March 12, 2019


(Cleveland, OH) – In 2019 SPACES will offer support through The Urgent Art Fund to five Cuyahoga County artists for the creation of new artworks that are socially, politically, or culturally responsive. Since opening the application process on January 2, 2019, SPACES has received nearly 30 applications. Jurors Archie Green (musician, MOCA’s Community Engagement + Programs Manager), José Carlos Teixeira (artist, Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Christina Vassallo (curator, SPACES Executive + Artistic Director) have selected four projects to receive $5,000 each, plus additional resources including staff support, access to tools and studio space, and an annual SPACES membership. There is 1 grant left to distribute in 2019; applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are judged on the projects’ feasibility, artistic quality, ability to create an exchange of ideas and perspectives, and alignment with the purpose of The Urgent Art Fund.

The initial projects supported by The Urgent Art Fund in 2019 include:

Cigdem Slankard’s Breaking Bread is a virtual reality documentary exploring the multifaceted stories of refugee communities who have recently arrived in Cleveland. The film will feature four vignettes, in which a traditional meal with different refugee families serves as the backdrop for discussions centered around food, family, community, and experiences before and after resettlement. Cigdem Slankard is a filmmaker based in Cleveland, OH, who first came to the United States, from Turkey, in 1998 to study film and video; her work has been included in several exhibitions and film festivals around the world.

Akron’s Homeless Children, by Kevin Naughton, is a documentary that explores why roughly 1,800 of the 23,000 students in Akron’s public school system experience homelessness every year—a rate that far exceeds the national average. The basis of this film was developed during the interview and research process of Naughton’s Inside Akron’s Tent City, a documentary-series that followed an activist’s attempts to shelter homeless individuals on his private property and the Akron city administration’s efforts to displace them.

Rickey Lewis’ I care about my life & I care about your life is an interactive project designed to help heal relations between polarized groups in East Cleveland, including teens, police officers, and opioid users. This project will implement evidence-based curriculum, interactive dialogue, and community-based artwork to effect immediate and positive social change.

Black Buckeyes: Tale of Two Cities, by Leah Lewis & Rian Brown Orso, examines the long, storied, and conflictual histories that African Americans have with Cleveland and Cincinnati, both Midwestern cities that mark critical points along The Underground Railroad and destinations of The Great Migration. The film will take a close look at what has become of the cities today through personal and candid interviews, archival footage, and images of both the progress and the blight, in order to unravel the ways in which opportunities for African American residents are unevenly distributed across the two cities.

The Urgent Art Fund is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a Support for Artists grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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