$82,500 In Art For Social Justice Grants Awarded By Cambridge Arts


Yara Laceaga-Rojas (Nuttymar Photography)
Yara Liceaga-Rojas (Nuttymar Photography)

Public art at an historic Cambridge house to raise awareness of Black history and Cambridge’s complicity in the slave trade. A mentorship program for early-career dancers of color. A photography and performance project highlighting Black femme bodies taking up space in white-dominated places. A dance about migration and xenophobia.

These are among the 11 projects that have been awarded Art for Social Justice Grants totalling $82,500 by Cambridge Arts and the City of Cambridge. (Full listing below.) The new funding program—grants are $7,500 each—supports projects that present the themes and ongoing work of social justice to the Cambridge public through the arts.

Art for Social Justice Grants are one of three funding opportunities Cambridge Arts offered last fall—including Organizational Investment Grants and Local Cultural Council Grants, which will be announced soon. Each year, the City of Cambridge contributes substantial funding to support local artists, cultural workers, and arts organizations through the Cambridge Arts Grant Program. This support is coupled with funding received through the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s statewide Local Cultural Council Program. Overall Cambridge Arts and the City are distributing grants totaling $299,350 to artists and community organizations through these programs.

The Art for Social Justice Grants were developed to support artistic projects that positively impact and elevate issues related to health, education, food, housing, laws, information and digital access, transportation, political and economic opportunity and agency, environmental health, public safety, civic participation and activation of public spaces. In particular, Art for Social Justice Grants seek to reflect the interests, visions, and participation of those who have historically been underserved and underrepresented, including but not limited to those who identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, others who identify as people of color, and people with disabilities.


ANIKAYA Akhra, Inc.
Grant Award: $7,500.00
Migrations is a celebration of our coming together, of confluences, of crossing of borders and boundaries. It is a celebration of our ability to fly again. We have been living in a time of intense separation. This has been both due to health measures and political decisions based in xenophobia in general, and anti-Asian and Islamophobic policies that pre-date and have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Migrations is the next iteration of Silent Flight, a work created in 2019 as a companion project to ANIKAYA’s Conference of the Birds. Migrations is a movement score for thirty or more movers. We have built this score since 2019, with the first iterations occurring with a group of elder women at the Pao Arts Center in Boston and local community dancers, and at Brown University with students and local dancers. This fall we are working on a version for the City of Boston’s Joy Agenda, and have begun working with students at CRLS and Boston Arts Academy, along with about 25 local movers, ranging from non-dancers to Boston Conservatory faculty, and those members of the Conference of the Birds ensemble that we were able to get past ongoing travel restrictions. We have added percussion led by Marcus Santos. The next iteration we propose will incorporate recorded sound made up of the voices of participants and of birds, and involves new and expanded community partnerships.

Boston Art Review
Grant Award: $7,500.00
Boston Art Review is seeking support from Cambridge Arts to support the work of our editorial team as well as fulfill a special issue of Boston Art Review dedicated to the recipients of the Collective Futures Fund award. In particular, we are looking for funding to help cover the costs of labor associated with the production of this special issue which will largely be distributed to local writers, photographers, editors, designers, and educators. For many artists, the process of preparing work for press can be overwhelming; one that is not always taught or emphasized as an important part of the artistic process. Because of this, stories, projects, and moments within our region’s recent art history have the potential to be lost. We believe that with every issue, we have the opportunity to create a “snapshot of our time” that can live on as an archive of this moment in perpetuity. The launch of the Collective Futures Fund is a crucial moment for our region. In other cities, annual regranting programs from the same fund have sparked brilliant collaborations, legendary projects, and more crucially, a new opportunity for community. We want to be here to document all of it and provide a site for exploration and reflection.

Susan Coyne
Grant Award: $7,500.00
The happiness, health, and wellbeing of seniors is one of the best benchmarks of the health of a society—but so often overlooked. As their health and mobility declines, how do we make sure they stay socially engaged? How do we make sure they can still access and be part of the public square? How do we ensure that they maintain a high level of wellbeing? These are urgent tasks. But socially and politically, we often evince apathy for seniors’ needs. The relatively new term “ageism” comes to mind. Lack of reverence for—and dismissal of—seniors and their needs might be a new, predominantly Western, late capitalistic phenomenon, but I envision a future where they are shown the attention, care, and affection they deserve, and where the rich wisdom they bestow is given its due appreciation.

Rhea Gibson and Cicely Carew
Grant Award: $7,500.00
This is a 45-minute, monthly sound bath meditation with interactive drawing component to bring participants into meditative (non-objective) art making. We will provide each participant with a large sheet of drawing paper and a writing utensil. They will be instructed to put the point down to the paper and continue to move their hand throughout the duration of the sound performance. They will be guided through breath work to ease the nervous system and apply it to the practice. If they prefer, they can simply breathe, meditate or do gentle stretching during the performance. At the end participants will be given time to reflect as well as a digital link of a sound recording for future use.

History Cambridge
Grant Award: $7,500.00
We seek funding for public art on the front lawn of Hooper-Lee-Nichols House (HLN) that will raise awareness of Black history in West Cambridge. The HLN is the headquarters of History Cambridge (HC), formerly the Cambridge Historical Society (founded in West Cambridge in 1905). Massachusetts was a center of slave trading in New England as early as 1688 when African people were kidnapped by Massachusetts ship owners and traders to be sold as slaves in the American colonies or on Caribbean plantations. Some Cambridge families, including those in West Cambridge and the residents of Brattle Street (historic “Tory Row”), made their wealth through enslaved labor in Jamaica and/or they enslaved people at their homes and estates in Cambridge.

Innovators for Purpose
Grant Award: $7,500
Innovators for Purpose (iFp) is a BIPOC-led nonprofit organization that empowers diverse socially conscious young people to envision their future and bring it to life. Our mission is to inspire high-potential diverse young people to discover their passions, develop innovative mindsets and cultivate skills to solve the problems they care most about. As a result of our work, iFp students are equipped to pursue college and careers pathways aligned with their values and goals. Our flagship program, iFp Studios is organized as a teen-powered design and innovation studio. In a highly experiential work-based learning environment, iFp teens learn to use our methodology that blends art, design, science, technology and the mindsets of innovation to deconstruct complex problems. The resulting work is amplified through novel tech platforms that raise awareness and bring about change. This unique approach allows students to develop advanced in-demand skills, while working on projects that have a direct impact on their lives and communities.

Yara Liceaga-Rojas
Grant Award: $7,500.00
?Encarnar/Embody? centers the concept of Black femme bodies, taking up space, in white-dominated places. As an Afro-Caribbean queer woman, I want to encourage wonder and curiosity by leaving visual traces of my existence in three Cambridge neighborhoods. I reside in one of those neighborhoods and walk daily in others. The visual traces will be: 100 risograph printed photos of the micro-performances to post on lampposts and park bulletin boards, and three batey’s in selected Cambridge parks. On September 23, 2022, I will host an indoor exhibition of the photography and creative non-fiction documentation of the project, including a talk about the process, at CROMA (in Arlington Street Church, in Boston).

Midday Movement Series
Grant Award: $7,500
Midday Movement Series ("MIDDAY") seeks funds to create a mentorship program for early-career BIPOC professional contemporary dancers to support their personal and professional well-being, particularly given the effects of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. This program aims to address the impacts of structural inequities and daily microaggressions that BIPOC dance artists face by encouraging personal sustainability, creating a sense of home and community, and developing pathways for early-career BIPOC dancers to be a part of reimagining and building a new reality for our local dance sector.

Anna Myer/beheard.world
Grant Award: $7,500
The Being Heard Initiative has evolved from partnerships with community organizations and individuals who have come together with beheard.world, a 501 C (3) that has an extensive history of using the arts to create social change. As a collective, we are a diverse, multi-racial group of performing artists and filmmakers who use the arts to facilitate greater awareness and reduction of racial inequities in Cambridge, Boston and beyond. Of the company’s 15 key members, 10 identify as BIPOC (7 Black, 1 Latina, 1 Asian, 1 native Hawaiian). We have been able to tour extensively throughout the Northeast, the South and Midwest, including NYC, Baltimore Jackson, Memphis, St Louis, Milwaukee and Chicago with the support of grants from the NEA, NEFA and The Boston Foundation. Our partner organizations include The Dance Complex in Central Square; Trend Stream, a hip-hop dance and performance group based in Roxbury; Cambridge Public Schools to help recruit young people to participate in our performance piece (more below); and the Boston Collegiate Charter School in Dorchester to decorate the posters that we will display. The Being Heard Initiative is a project designed to use our experience in utilizing storytelling through the performing arts and filmmaking to create new awareness, dialogue and understanding of racism and equity.

Jessica Roseman
Grant Award: $7,500
As part of my 2021 Nourish Project, I’m gathering a group of Cambridge Black mothers to amplify and share their expertise in personal wellbeing. I’ll facilitate weekly small group Zoom sessions with Black moms, referred from The Center for Families (CFF), under the Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs. Together we will collaboratively cross the digital divide and create a meaningful artistic dance experience. Translators and funding for childcare will be provided for those who need assistance. There will be no requirement for participation other than availability and commitment to complete the project. Over 10 weekly sessions, we’ll discuss specific experiences and themes around embodiment and wellbeing. I’ll help translate the mom’s responses into shared movement phrases. No dance experience necessary, each mom will receive a custom personal dance centering on their individual answers, which we’ll all practice together. For example, if a mom described a lullaby and they thrill in rollercoasters, I’ll incorporate their song and swingy motions into their personal phrase. Each participant’s custom dance is a prescription for their self-satisfaction, shareable with their family.

Survivor Theater Project
Grant Award: $7,500.00
Survivor Theater Project is very excited to be in partnership with Saafyr Paz of SOS: Sharing Our Stories. Under the umbrella of SOS, Saafyr nurtures and guides emerging survivor artists from the BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and Deaf/Hard-of-hearing communities to step physically into their dreams. In this new partnership with STP, Saafyr will mentor these “sprouting” artists as facilitators with a peer mentoring team for some of the STP Healing Through Creative Arts, BIPOC-only survivor workshops while providing them with the tools to support their future success.