Art helps build community connectedness

A few weeks ago Michael J. Solender interviewed me for the Duke Energy Illumination blog. We had a nice chat, talking about why supporting the arts is important and how it improves our communities. The interview is now live. Thank you Michael. Read the story below or on the Illumination blog.

Jessica Singerman in the studio
Photo Credit: Tim Bowman

Support for artists helps build creative spirit

Duke Energy’s arts grants contribute to quality of life in smaller North Carolina towns

Abstract landscape painter Jessica Singerman doesn’t live in a major art market like New York or London, so taking advantage of the digital universe helps bring her work to a wide audience.

She is developing her website to include digital video components to help demystify the creation process by sharing her approach and inspiration behind her art. That project got a boost with a 2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant. The company, through the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, awarded nearly $25,000 to 14 area artists.

“Receiving the grant and seeing the support for artists, especially in smaller communities, demonstrate that our work is valued,” said Singerman of Winston-Salem, N.C. “Artists, especially in smaller communities, don’t have many opportunities like this, it means a lot.”

For artists working in music, film, literature, dance, visual art and craft and living in Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin counties in North Carolina, the regional artist grant program is making an impact. The company has given grants to arts councils in a number of other counties in the state, often supporting arts in schools.

“Investments in the arts are what make living in our communities more interesting and are a wonderful expression of the people that live in those communities,” said Amy Strecker of the Duke Energy Foundation. “One of the things that is great about funding arts programs in smaller communities is that there are not as many funding options as in some of our urban centers. This is a great way for us to continue to support artists who might have fewer opportunities available to them.”

The entire community benefits from a thriving arts culture, said Catherine Heitz New, deputy director of the Arts Council. Economic development, tourism and educational rewards are byproducts of creative entrepreneurs contributing to the fabric of cultural life in the region.

“These grants give artists the space, time and resources to experiment and develop ideas that become great art,” she said. “This is so important for artists and creative entrepreneurs and essential for us in fulfilling our reputation because they are the lifeblood of the cultural ecosystem.

“A vibrant arts culture is a significant driver behind the ability to recruit and retain talent into the community. From the standpoint of education, arts programing is an essential part of what sets Forsyth County schools apart and has allowed them to become a leader in many ways with regards to arts education.”

Jimmy Flythe, Duke Energy’s west region community relations manager, sees the difference the support can make.

“When companies look to move here and are evaluating our community,” Flythe said, “it’s important to show them the vibrancy and strong quality of life in our area. The arts are definitely a large part of that.”

For Singerman, “Art helps build community connectedness. The process of creation is not linear. Without a defined end goal of getting something done, art gives people the opportunity to dream and experience the joy associated with that. Through exploration and conversation, art can help create empathy and understanding of others. It’s wonderful to be part of that broader discussion.”

Jessica Awarded 2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant

2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant Recipients
2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant Recipients – Photo credit: Owens Daniels

I’m excited to announce that I was awarded a 2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant! Thank you Arts Council of Winston Salem and Forsyth County and Duke Energy for believing in my work, and congratulations to the other recipients. Read below for the press release from Yes! Weekly.

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has made 14 awards to local artists through its Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant program. A total of $24,500 will allow the artists to further their artistic professional development through a specific project.

Award recipients include Kate Carey (Literature/Davidson Co.), Mike Chamis (Film/Forsyth Co.), Amy da Luz (Theatre/Forsyth Co.), Owens Daniels (Visual Art, Forsyth Co.), Zach Deas (Craft/Davie Co.), Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet (Visual Art, Forsyth Co.), Nathan Ross Freeman (Film/Forsyth Co.), Kendra Harding (Music/Forsyth Co.), Cashavelly Morrison (Music/Forsyth Co.), Zach McCraw (Visual Art/Stokes Co.), David Petty (Storytelling/Forsyth Co.), Leo Rucker (Visual Art/Forsyth Co.), Jessica Singerman (Visual Art/Forsyth Co.), and Will Willner (Visual Art/Forsyth Co.).

14 local artists receive a total of $24,500 in career-development awards

Regional artist grants are available to artists working in the disciplines of music, film, literature, dance, visual art and craft and residing in Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin counties. The program is sponsored by Duke Energy and supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

“We are especially pleased with the variety of artistic projects that these artists will be working on this year,” said Dara Silver, Grant Program Manager for The Arts Council. “These awards are a way The Arts Council invests in our local creative entrepreneurs by helping them move forward a project so that they can leverage additional opportunities and commissions.”

Cashavelly Morrison is an American-Alt Country singer and songwriter whose debut album The Kingdom Belongs to a Child received the Independent Music Award for Best Alt Country Album. This grant will support the completion efforts of their second album, Hunger. “We’ve been writing and recording our second studio album for two years, and now because of this grant, we can complete the mixing, mastering, and printing to get it out into the world at a time when the songs will be particularly timely and culturally relevant. It’s support like this that makes the artistic dreams of working parents possible,” said Cashavelly Morrison.

Nathan Freeman is an award winning screenwriter, director, and filmmaker. This grant will support the production of his next feature film, Gem, about an Archangel named Gem who is involved in a prophetic story of religions at war. Nathan said, “This award is most appreciated and will support the film needs of Gem by helping to cover costs for the local hiring of costume and design and production artists.”

Jessica Singerman is an award recognized artist and received her MFA from the University of Delaware. Her works are inspired by the poetry of nature’s changing color, light, and the passing of time. This grant will allow her to obtain a professional photography and video equipment to support the marketing efforts of her works on her website, blog, and social media. “This grant is an investment in the infrastructure of my career as a working artist. It will help me to better document my work and to build my web presence. Having an internet presence is vital for an artist because it allows them share their work worldwide. Viewers are able to gain a deeper understanding of my work and process and it is a way to share that process with other artists who are still learning and exploring their craft.”

Winston-Salem, known as a City of Arts and Innovation, and Forsyth County have a robust arts community that enriches the lives of area residents every day and accounts in large part for the recognition they continue to receive as a great place to live, learn, work and play. The Arts Council raises funds and advocates for the arts, sponsors events in conjunction with other arts organizations, promotes and funds arts education, creates cultural and learning opportunities, develops social capital and aids economic development. Last year, The Arts Council made 98 awards totaling $1,699,500.

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