in the North Mecklenburg community for youth musicians ages 6 – 18.
North Mecklenburg Community Chorus Inc. – $4,700
To produce a spring show of the North Mecklenburg Community Chorus that will include a variety of artistic numbers: choral singing; comedy skits; dance; guests musicians and more.
Music at St. Alban’s – $5,000
The Music at St. Alban’s Concert Series provides opportunities for people in the North Mecklenburg region to hear a set of diverse world-class concerts in a warm and inviting venue.
Taproot Ensemble – $5,000
Tour original devised performance work, Ophelos, throughout northern Mecklenburg County after community-based collaboration during final phase of development.
Jazz Arts Initiative – $5,000
To provide a 12-week spring 2013 jazz training program for middle and high school students through the Youth Jazz Workshops I, II, III, and the Jazz All-Star Ensembles.
Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts – $5,000
To produce the first non-professional production of the musical Shrek in the Charlotte region as a part of its ‘Theatre Matthews’ series.
Mint Hill Arts – $5,000
To provide Winter and Spring sessions of arts instruction and enrichment activities to children and adults.
Behailu Academy Nfp – $4,450
To teach African American history and culture through the arts to middle and high school students at Behailu Academy.
Caroline Calouche & Co. – $3,000
To create and produce ‘Spring Forward’ and ‘Star Gazer: A Trek Through Outer Space’ on April 11 & 12, 2014.
Central Piedmont Community College Foundation – $5,000
To produce for the Charlotte community Dances of India, a cultural outreach program that emphasizes unity in diversity through classical Asian Indian dance performances.
Charlotte Dance Festival – $3,000
To present the CLT Dance Weekend, which will include Dance Charlotte, Charlotte Emerging Dance Awards and Master Classes, on March 14 & 15, 2014.
Charlotte Folk Society – $3,000
To offer a series of Folk Heritage Events for the Charlotte community in a family-appropriate venue featuring artists who would otherwise not perform in Charlotte.
Charlotte Jewish Film Festival – $4,000
To produce the annual Charlotte Jewish Film Festival to entertain, illuminate, and create understanding in the greater Charlotte community about Jewish global experiences and Jewish culture, history and life.
Charlotte Youth Ballet – $3,000
To stage a high-quality production of Alice in Wonderland pairing local youth performers with professional dancers while offering free tickets for low-income youth and family-friendly ticket prices for the community.
The Choir School at St. Peter’s – $5,000
To produce the second half of its 21st season offering quality music education and performance opportunities to musically talented children throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.
City at Peace – Charlotte, Inc. – $5,000
To produce an original theatrical production featuring music, dance, and the stories of over 60 diverse teens, based on their lives, and performed for a public audience in Uptown Charlotte.
Collaborative Arts Theatre – $5,000
To supportthe outdoor portion of The 9th Annual Charlotte Shakespeare Festival, an annual free performing arts festival consisting of two professionally-produced classical plays, pre-show entertainment and educational workshops.
LATIBAH Collard Green Museum – $3,000
To support LATIBAH’s Project ‘X’ (Cultural eXchange) program, which will offer Charlotte-Mecklenburg youth a unique cultural experience by presenting the rich heritage of African American history and culture accompanied with a deeper understanding of diversity to be gained through cultural exchanges.
The Lesbian & Gay Community Center – $3,000
To have a film festival that appeals to and showcases the varied ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, gender identities, generational and family structure segments of the local LGBT community.
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation – $5,000
To provide the 4-H Film Making Curriculum to teens in three Recreation Centers.
North Carolina Wildlife Federation – $5,000
To provide five outdoor conservation-focused inquiry-based day trips for partner organizations serving kids 6-18 years old who have limited opportunity to explore the natural world.
Omimeo Mime Theatre – $3,000
To enhance and produce a new production of the Omimeo Mime Theatre’s award winning ‘Black Light Magic’ for performances in the Mecklenburg County area from Jan.-June 2014.
One Voice Chorus – $3,000
To support One Voice Chorus’ 4th annual production of Hollywood Squares: Diva’s Edition at North Carolina Dance Theater, June 2014.
A Sign Of The Times of the Carolinas – $4,000
To support two Spring public programs during its 14th season entitled ‘The Year of Black and Brown’: (1) ‘Bridging Musicals Worlds’ and (2) ‘Digging History through Music and Dance’.
Southeast Asian Coalition – $5,000
To support a digital storytelling project in which Southeast Asian youth will visually and creatively share their experiences as refugees coming of age in Charlotte and the trials of balancing two cultures.
Supportive Housing Communities Inc. – $5,000
To create a arts community engagement program for Supportive Housing Communities residents -including writing workshops, photography classes and community building choir.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte – $3,000
To animate the interior the Projective Eye Gallery space with the creation of a cavernous relief sculpture that envelops and surrounds the viewer and generates a dynamic psychologically charged environment.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte – $5,000
To support ‘City of Creeks: From Barriers to Bridges,’ which will celebrate Charlotte’s distinctive waterways through history, science, art, narrative and community engagement and be presented with online publication enhanced by public exhibitions.