Kansas City, MO, May 11, 2023: Charlotte Street is pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the Cultural Producer Grants. The Cultural Producer grant was developed with significant contributions in concept and funding from David Hughes, Jr. (Charlotte Street Foundation Founder/Director Emeritus). With a total funding amount of $50,000 this year Charlotte Street is able to grant 10 grassroots arts organizations and artist-run projects in Kansas City with awards of $5,000.
Kansas City exists as a lush tapestry of interwoven artist-run spaces, collectives, groups and organizations. These artistic ventures, though sometimes small, have impacted our community and city in monumental ways. Financial backing can be difficult for low budget, grassroots organizations to attain, particularly from larger institutions, leading to high turnover and lack of long-term viability. The Cultural Producer Grants are intended to uplift these vital projects and provide them with the funding they need to sustain.
The 2023 recipients include – African American Artists Collective, KC Defender, KC Public Theatre, My Region Wins!, Northeast Arts KC, One Mic Stand KC, Plug, Print League KC, Sass-A-Brass, and We Open Shop
African American Artists Collective
While the legacy of the Negro Leagues is well-known, the contributions of Black women to the sport are often overlooked. This project seeks to bring to light the stories of African American women who played baseball at a time when they faced significant barriers due to their race and gender.
Once the research is complete, the project will produce a series of written and multimedia materials to showcase the stories of African American women in baseball. This may include a film, a podcast series, and/or a book. These materials will aim to educate the public about the often-overlooked history of African American women in baseball, and to inspire future generations of women to pursue their dreams in sports and beyond.
The project will also seek to engage with communities that have a connection to the history of African American women in baseball. This may include partnering with local historical societies, museums, and sports organizations to host events and programming that highlight the contributions of these players. The project will also seek to connect with living descendants of African American women who played baseball, and to involve them in the project in meaningful ways.
Born in the aftermath of 2020’s Black uprisings and racial strife, Ryan Sorrell founded The Kansas City Defender as an antidote to the combined erasure and disinformation of Black midwesterns. Built on a pedagogy of oppressed peoples (Paulo Freire), The Defender’s focus is combining, both, the word and communal, action-based programming to effect truth, justice and abolition.
KC Public Theatre
Kansas City Public Theatre is a five-year-old professional theater company that has already made its mark through its mission of deploying Radical Hospitality to provide theater to every person: presenting all shows free of charge in a variety of accessible locations, performing plays both classic and contemporary that are topical and full of diverse actors and stories, hiring area playwrights for the Theatre Lab series of staged readings and small productions, and further building community through audience conversations and local partnerships. KCPublic also continues to expand our community outreach efforts through our “Soapbox,” a program that allows people to give voice to their experiences through public performance. Founders, Elizabeth and Nathan Bowman lead the organization artistically and administratively. They hire approximately 75 artists each season for programming that serves around 1,000 community members. KCPublic has a hands-on board of directors that volunteers at least 30 hours a year to the organization. In 2022, Kansas City Public Theatre was named “Arts Organization of the Year” by the Missouri Arts Council and was formally recognized through legislation passed in the Missouri House of Representatives
My Region Wins!
BOON AREA 1 is an interactive, functional artwork that acts as a contemporary community garden. In line with MY REGION WINS! mission to ‘transcend everyday challenges’ by using arts to nurture creative and undeveloped ideas that shape society, BOON Area 1 is the first of many vacant lots that is being transformed to neighborhood spaces. By working in partnership with neighborhood organizations, each BOON AREA will ultimately become a revenue generator for the neighborhoods they are in.
Northeast Arts KC
Northeast Arts KC has a proud 28-year history bringing visual and performance arts to the public in the Historic Northeast Community of Kansas City. Key projects to be funded by this grant are our public concert series, outdoor chalk events, and St. John Community Garden. These events have been well-received in the past, but program attendance, memberships, sponsorships, and donations have dropped substantially since COVID. The Charlotte Street Cultural Producer Grant would allow Northeast Arts to regrow current programs and expand its work to transform our neighborhood, city, and beyond.
One Mic Stand KC
One Mic Stand KC is a community centered organization that is made for artists by artists. We aim to be a space for BIPOC and LGBTQA+ artist to express themselves freely without judgment and censorship. We have become a platform in the form of open mics, art exhibitions, and writing workshops where people can come showcase and participate. Being at a OMSKC (One Mic Stand KC) event is not only a chance for expression but an opportunity to learn new things and meet new people from all across the city and beyond.
PLUG is an artist-run, nonprofit gallery and curatorial collaboration of Kansas City artists. We maintain year-round exhibition programming, prioritize professional support for artists, and sponsor community-facing events. The membership changes on a rotating basis, keeping the project fresh and energized, and the curatorial vision ever-expanding.
Print League KC
Print League KC is a community print shop that provides affordable access to equipment, comfortable working spaces, and workshops. We create a path for growth and professional development for new and established artists while providing learning opportunities for beginners.
Sass-a-Brass was born when journalist Fally Afani approached Lawrence Mardi Gras band percussionist Kimberly Simonetti to lead a grassroots Pride parade down Massachusetts Street in June of 2018. What began as a New Orleans- style brass band playing second-line tunes like “Li’l Liza Jane” and “Down By the Riverside” has turned into a dynamic group learning funk classics and pop hits by ear, with plans for original material in 2023.
Our mission is to bring queer musical joy to the public, and simultaneously provide a welcoming space in which underrepresented groups experience a sense of belonging and sustained growth as musicians.
We Open Shop
We Open Shop is an artist-run not-for-profit organization. We are three professional women working in a predominantly male industry as designers, fabricators, and instructors who come together to share our knowledge and tool skills. Our collective recognized a need for a truly inclusive shop catering to underserved people; specifically, women, trans, and nonbinary makers. We Open Shop (WOS) meets attendees at any stage they are at during their creative journey from ideation to fabrication. We are dedicated to providing proper safety techniques, as well as providing an accessible shop that is a brave space for all.
Photo by – Joshua Alexandre Haines
ABOUT THE JURY
The Jury for the 2023 cultural producers was comprised of four local artist and organizers, including: Stacy Busch – No Divide KC Executive Director/Co-Founder, Davin Watne – UMKC Gallery of Art Gallery Coordinator (Davin is also a professor of art and visual artist), Maria Vasquez Boyd – ArtSpeak Radio, KKFI Host, and John Lewis – Spoken Easy Organizer, Poet, 2022 Rocket Grant recipient
ABOUT CHARLOTTE STREET
Charlotte Street centers Kansas City’s most forward-thinking visual artists, writers, and performers—acting as the primary incubator, provocateur, and connector for the region’s contemporary arts community, and its leading advocate on the national stage. Since 1997, Charlotte Street has distributed over $2 million in awards and grants to artists and their innovative projects, and connected individual artists to each other and to the greater Kansas City community. For more information about Charlotte Street, its awards, programs, and initiatives, visit www.charlottestreet.org.