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Spokane Arts announces final Grants Awards for 2019 totaling $38,500

By Audrey Overstreet For The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Arts announced today its last round of Spokane Arts Grants Awards for the year, with eight local artists or arts organizations receiving a total of $38,500 in aid from the nonprofit arts advocacy group. Three of the winners are film-based projects, with the disciplines of dance, visual arts and literature also represented among award recipients.

The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture won $10,000 to help fund its Monday Movie series of screenings of nationally acclaimed documentaries at the Magic Lantern. The money will be used to bring filmmakers to the city for post-screening conversations, workshops with local nonprofits, master classes for emerging filmmakers and one-on-one mentoring.

The Alliance plans to generate storytelling projects by featuring filmmaker master classes at local universities, training and educator workshops at local public TV and radio stations, and youth mentoring and digital workshops at community centers and Native tribal programs.

Painter Diane Covington, a Colville Confederated Tribes member and Spokane tribal descendant, secured $9,000 to lead workshops teaching Native art forms and cultural lessons. The project “The Eleven Gatherings: Seasonal Stories, Lessons and Art From a Plateau Salish Perspective” will produce four group exhibits of works made by those involved.

With eight reservations in 200 miles of Spokane, Covington seeks to draw out and nurture Native artists and novices who have been underrepresented locally. Her art and cultural lessons will begin with seasonal stories from local tribes’ traditions. They will include bits of Spokane tribal language for context and explanation of indigenous principles.

Native filmmakers Misty and Hope Shipman-Ellingburg were awarded $5,000 to help produce their movie project addressing the issue of disappearances of Native girls titled “Tiger Lily Is My Little Sister.” The indigenous writers and producers, who are sisters from Spokane, plan to film in their hometown using English and Salish.

To add star power, they seek to employ actor Evan Adams, the iconic Thomas Builds-the-Fire from “Smoke Signals.” In 1997, “Smoke Signals” was the first feature film to be written, produced and directed by Native Americans.

It still holds the singular distinction of being the last such film to bear these credits. In addition to breaking personal barriers, the filmmakers hope to bring some healing to the indigenous community and accurately portray the lives of women on the reservation.

Local filmmaker DaShawn Bedford won $5,000 to produce a documentary on local basketball legend Bobby Jack Sumler and the larger history of Spokane as a basketball town. The film will focus on how Spokane Falls Community College Hall-of-Famer Sumler transformed the game and helped break racial barriers in the community.

Bedford also plans to explore how Spokane became home of Hoopfest, the largest, annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world.

Photographer Brian Deemy was awarded $2,500 to retrofit his Spokane Tintype Studio in order to allow subjects and students to experience firsthand wet plate collodion, a pre-Civil War photographic process also known as tintype.

The historically significant technique includes coating a glass or metal plate with collodion and dunking it in silver nitrate before loading the wet plate into the camera. Deemy will host workshops to teach the time-consuming, 150-year-old method to those interested in vintage and analog art forms.

Yes Is a Feeling, a new Spokane art gallery led by co-founder Roin Morigeau and established to showcase queer, inter-generational artists, will receive $2,500 in funding to support its mission. Yes Is a Feeling aims to help foster community in the local region.

The gallery invites Spokane and the greater Spokane community to participate in workshops, group meeting space and events that focus on centering and respecting the lives of queer, POC, trans, femme, two-spirit, low-income, sick and disabled individuals.

Melissa Huggins, Spokane Arts executive director, said the SAGA funding represents more than individual contributions and support for local artists. The investment is crucial to the health and vibrancy of the Greater Spokane community.

“Investing in culture and creativity creates a ripple effect that benefits the entire community by making Spokane a place we love to live,” Huggins said.

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