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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Arts Grants Awards funds artistic reach

By Audrey Overstreet For The Spokesman-Review

Today, Spokane Arts announced its first round of Spokane Arts Grants Awards for the year, with nine local artists or arts organizations receiving a total of $40,150 in aid from the nonprofit arts advocacy group. The monies will go to those working in a wide range of disciplines, including dance, theater, music, documentary, literature and the visual arts.

“SAGA’s round one winners exemplify the quality of craft and diversity of the voices being raised in Spokane’s growing art community,” said Shelly Wynnecoop, Grants Administrator of Spokane Arts. “From individual working artists to established institutions, with subjects both classical and contemporary, involving communities and disciplines which are often overlooked.”

Dr. Robert Bartlett will receive $8,500 to help create a documentary film, “Jumping Into the Fire,” about the first all African American paratrooper unit established in WWII. Bartlett is a visiting assistant professor at Eastern Washington University and a Vietnam War combat veteran. He began the project four years ago after reading The Spokesman-Review article about the unit.

The Jundt Art Museum has won $5,000 in SAGA monies to help bring a traveling exhibition of 22 bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin. The show “Rodin: Truth Form Life / Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collections,” will open Sept. 7, 2018, and will remain open until Jan. 5, 2019. Teachers can schedule guided tours of the high-profile exhibit for their students K-12.

Spokane Civic Theatre will benefit from $5,000 of SAGA support to bring Shakespeare to life for local schoolchildren. The funding will assist the community theater in reaching a greater number of Spokane district students with hands-on theater workshops as they study the history of Shakespeare. With SAGA funding, Civic will be able to expand programming into schools that serve low-income families.

Printmaking artist Reinaldo Gil Zambrano of RGZ Prints will receive $5,000 to acquire an etching press and related printing materials. The goal is to provide the public with access to a printmaking studio in downtown Spokane. Venezuelan-born Zambrano, who teaches art at EWU, plans to build audiences for and educate the local community in the art of traditional printmaking. The new press will allow Zambrano to host public workshops and develop his personal practice.

Spokane photographer Grace June will receive $4,900 toward printing books and metal prints of her “Survive” project. The photographic series focuses on those most impacted by suicide or on survivors of a suicide attempt. An exhibition of the images will travel to local schools, libraries and community art spaces. Books based on the project will be donated to community health agencies as well as to schools and libraries.

Gonzaga University Choirs garnered $4,000 of SAGA monies to collaborate with Jewish community members on a special performance to cultivate awareness of modern anti-Semitism and in remembrance of the Holocaust. More than 60 members of the GU student choir and an orchestral ensemble of 37 musicians will perform Michael Timmett’s “A Child of Our Time” on April 30. The concert, which will also be broadcast on Spokane Public Radio, will be preceded by a Yom Hashoah service.

Vytal Movement Dance Company won $3,250 to help present a performance designed to intrigue and increase audiences for professional quality dance in the region. “Confluence: Dances Influenced by the Spokane River,” will be performed by several trained dancers, most of whom connected via community adult dance classes taught by VMDC director Vincas Greene. Two years ago, Greene founded Spokane’s only professional dance company in order to develop local dance community. He will collaborate with local composers Margaret Francik and Sy Hovik, Spokane photographer/videographer Ira Gardner and local costume designers to put on the dance concert at the Bing Crosby Theater on April 20 and 21.

Laboratory secured $3,000 to fund eight artist residencies during the summer. Laboratory brings interactive, digital and performance artists from all over the world to live and work in its space in downtown Spokane for one-to-three month stints. At the end of their residencies, artists perform or exhibit their works for the public.

Willow Springs Books secured $1,500 to solicit, create, print and distribute a poetry chapbook called “Year of the Dog.” The independent press in Spokane will publish the book as part of its pre-existing Zodiac Poetry Series, overseen by EWU’s MFA Creative Writing program. Through various community partnerships, Willow Springs Books will be sourcing some of its contributions from writing workshops focusing on dogs.

The funding for SAGA comes from the city’s admissions tax, a portion of which is dedicated to Spokane Arts via an ordinance passed in 2016. Qualifying applications are reviewed by a panel of five individuals from the Spokane community. This panel is composed of one Spokane Arts Commissioner, one member of the Spokane Arts Board of Directors and three members of the community with experience in the arts.

“Our selection panel has an incredibly difficult job of selecting from a pool of so many worthy proposals,” said Melissa Huggins, Executive Director of Spokane Arts. “I’m excited by the mix of creative proposals that were funded.”

Last year, in the first year of the program, $85,100 in SAGA monies were awarded in four rounds. This year Spokane Arts expects to give $90,000 in arts support in three rounds. The next deadline to apply for a grant is June 1.

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