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Program Director, Public Art

Public art has the power to inspire more just, vibrant, and welcoming public spaces and public life. 

 – NEFA’s Public Art Team

 

Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice (CISJ) and Public Art for Spatial Justice (PASJ) grants are back this spring! As we continue to support and celebrate the work of the artists, cultural workers, organizers, and organizations that were funded in 2020, we are excited to offer another round of grants.  As we move through this new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, we hope these grants will inspire you to imagine how we might welcome one another back into public spaces in Massachusetts.

We also acknowledge the continued impacts of violence experienced by communities of color for simply existing in public space across the country. We recognize the intersectionality of our identities and collective struggles towards justice and have made some modifications to our CISJ and PASJ criteria and priorities. We hope that this level of specificity allows for transparency about what we mean in our funding criteria and priorities, as well as clarity about who and what we are prioritizing in our funding at this time.  Please note, we strongly encourage you to visit the specific grant pages for each program to review the full list of criteria and priorities before applying.

Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice Updates

Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice grants support teams of artists, creatives, culture bearers, cultural organizers, and community-based collaborators to do the important work of imagining together, public art that fosters and contributes to more just futures for our public spaces and public culture. Here are a few updates to the fund priorities:

This has been core to our program design, and we are deliberately being more explicit by naming this in our priorities. If you have questions about NEFA’s racial equity values, please check out the blog by our executive director Cathy Edwards published on June 3, 2020, titled “Statement on Racial Justice”.

  • Priority will be given to teams that are rooted in community and/or demonstrate deep relationship to place – particularly rural places and/or places where folks are experiencing/have experienced displacement.

Context is important to public art making. As we’ve taken on a spatial justice lens (the right to be, thrive, express, and connect) in our public art grantmaking, we recognize that whole communities have been displaced, and denied the right to simply BE in place due to a variety of injustices.  We want to center the leaders, artists, and communities who have been impacted by displacement. Though we value allyship, we also recognize that the path towards justice is most often best led by those most impacted by injustice.

And as we expand our public art grantmaking in Massachusetts we acknowledge that much of our past Public Art grantmaking has been concentrated in the greater Boston area, and we want to use this opportunity to acknowledge that not all public spaces are urban spaces. We know public artmakers are in our rural communities too, and we want to make sure you know that this opportunity is for you!

These updates to the funding priorities are also reflected in the CISJ application narrative questions, and more details can be found at the CISJ grant page.

Public Art for Spatial Justice Updates

Public Art for Spatial Justice grants support Massachusetts artists and artistic collaborations to create public art in Massachusetts that fosters public imagination and contributes to more just futures for our public spaces and public culture.

First, I’ll note an update in our eligibility criteria:

  • Lead Applicant must be a Massachusetts-based artist or artistic collaboration. Lead applicant may be an individual(s), fiscally sponsored collective, and/or 501c3 organization.

This is the same as last year, but we are offering more specificity in what we are looking for in artistic collaborations that are led by an organization:

Organizations working in partnership with an artist(s) must be able to demonstrate that the relationship between the artist(s) and organization is built on trust, accountability, and reciprocity. Artists are collaborators and co-conspirators on this journey, not saviors.

We acknowledge the inherent power dynamics that can exist when artists partner with institutional entities. We want to be sure that collaborations that we are funding are also mindful and doing the work to ensure that there is trust, accountability, and reciprocity built into the relationship from the top of the collaboration.

Also under the PASJ Funding Criteria

  • Relevance: Projects creatively engage important public conversation(s) that are or need to be happening in this particular moment, in this particular place. Context is important in public artmaking. Public spaces are not neutral. And public art made in public spaces is not neutral.

This is the same as last year, but we are offering more specificity in the types of projects that we are prioritizing:

  • Priority will be given to projects that are rooted in community and/or demonstrate deep relationship to place – particularly rural places and/or places where folks are experiencing/have experienced displacement.

These updates are consistent with our updates to CISJ priorities (see above for more details). 

Please refer to the PASJ grant page for a full explanation of eligibility criteria, funding criteria and priorities and updates to PASJ application narrative questions.

We hope this added specificity offers clarity and transparency in our intentions for these programs! 

Ways to Learn More

 

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