Creatives Rebuild New York Announces Artist Employment Program Recipients
Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) today named its Artist Employment Program (AEP) recipients, 98 collaborations involving a dynamic group of 300 artists employed by community-based organizations, municipalities, and tribal governments across New York State. A total of $49.9M in funding will support artists’ salaries and benefits, with an additional $11.7M in funding provided to the organizations holding employment. Participating artists will receive an annual salary of $65,000 with benefits and dedicated time to focus on their artistic practice.
Nine artists/organizations from Central New York region will awarded funding from CRNY. They include:
SCHWEINFURTH ART CENTER
Visual artist Ellen Blalock will work with the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY to document African American family stories using video, quilt making, photography, and mixed media. The project will engage underrepresented communities throughout Cayuga County and result in a multi-media exhibit. As an artist-in-residence, Blalock will also work on her own narrative textile pieces for future exhibitions.
Faye Lone, Diane Schenandoah, Adriana Poulette, Jolene Patterson, Joshua Sargent, Marnie Billie, Afton Lewis, Caryn Miller, Emma Shenandoah, Roger Perkins
HAUDENOSAUNEE TERRITORIES / ONANDAGA COUNTY, NY
Artists Faye Lone, Diane Schenandoah, Adriana Poulette, Jolene Patterson, Joshua Sargent, Marnie Billie, Afton Lewis, Caryn Miller, Emma Shenandoah, and Roger Perkins will work with Rematriation across the Haudenosaunee confederacy in New York State. Rematriation is defined as “returning the sacred to The Mother.” Engaging with Indigenous communities in Onondaga county and beyond, this collaboration showcases, supports, empowers, and uplifts Indigenous women in their work, their personal lives, and in their community contributions. The artists will work across a variety of disciplines, including foodways, traditional arts, craft, oral traditions, media arts, film, photography, and comedy.
MUNSON-WILLIAMS-PROCTOR ARTS INSTITUTE
Artist Danielle Schenandoah will join the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York as Cultural Liaison, leading work in education, engagement, and public programming. The collaboration will advance the presence and living role of Native American perspectives, culture, and creations throughout the organization and the broader region.
Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community
HAUDENOSAUNEE TERRITORIES / MOHAWK VALLEY, NY
Mohawk filmmaker and media artist Raienkonnis Edwards will collaborate with the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community to conduct audio-visual interviews and capture oral stories of Haudenosaunee elders who hold cultural knowledge that is critical to the preservation and future of the Six Nations tribes. Recordings about their traditional upbringing—shared online and via a community archive—will modernize and make more accessible the sharing of traditional teachings and storytelling.
GOOD LIFE YOUTH FOUNDATION
Photographer Janna Stephens will join the Good Life Youth Foundation (GLY) to engage at-risk middle school and high school youth in Syracuse in the process of shooting, designing, and curating an exhibit focused on highlighting the social issues impacting the local area. The collaboration will highlight themes such as concentrated poverty and efforts to reshape the narrative surrounding system-involved youth.
Natasha Smoke Santiago
EVERSON MUSEUM OF ART OF SYRACUSE AND ONONDAGA COUNTY
Artist Natasha Smoke Santiago will join the Everson Museum of Art of Syracuse and Onondaga County to build public programming and educational initiatives surrounding Haudenosaunee art, culture, and heritage. Engaging with artists and community members within Mohawk nation, this collaboration will expand the Everson’s reach into Indigenous communities, educate about cultural traditions, and expose younger generations to practices of oral histories, cultural practices, and the self-examination of genealogy and history.
Victor Hdez Jaime
WORKER'S CENTER OF CENTRAL NEW YORK
Literary artist Victor Hdez Jaime will join the Worker’s Center of Central New York to gather the stories of migrant workers in multiple regions of upstate New York. Engaging migrant farm workers who are predominantly low-income Latinx immigrants, this collaboration will generate a book of non-fiction narratives. Never transcribing, the artist will weave the gist of these powerful, memorable narratives into art through his own craft and literary skills. In addition to giving voice to nuanced and often unheard stories, the collaboration will promote worker solidarity and political activism in the region.
Bennie Guzman, Kofi Antwi
PAN AFRICAN COMMUNITY OF CENTRAL NEW YORK (PACCNY)
Visual artist and art therapist Bennie Guzman and literary artist Kofi Antwi will join the Pan African Community of Central New York (PACCNY) in Syracuse, New York. Engaging with and learning from middle and high school Black and Brown youth, as well as immigrants from Africa and Latin America, the collaboration will focus on creating programs that emphasize the mental wellbeing of community members and support the realization of self-identity, his/herstory, and culture through creative writing and art.
THE MATILDA JOSLYN GAGE FOUNDATION, INC.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, NY
Griot and fiber artist Vanessa Johnson will join the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Onondaga County, New York. Working alongside low-income rural youth and low-income Black youth from Syracuse, this collaboration will create bridges between these two segregated communities. The collaboration will create art and performances that will make the Gage Foundation’s feminist-centered social justice work and women of color histories more accessible to Syracuse’s low-income urban communities and the county’s rural communities.
“If we are to truly rebuild our amazing state, we must celebrate artists’ contributions not only to the economy but to what makes us human,” says CRNY’s executive director Sarah Calderon. “Working alongside community-based organizations, artists preserve local histories, nurture social cohesion, and inspire significant progress in the realms of health, climate change, public safety, agriculture, immigration, education, housing, and more. The incredible work being funded through CRNY’s Artist Employment Program underscores the importance of direct support for both individual artists and the organizations that hold their employment. We can’t wait to engage policymakers and other funders in building out support systems that acknowledge and sustain this labor.”
Artist Employment Program recipients were selected through a two-stage process by a group of twenty external peer reviewers alongside CRNY staff. From an initial pool of over 2,700 written applications, 167 were shortlisted for interviews with reviewers. The reviewers represented a diverse mix of artists and organizational representatives from a broad range of artistic disciplines, regions across New York State, cultural identities, and lived experiences that were reflective of the applicant pool.
In keeping with CRNY’s commitment to equitable funding distribution, final selection was balanced across a number of variables. AEP recipients hail from all ten geographic regions of New York State, including substantial representation from rural communities, as well as six of the nine Indigenous nations recognized by the state. The cohort represents myriad approaches to collaboration and a diverse array of artistic and cultural practices—ranging from the performing and visual arts to oral traditions, craft, literature, and social practice. Organizations range from small, grassroots, community-based collaboratives to large, established cultural institutions. One hundred percent of the collaborations will work with and alongside Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQIAP+, Deaf/Disabled, criminal legal system involved, low-income, and/or rural communities.
“In creating a process through which artists and community organizations jointly applied to participate, the leadership council and artist-led CRNY think tank underscore the important role that artists play not just in their own creative pursuits, but also as workers and activists who remain on the forefront of issues most crucial to communities across the state of New York and beyond,” said Emil J. Kang, CRNY’s leadership council chair and program director for arts and culture at the Mellon Foundation.
Of the 300 individual artists in the selected collaborations, 165 will join Tribeworks, a worker cooperative providing employment and benefits for artists collaborating with smaller organizations that do not have the infrastructure to employ them directly. CRNY selected Tribeworks as an intermediary partner because of their commitment to creative labor and equitable access to employment.
To view the full list of artists and organizations participating in the Artist Employment Program, visit https://www.creativesrebuildny.org/participants/. To read more about the selection process, visit https://www.creativesrebuildny.org/2022/06/30/aep-selection-process/.