$117,643 In Cambridge Arts Grants Fund 35 Local Cultural Projects

3/29/202313 months ago

Including Asian Festival, Documentary About Middle East Nightclub, Directory Of Monuments

Thirty-five projects will receive grants totaling $117,643 from Cambridge Arts and the City of Cambridge’s Local Cultural Council Grants. This grassroots grants program, operated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council across the Commonwealth, supports Cambridge projects including dance, films, music, public art, and theater. They represent the wealth of artistic activity across the city.

Grant-funded Cambridge projects include an Asian festival, a vocal concert about historical women in Bengal, a puppet opera about weather, traditional Japanese paper theater show about butterfly migration, a directory of monuments and memorials in Cambridge, free music lessons for low-income students, an animation about the plight of war refugees, a free concert of Ladino (Jewish Sephardic) music, and a documentary film about Cambridge’s Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub and its history as a focal point of Central Square’s music scene. (See full list of grants below.)

Overall Cambridge Arts and the City are distributing grants totaling $266,143 to 53 artists and cultural organizations this year through three funding opportunities that Cambridge Arts offered last fall—including Art for Social Justice Grants, Local Cultural Council Grants, and Organizational Investment Grants. 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.


Cambridge Community Center for the Arts
Grant Award: $4,250
The pandemic has made it extremely challenging for artists to find venues (physical & virtual) to present (shows/classes/workshops), connect with audiences (onsite/online), fund production costs (artist fees, venue fees, insurance, audio/video production, lighting design, livestreaming, postproduction, marketing, distribution, ticketing, & broadcast expenses), and be able to earn a living in an ever-changing market. This project will continue our non-profit's work to bridge these gaps by completing the post-production (video/audio editing) and release (on Cambridge Community Television's live & archived channel, CCCA's 'Pay to Watch' platform, & social media) and market the projects we produced with artists in 2022, allowing the artists complete freedom of expression and creative control, and entitling them to full ownership of all artistic work/output and to equitable residual income.

Cambridge Families of Asian Descent
Grant Award: $4,250
The Cambridge Families of Asian Descent (CFAD) is an affinity parent group of the Cambridge Public Schools. We are collaborating with the Somerville Asian and Asian American Family Network (SAAFN) to organize the two-day Cambridge-Somerville Asian Festival for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2023. Our first festival took place in May 2022 at the CALA complex in Somerville (1st day) and Starlight Square in Cambridge’s Central Square (2nd day). Due to its resounding success, we intend to organize a similar festival across our two cities in 2023. The first day's event will be in Somerville, while the second day’s event will take place at Starlight Square or a similar Cambridge venue. We plan to showcase local Asian performers, artists, students, and vendors as well as provide interactive kid-friendly art workshops.

Maitreyee Chakraborty
Grant Award: $4,293
The 1.5 hours vocal concert will examine the role of women in the 19th and 20th century Bengal through songs, dance, poems, excerpts of plays composed and written in 'Bengali' by the Indian Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. It will push the boundaries of the traditional roles of women and societal expectation on women. Tagore, a progressive and iconic humanist, wrote on Issues of sexism, colorism, caste discrimination and gender fluidity - these topics will be presented and examined in a thought-provoking manner. Songs and excerpts from his musicals on the same topic will be choreographed and presented by a dance group. The program will be open captioned, explained and contextualized in English. Tabla, khol, harmonium will be used. Translations will be projected on the screen. The program will end with a Q&A session from the audience. The number of artists involved will be 10.

Charles River Conservancy
Grant Award: $4,250
The CRC seeks continued support for a public art and community-building process at the Lynch Family Skatepark, known as “the busiest park per square foot in Massachusetts.” The CRC has embarked upon a public art process to support and strengthen the park’s physical and social infrastructure. In the past year, the CRC brought together partners (below) who have an established presence at the skatepark and in the local art community to explore spatial justice at the park and to identify groups, subgroups, social dynamics, and tensions. From Fall 2022 to Spring 2023, the CRC and our partners will build on this foundation to host 4 events, including an onsite kick-off, which happened on October 6, followed by 3 forums that will explore with the community visioning, spatial justice, and art curation criteria development.

Brenda Huggins
Grant Award: $4,250
Live Music! Puppets! Magic Telescopes! “Mr. Twister and the Tale of Tornado Alley," an opera for family audiences, follows a Meteorologist and grandson with a magic telescope that sees everything, including the North and South winds about to create a cyclone! Through the magic of puppetry, the Winds come to life in an immersive theater experience with audience-interactive dialogue, movement and singing. In a hands-on puppet making workshop, youth will create their own puppets, and perform from their seats as part of the show. In partnership with the East End House, the event will take place outdoors in either Donnelly or Tim Toomey Park in East Cambridge, participants will learn important climate topics that directly impact our communities including the need for clean air, and how to advocate for healthy living environments for our families.

Yumi Izuyama
Grant Award: $1,700
In collaboration with a kamishibai (Japanese Paper Theater) artist from Mexico, I will create a kamishibai story about the migration of the monarch butterflies from the US (Northeast) to Mexico and then back to the US. This story will be presented at three different venues in the city of Cambridge. These events are the Monarch Butterfly Release Celebration organized by the City of Cambridge Water Department, the Fly, Buzz, and Hop organized by Green Cambridge, and one of the summer family events at the Magazine Beach Park Nature Center organized by Mass Audubon Society. Each event will begin with an explanation of kamishibai (traditional Japanese form of storytelling) prior to the performance. There will also be hands-on nature themed activities after each performance.

Rebecca MacInnes
Grant Award: $600
Our project is to perform a 40-minute storytelling “crankie”, with live musical accompaniment by Mamaliga Klezmer Band. A “crankie” is a traditional Appalachian-American story telling medium utilizing an illustrated moving scroll. For this performance, Mamaliga is collaborating with visual artist Kiah Raymond and playwright Abigail Weaver to develop a musical story-telling piece rooted in American and Yiddish folklore. The story draws on themes explored in S. Ansky’s ethnographies of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century, focusing on the character Elijah, a trickster who is searching for their voice. All aspects of the performance will be original material, including the artwork, storyline, and musical composition. Through this artistic collaboration, our project will engage an intergenerational audience in the richness of American and Yiddish folklore.

The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts
Grant Award: $1,105
Since reopening last November, MCA has sought to rebuild and diversify its audiences, and expanding accessible arts programming is a key component of MCA’s vision. In efforts to build our ASL programs and reach more diverse, multigenerational audiences, MCA is seeking funding for Arts Access with ASL: WCT’s ASL Storytime & Interactive Creativity Workshop. WCT’s ASL Storytime events include an explanation of American Sign Language (ASL) featured in stories read so that audience members can participate with ASL during the storybook presentation [by reader] and interpreted [by ASL Teaching Artist]. ASL Storytime sessions will also include a creative hands-on art project that relates to the story. The project will be presented at public libraries again this year, expanding to local farmers markets when appropriate. Programs will be videotaped and presented virtually to maximize access.

K. Rhett Nichols
Grant Award: $1,360
Monuments and memorials have been spotlighted nationally since 2020. Cambridge has a wide variety of them but there is currently no comprehensive resource on monuments and memorials in Cambridge. A few are highly visible, but many are invisible, unfindable, or mysterious. Local organizations and websites have incomplete information. I compiled an extensive list and detailed information when teaching a public art class. I propose to research additional missing information, take photos, and put all this information on Wikipedia as a resource for Cambridge, both a list and articles on individual monuments with photos. The highly visible Wikipedia platform allows anyone (from school kids to tourists to scholars) near and far, to find, use, expand, and update this accessible resource, and it will activate our currently less visible monuments.


Cambridge Senior Center
Grant Amount: $4,250
The Music Jam Sessions is a program for older adults ages 60+ that takes place at the Cambridge Senior Center. The Music Jam Sessions is a collaboration between the Cambridge Council on Aging, the Cambridge Public Health Department and musician Bobby Tynes and his all-star musical ensemble. The premise behind the Music Jam Sessions is to gather older adults with or without music instrument experience and to create music together. Bobby Tynes and his ensemble includes a pianist, a drummer, and a cellist. Senior participants can bring their instruments, use an instrument provided to them by the senior center, or sing. The Music Jam Sessions started as a summer series and was so successful, it was requested by senior participants to continue. Currently, a fall Music Jam Session is underway and offered for five dates, beginning late September thru November.

Anton Glamb
Grant Award: $4,250
The project would bring music and dancing to the Lynch Family Skatepark with a monthly mix of skateboard, inline skate, bmx, scooter, rollerskate, music, dj and dance culture. The goal is to encourage physical activity, getting outdoors and living a healty lifestyle. The project has two main cultural exchanges: 1) Getting people from the dance music world to be active and try skateboarding/rollerblading or return to the sport 2) Showing the skate community different type of music than they have been exposed to, ignite a curiosity and interest in electronic music, djing, rapping or dancing.

Jazz Boston, Inc.
Grant Award: $4,250
The series is named Jazz All Ways because varied jazz styles are featured during the 12-week program, including traditional, progressive, fusion, swing, bebop, and jazz poetry, gospel + projections. JAW showcases the deep jazz talent abundant in Greater Cambridge with programs designed by 12 resident master musicians - innovation, entertainment, and a little education in mind. They may use their date as a workshop to develop their programs for larger concerts or for touring the program. Free admission to Jazz Jam Sessions following shows. These sessions let students and emerging musicians play and network with masters– in addition to the opportunity to play for a serious listening audience. Jazz All Ways begins its second season April 2, 2023, and continues every Sunday for three months through June 2023. Doors open at 6:30 PM. Performances at 7 and 8:30 PM. At ZuZu, Central Sq.

Ira Klein
Grant Amount: $3,400
The program will present a free concert by Ira Klein & Convivencia, a contemporary Ladino (JewishSephardic) music ensemble. Convivencia (co-existence in Spanish) brings together musicians from Israel, Iran, Greece, Cyprus, and the U.S. to make music and celebrate a peaceful vision. As someone who grew up in Jerusalem immersed in a violent conflict, this project is especially meaningful to me. The program will include a 50-minute performance, followed by a discussion and Q and A with audience members, focused on the creative process of rearranging traditional music, as well as the challenges and joys of a collaboration across cultures. Bringing together a group of 6 exceptional musicians to rehearse and perform is a costly endeavor. I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to apply to this grant, which will allow me to fully present our vision to the local community for free.

Juliann Ma
Grant Amount: $4,250
Global Voices LIVE celebrates our diversity through cross-cultural music performances and workshops. Led by local BIPOC/ LGBTQIA+ artist-collaborators borne from the acclaimed Silkroad Global Musician Workshop, this concert series provides a space for our community to share and explore our roots, sparking meaningful conversations through music. Each event’s Lead Artist/ Ensemble guides the community through an exploration of their heritage via an improvisation workshop or interactive concert, incorporating traditional music elements from across Asia, Africa, and Arabic-speaking countries to create original, cross-cultural compositions, leading to an open jam. We hope to grow a vibrant, inclusive Cambridge music scene, empowering diverse voices, encouraging artistic multilingualism in the community. We plan to host the series in Shady Hill Square Park, May-Sept 2023.

Massachusetts Federation of Farmers and Gardeners Markets, Inc.
Grant Award: $2,380
Mass Farmers Markets is looking for the financial resources to develop a music program at the Central Square Farmers Market. The program will be designed so that it provides a platform for new and emerging artists to play in public, engage with their neighbors, and provide insight into the culture that they and their music. Our goal is to create a sense of inclusion and belonging through music.

Phillips Brooks House
Grant Award: $2,550
For the last three decades, HARMONY has provided low-income, K-12 students in the Greater Boston area, and especially Cambridge, the opportunity to develop their musical ability through free, one-on-one instrumental and vocal lessons with Harvard student-mentors. HARMONY volunteers dedicate more than two hours each week to providing the highest quality instruction for their students. Through our highly individualized, lesson-based model, we offer budding musicians’ exposure to many instruments, genres, and artistic possibilities in a nurturing environment. We also provide additional opportunities for musical enrichment through events like ensemble and symphony visits. Keeping with our no-cost-to-students commitment, we hope to use funding to completely cover instruments, lesson materials, and any transportation needs of mentees to local music centers.

Shelter Music Boston
Grant Award: $4,250
Shelter Music Boston delivers classical music concerts to our program partners each month throughout the year. Prompted by the pandemic, SMB pivoted to virtual programming for most of the last two years, with our musicians recording a concert each month and a music producer editing each final video recording that is shared with all our program partners digitally via YouTube. However, as of June 2022, SMB ensembles are back to consistently performing live and in-person at five adult sites and soon to be two sites for children or families. We will continue to follow our approach of a monthly concert at each partner site, as well as the production of a short video for virtual partners each month throughout 2023. It may be worth knowing that we have begun work to secure funding to establish a pilot to investigate the efficacy of more frequent concerts at one partner site with the hope of determining whether this is a direction for SMB to consider.

David M. Stevens
Grant Award: $4,250
By presenting a large-scale concert in Kresge Auditorium, our vision is to explore the complexities of Yiddish art and heritage through contemporary music. It will feature original works by composer Derek David written for a diverse collection of musicians from both the classical concert and Jewish music world. Presented in part by the Boston Festival for New Jewish Music, this concert will promote, disseminate, and celebrate Yiddish artistic culture and its burgeoning renaissance within the context of classical concert music.


Blacksmith House Poetry Series
Grant Award: $4,250
Blacksmith House Poetry Series (BHPS) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023, and we at CCAE are planning to honor and proclaim this remarkable and historic birthday in a grand way. BHPS is arguably the most iconic and longest-running poetry reading series in the country, where the great 20th century poets (Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, Anna Akhmatova, Fernando Pessoa, Frank O’Hara, Jorie Graham and Adrienne Rich, among many others) to attest to its half-century legacy of not only giving voice to thriving contemporary poets, but to promoting fresh, new, diverse, and emerging talents in the poetry world as well. We are planning a season that will enable us, with your help, to fly in some of the poets who have helped to establish the series, as well as launch a party this spring to celebrate the founder, Gail Mazur and others who have helped this series succeed.

Boston Dance Alliance
Grant Award: $2,975
Boston Dance Alliance, as the only independent arts service organization serving dancers across our community, has a special responsibility in sharing information and marketing the work of the lively Cambridge dance community. We do this in our weekly Pro/Motion newsletter and social media. Organizations publicized include the Dance Complex, DWC, CCAE @MAC, Global Arts Live, Dance in the Schools (Cambridge), Cambridge Camping Association, and the many independent artists and small arts organizations for which we serve as a fiscal sponsor. We are a source of technical and professional development information, provide a comprehensive local grant calendar and more. We also host the annual Open Call Audition where Cambridge dancers find employment opportunities, Cambridge choreographers cast their works, and Dancer Health Day where they receive expert wellness screenings.

Guerilla Opera, Inc.
Grant Award: $2,550
Guerilla Opera’s (GO’s) proposed project is the world premiere of “The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage”, a comedic one-act opera adapted from the steampunk graphic novel by Sydney Padua, sung in English, for 4 singers and 4 instrumentalists, and with electronic sound design. The new opera transports Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, the true-life inventors of the first computer, in alternative universes where they use the invention to fight crime. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was a countess, mathematician, gambler, and proto programmer, whose writings contained the first ever appearance of general computing theory. She was one of the first to develop a programming language, though she is still relatively unknown. By centering Lovelace and her accomplishments, this opera shines light on a history of great scientists that are women.

MUSIC Dance.edu
Grant Award: $500
Hip Hop Chair Dance for Seniors! The dance class is about an hour. Elders do a complete chair, dance, warm-up, and hip hop class that begins and ends in the chairs. We travel through time on the “Soul Train” and chair dance to clean cut hip hop and R & B songs. We use creative props such as smiley faces and the African maracas to help make our soul train journey come to life. Senior participants will leave feeling more limber. “All Aboard the Hip Hop Soul Train Express.”

Patricia Russo
Grant Award: $1,717
Partners in Rhyme is a six-week intergenerational poetry program where older adults from Cambridge and teens from the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program gather to read, discuss, and write poetry. Teens and adults work in small groups so relationships can develop. We will read contemporary and classic poems on themes such as: gratitude, mindfulness, and resilience. We will also explore some Cambridge Sidewalk poems. During our intergenerational discussions, participants are encouraged to share personal reactions to a poem instead of analyzing the poem's style or intended message. Next, everyone is invited to write and share their own pieces. There will be an open mic gathering at the end of the program where participants (and others from the community) can perform original works created during the series or a favorite poem.

Laura Sánchez
Grant Award: $4,250
Live Flamenco show produced by Laura Sánchez Flamenco inviting flamenco dancers, students, musicians, and guest artists to perform in the heart of Central Square. This is a community-based project created with the hope to bring all the flamenco community together. This work started in 2021 as the first Flamenco Show in Cambridge since COVID19, a community healing opportunity for performers, teachers, and students to be back on stage in person after a year of isolation. This will be the third year of Flamenco at Starlight and I would like to premiere a new piece created by five immigrant women, mothers and flamenco artists creating a dance piece to represent our individual journeys in a collaborative piece created with our kids while integrating the participation of our students, musicians, and special guest artists.

Urbanity Dance
Grant Award: $4,250
Urbanity Dance requests a grant of $5,000 to support Of the Ether, performed by the Professional Company as part of its 2022-2023 Season. Of the Ether is a creative collaboration between Meg Anderson, Urbanity's Company Director and Choreography Fellow, and members of MASARY Studios, a transdisciplinary artist collective reconsidering environments through site-specific installations using sound, light, interactivity, and performance. The creative team and dancers will create both a performance and an immersive experience for the audience. Presented at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge, Of the Ether will offer Cambridge residents a unique opportunity to engage with an immersive new work by dance artists, coders, engineers, architects, designers, percussionists, and animators---furthering Urbanity's ongoing efforts to build community through new approaches to contemporary dance.


Catriona Baker
Grant Award: $4,250
"Ball Lightning" is a 12-minute in process animation; https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/703488309/5a801c3d8d. The film is based on a true story and is a personal narrative about a child's love for a parent and the parent's love for their child, while bringing to light the plight of a refugee. It illustrates the trauma of war and fortitude of human resilience. Amid our present socio-political divide and global conflict – including the ongoing war in Ukraine – it is my hope that this film will address contemporary issues surrounding – not only – immigration, but also the long-term impacts of war, trauma, and violence. Animation is truly a collaborative medium. And, the importance of connection, has been brought to the forefront throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The film is made in memory of all children left behind in wars, as they are never forgotten by those who love them.

Greig Canna
Grant Award: $4,250
We are always interested in broadening people's understanding and knowledge of photography and photographers but have become particularly interested in breaking down people's preconceived notions of who is making these photographs. Women have slowly started making inroads in the traditionally male-dominated world of photography, but unknown to most people is the role they are playing in covering conflict. This show will revolve around 5 female photographers who are risking their lives to cover conflict in their own countries. Too often the photographers who get attention are the super stars who drop into conflict zones, do great work, then leave. We want to bring attention to the home-grown photographers who are working in their own countries, often at great risk to themselves. In many countries just the fact that they are women heightens the risk even more.

Madison Chacon
Grant Award: $4,250
Each Saturday, I, and other artists volunteer to teach a free art class to the residents of the Green Street homeless shelter, focusing on projects requested by the guests. With this grant, we will host five art classes at publicly accessible spaces in addition to expanding our weekly workshops to additional homeless shelters in Cambridge. For the public workshops, we will provide activities which we were not previously able to fund, such as music lessons and painting workshops led by a previously unhoused community member. The artists will then display their art at a public venue, such as at Starlight Square. These events will work to serve not only the unhoused community, but also the greater Cambridge community, as we use art to build connections between the housed and unhoused factions of Cambridge.

Zhonghe (Elena) Li
Grant Award: $4,250
We often go far to see culture and nature that bring excitement and freshness, but not to truly observe what is around us. As an artist living and working in Cambridge, Cambridge is not only vibrant in cultural activities but also rich in biodiversity. The proposed project "Art of Nature Around Us" intend to bring attention to the biodiversity and the impacts of climate change on our local environment. I will be collaborating with Mass Audubon's Nature in the City Program in Cambridge's Magazine Beach and local communities to create participatory programs to enhance our awareness of diverse species around us, and how to express them through artistic expression based on our close observations. The plan includes giving workshops and creating an installation of the artist's and the participants' work at the Magazine Powder Building, and making video recording to share on CCTV channel, with Cambridge community organizations to reach more diversified groups, and to tell stories together.

Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers
Grant Award: $4,250
The Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) intends to have a mural painted in Spring 2023 on the Columbia Street side of the nonprofit agency's flagship office at 1046 Cambridge Street, Cambridge. MAPS, which owns the building, has provided linguistically/culturally specific health and human services for Portuguese speakers in Greater Boston and beyond since 1970. One of six MAPS offices, it has operated from its current location for more than 40 years. It houses MAPS' Portugueselanguage Senior Center and many of MAPS' bilingual/bicultural staff including administration, Center staff, and staff of the Immigrant Integration, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Services, and HIV/STI Services teams. The 700-850 sq foot mural will reflect MAPS' values and the diversity of its staff and constituents--immigrants and their families from Portugal, Brazil, Cabo Verde, and other countries.

Simon Morrison
Grant Award: $4,250
Flower Boy is a short, scripted film set in Cambridge. The film centers Robel, a 24-year-old Cambridge native working as a flower delivery driver at Brattle Square Florist. As he delivers flowers to his clients, Robel winds up in intimate conversations about love and grief. These encounters ultimately alter his perspective on his rapidly gentrifying city and the relationships in his life. Like the work of filmmaker Chloe Zhao, Flower Boy will use a fictional structure to engage with the stories of real people. The film will be cast entirely with non-actors, all of them lifelong Cambridge residents from the Port, North Cambridge, and Coast; preserving the stories of vulnerable communities in Cambridge that are rapidly being displaced. The project tells Cambridge-specific stories with universal themes that apply to larger audiences that can be screened both locally and at national film festivals.

Eric Taylor
Grant Award: $4,250
‘On the Corner’ is a film that will document the legacy of The Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub, and its history as a focal point of Central Square’s music scene. The film will also chronicle the redevelopment efforts to transform The Middle East into a six-floor boutique hotel, and the public’s desire to preserve The Middle East, and its mural ‘Crosswinds’ as being culturally significant. The threat of losing this beloved landmark makes the archiving of The Middle East while it stands essential, but equally important is capturing the dialogue and process of this redevelopment process for future transparency. The finished film will be screened in public at The Middle East will a filmmaker Q & A.

Susan Young
Grant Award: $4,250
I will create a short film focused on poets featured on the sidewalks of the streets of Cambridge. Poets will read their works and talk about what it means to them to have their poems stamped into the cement. The final product will be a 4–10-minute film that presents Cambridge’s Sidewalk Poetry program, captures the importance of public art, introduces several poets and their work, and conveys the value of Sidewalk Poetry to the community.


East End House
Grant Award: $2,763
East End House's proposed project falls under the Field Trip Grant for our Middle School Students. With this grant we will be taking our middle school students and families to see Boston Lyric Opera's production of Omar (May 4th, 2023).

Martin Luther King School
Grant Award: $500
Take 40 kindergarten students to the Puppet Showplace Theater. I fill find a performance that is appropriate for their age group this coming spring.