What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
Funding from Expansion Arts focuses on developing resilient organizations, Workshop included in the program consists of governance, financial management, fundraising, marketing and audience development, documentation and evaluation, leadership development, strategic collaborations and partnerships. Funding also foster greater connection across the arts and humanities as well as provide leadership and professional development for a broader network of EAP-eligible arts and cultural organizations.
Most Expansion Arts grantees are embedded in communities of color and enhance cultural heritage, are intergenerational, offer arts and cultural education, and are connected to businesses and other parts of the economy in the area.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
The importance of relationship building between funders and cohort, as well as with alumni has been an evolving goal. Developing a more robust alumni network with these Intercultural linkages and organic collaborations. Greater communication across mainstream cultural organizations and the Expansion arts alumni and current cohort is also a goal that has gain more importance because many of these culturally specific organizations have been in operation for many years, they have strong community ties and successful well-attended events, audience development strategies that can be shared with mainstream communities. Equity conversation among funders--development through logistics and practicing cultural equity in grantmaking and placemaking is another developing goal.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
Funders: Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and Rhode Island State Council for the Humanities.
Current Grantees: The India Association of RI, the Cape Verdean Sub-Committee, the Laotian community Center, and the Colombian American Association
Alumni: RI Black Storytellers, the Cambodian Society, RI Latino Arts, and the Eastern Medicine Singers
*The Eastern Medicine Singers* is an inter tribal American Indian Drum and Dance Troupe consisting of members from more than 10 distinct Tribes and bands. EMS was established in 2007 as a means of educating, informing and engaging with the local community, particularly youth, as a means of raising awareness about and promoting the traditional Algonquian cultures of New England and beyond. EMS travels throughout the Northeastern United States performing traditional or newly composed songs and sings songs in the traditional Algonquin dialects. EMS has also supported and participated in a number of cross cultural events and initiatives as a means of steadily diversifying our audience. Lastly, EMS supports a bi-monthly Algonquin language class that is overseen by local Pokanoket elder Donald Three Bears Fisher
*The Laotian Community Center* (LCC) of RI has an administrative office residing at the Southside Cultural Center that houses multiple culturally-specific organizations and theater groups. We are the only organization in Rhode Island that teaches traditional dance and music to have our students perform dance sequences to live instrumental music. LCC has an annual summer Traditional Lao Arts & Culture Camp with an international master artist residency program. We collaborate with a national non-profit called Lao Heritage Foundation (LHF) to bring music master instructors from Laos to come the America to teach folklore songs on different traditional musical instruments. We send our youth apprentices to Washington, D.C. to LHF Summer Camp for one week to return to Rhode Island to teach our students in an intensive week-long summer camp. LCC is also starting a new collaboration with a non-profit arts organization called AS220 based in Providence, RI to begin a Statue Project. We had apprentice monks learn the art of masonry statue designing, molding and sculpting from a master monk sculptor. The program is currently being developed with AS220 to incorporate traditional masonry skills, sketches with computer programs, innovation and 3D-model machines to help fuse the art of masonry skills and technology together to create public art.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Many of the current Expansion Arts organizations and the alumni reside at the Southside Cultural Center which is also supported by the City of Providence investments in Southside.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
In 1971, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) established the Expansion Arts Program to stimulate public and private support for art organizations serving culturally diverse communities. Several Rhode Island arts organizations including the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, and Rites and Reason Theatre, Brown University received NEA Expansion Arts grants.
*Establishment of Expansion Arts at the Rhode Island Foundation*
In 1985, the Rhode Island Foundation established the Rhode Island Arts Fund with a $200,000 NEA grant. NEA support was restricted to minority community-based arts organizations with a special emphasis on those
"deeply rooted and reflective of urban, geographically isolated, ethnically specific or tribal communities underserved by mainstream cultural institutions thus launching the Expansion Arts Program in Rhode Island.
*Expansion Arts during the 1990s*
For much of the 1990s, consultants nurtured relationships with culturally diverse communities not served by mainstream arts organizations. They facilitated workshops on filing for nonprofit status, grant writing, basic book keeping, and
Provided hands-on support. An independent review panel was established and grants were made on a biannual basis. Between 1990 and 2000 Expansion Arts provided $184,910 to 60 mostly artist-led arts groups to present cultural festivals,
Performances, and exhibitions.
*Expansion Arts Restructured*
Expansion Arts was redesigned in 2003 to emphasize technical assistance to strengthen the infrastructure of culturally diverse arts organizations. Reflective of the changing demographics of Rhode Island, Expansion Arts was recast to
Support primarily community-based arts organizations serving, but not limited to, African, African-American, Asian, Cape Verdean, Caribbean, Latin American, and Native American communities, which are under-represented in mainstream arts
Programs. Unlike traditional grants program, organizations applied for the technical assistance program comprised of workshops and one-to-one meetings with a consultant. Organizations selected to participate in the technical assistance program were eligible to receive an Expansion Arts grants up to $5,000 (later $10,000). The funds supported the implementation of projects related to management or operations.