Arts Council receives grant to support ArtsPlace youth arts apprenticeship program

Online Staff Report

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced April 29 that the Rockford Area Arts Council is one of 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Arts Council is recommended for a $20,000 grant to support ArtsPlace, a summer arts apprenticeship program for youth ages 14-18.

ArtsPlace youth apprentices work on teams under the direction and mentorship of professional artists for seven weeks. The youth create performances that are presented to the public and original artwork is exhibited and sold. Youth share in the proceeds earned from ticket and art sales.

This year, ArtsPlace teams and artists include: Dance, led by the Rockford Dance Company and Fatally Unique; Mixed Media/Printmaking by Bruce McDonald; Painting by Maya Simmons; Sculpture by Marco Basurto; and Spoken Word Poetry will be taught by Tricia Sheridan. ArtsPlace will be held in downtown Rockford at Riverfront Museum Park and Mendelssohn Hall.

Shigekawa said: “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable opportunities for the public to engage with the arts.”

Sharon Nesbit-Davis, education director of the Rockford Area Arts Council, said: “We are thrilled to receive this grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. When writing a grant to the NEA, you don’t have to prove the value of the arts, you have to prove you have a quality program worthy of funding.”

In August 2012, the NEA received 1,547 eligible applications for Art Works grants requesting more than $80 million in funding. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. The 817 recommended NEA grants total $26.3 million and span 13 artistic disciplines and fields. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff, and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, visit the NEA website at

For more about ArtsPlace and how to apply, visit the Rockford Area Arts Council website at or call (815) 963-6765.

Posted April 29, 2013

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