Northwest CT Arts Council announces grant recipients

Photo of Emily M. Olson

TORRINGTON — Groups and individuals in the northwest corner recently were named winners of a grant that will help them produce creative programs for children and adults, including theater performances, film, music and exhibits.

The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council named the grant recipients for the state Office of the Arts in Northwest CT for 2020. The grants are part of the Regional Initiative Grant, administered by the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, as well as the Arts Project, Arts Learning and Supporting Arts in Place grants, administered through the Office of the Arts.

The grants represent a $104,600 investment in Northwest Connecticut that will make an impact on the communities and towns in which these organizations and artists are working, according to Rufus DeRham, executive director of the arts council.

Recipients are chosen after an open application period, DeRham said. “Anyone in the region can apply for the funding, and we hold several informational sessions at the start of the year,” he said. “After they apply the state sends a list of applicants from our region (in northwest Connecticut) and we send those names to an independent jury made up of people from our region. The applicants are decided on, based on factors of feasibility ... and what their impact is on the community.

“The scores from the jury are weighted and sent back to the state, for final distribution,” DeRham said. “We make sure the final paperwork is valid, and depending on the final budget numbers, the recipients are announced.”

Those who apply for the funding must use the money for their event or program, which is described in the application. “The grants represent a pretty significant investment on the state level — 10 percent,” DeRham said. “Since the northwest corner only represents about 7 percent of the state’s arts, it’s pretty impressive.

“Of course, we wish the state would fund more arts programs,” he said. “Connecticut only invests about 42 cents per capita in the arts, while states surrounding us invest at least $2 per capita. We are a little behind in investing in arts and culture, which represents about 5 percent of the state’s total economy.”

The REGI Grant, which awards between $1,000 to $4,000 to small arts projects in the region that make an impact on local communities, went to five recipients:

 Rana Justice Rylander-Strawson will hold local, all-ages music shows at the Noelke Gallery on Water Street in Torrington.

 Boondocks Film Society will screen the film “Wild Style” in Torrington and North Canaan, a pre-screening hip-hop performance, and street art workshop for young local artists.

 Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children’s Theatre will produce a performance of “Elka and The Guardian Gryphon” for seniors at Geer Village by students from three schools in Region One, including Cornwall Consolidated, Lee Kellogg and Sharon Center School.

 Makery Coworking in New Milford will launch an artist showcase project featuring local art aligned with the maker movement, curated by Shelton artist Kayla Ek.

Burlington School District 10 will invite students around the region to attend educational children’s concerts in collaboration with the Nutmeg Symphony Orchestra. The concerts will aim to stimulate intellectual curiosity in music and encourage participation in school music programs.

The Arts Project Grant awards art projects of excellence across the state in amounts between $5,000 and $15,000. This year NWCT has three recipients:

 American Mural Project in Winsted will collaborate with three diverse public schools, including Pearson School, Montessori Magnet School, and Oliver Wolcott Technical School, to create all-school murals that reflect people and labor in their communities.

 Joyful Noise is producing “Cantata: A Lost Musical Tradition Made New Through Our Shared Humanity,” to be performed by world class musicians, with a focus on connecting music to underserved communities in the Hartford and Torrington areas.

 Regional School District 1 is partnering with the Civic Life Project on Documentary Filmmaking for Social Impact, which teaches the art of filmmaking to middle-schoolers by having them tell a community story.

The Supporting Arts in Place Grant provides operational support to organizations across the state. NWCT’s recipients are: Five Points Center for the Visual Arts and Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Torrington; Landmark Community Theatre in Thomaston; TheaterWorks and Village Center for the Arts in New Milford; After School Arts Program (ASAP!), Pilobolus, and Washington Arts Association in Washington Depot.

The Arts Learning Grant provides $500-$1,000 to connect Pre-K through grade 12 schools and citizens with a Connecticut arts experience. The arts council’s recipient is the Litchfield Historical Society, which will workwith artists Thomasina Levy and Leslie Johnson on “Poetry in the Gardens: Past and Present.” The arts-infused program integrates science, history, language arts, and music at Tapping Reeve Meadow in Litchfield.

DeRham said the arts council is preparing for two big events in coming months. “The Litchfield Hills Creative Awards are coming up on Nov. 22 at the Warner Theatre,” he said. “The other event we have is the release of a report by the National Association of State Arts Agencies, on rural prosperity in the arts. We’re aiming to invite artists in the region as well as state representatives, local officials ... to have a (discussion) on the report and how we can have more collaboration for the arts in this area.”

The event will be held at Five Points Center for the Visual Arts located on the former UConn campus off Route 4 in Torrington.

The mission of the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council is to engage the public in building a strong and connected arts and culture community that is integral to economic development and the collective well-being of the region. The council is supported in part by the DECD/Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation and the Connecticut Community Foundation. For information, call 860-618-0075 or visi