Newton Cultural Council (NCC) representatives and residents of the city, gathered in Newton City Hall to celebrate recipients of NCC grants and their projects on Thursday evening.
“We’re all cheerleaders for arts and culture,” Christopher Pitts, co-chair of the NCC, said. “I mean, building culture is what we’re all about in Newton.”
Every year, the NCC provides grants to local artists. This past year, the NCC distributed 54 grants, totaling $51,034. The grantees come from a wide variety of cultures, and their projects include music, dancing, writing, painting, and more.
“It’s an incredible group of people in this room with deep talent and amazing energy to give back,” Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said when addressing the grantees. “I’m grateful to be in a position to support it all.”
Each year, the state of Massachusetts allocates money to organizations within the commonwealth to give out as grants.
“So the state of Massachusetts gives us $25,000 dollars to put out as grants,” Pitts said. “And this mayor is the first one who has said ‘Well I’ll match them.’ Now you match that and it’s $50,000.”
With this increased budget, the NCC has been able to fund spirited projects, such as FenceART—art submitted to and then displayed on fences throughout the city.
“We’ve been lucky enough to get a grant every year,” said Ellen Fisher, curator of the Newton FenceART project and one of the recipients of funds from the NCC.
The FenceART project showcases various art forms, carefully choosing 20 art pieces from 20 different artists to display around the city for a span of about 10 weeks. The art submissions range from ceramics and sculptures to paintings and photographs.
Jamaal Eversley, curator of the “Real F.R.I.E.N.D.S” and “This is America” art exhibits in Newton, received two separate grants in order to fund his artistic visions.
The NCC’s push to heighten the arts in the city of Newton is making a noticeable difference, according to Pitts and Eversley.
“These two [projects] were successful because of these grants,” Eversley said.
Although the NCC is making efforts toward increasing public art throughout the city, there is still some concern.
“It’s an uphill battle, because in American society, we think of the arts kind of last,” Pitts said. “It’s unnerving.”
With projects such as FenceART, and Eversley’s art exhibits, however, the NCC continues to make strides to create a more lively Newton community, according to Pitts.
“The more you do public art, the more you do art in general, it starts to spread,” he said. “It creates noise, and people show up for that.”