As a Richmond Arts & Culture Commissioner, I’ve witnessed the power of the Neighborhood Public Art mini-grant. This small financial investment provides hope and encouragement for the community. With numerous success stories, then why is this program being eliminated?
Last year, Tatiana Ortiz received a grant part of the Richmond Neighborhood Public mini-grant for The Scribbler Artist. The project taught local elementary students how to write and illustrate their own books. The response was overwhelmingly supportive. Ms. Ortiz took a chance to apply and today is a rising star in our community as a woman, mother, artist, and wife to a police officer.
Josue Hernandez is a young artist who received a neighborhood public min-grant in 2015 and 2016. When the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission first met Josue, he was reserved and quiet. A photographer of Richmond bicycle culture, he has matured into an outgoing and confident soul. A transformation made possible by offering opportunities to individuals like Josue.
Michele Wells conceived The War At Home project while working as a fellow at the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, MA. The monies allowed her to masterfully utilize local outreach to showcase the play at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. Wells’ story eerily mimicked current events of inequality and discrimination. The Richmond Neighborhood Public mini-grant made this necessary project a reality.
These are the stories of three remarkable individuals given a chance to flourish thanks to the Neighborhood Public Art mini-grants program. The goal is to uplift and provide opportunities that build strong communities. $65,000 is an investment celebrating our diversity. Not funding this program dismisses and disrespects its importance. This type of rebranding diminishes Richmond’s legacy.
I support temporary cuts to higher paid city employees part of balancing the budget to save future projects. My work for the city along with other commissioners is unpaid without any monetary compensation. The top paid Richmond city officials can make a temporary sacrifice like many volunteers do everyday. It would cost each full-time employee $88.44 to cover the program. It’s time to unite and share the responsibility.
Tatiana Ortiz. Josue Hernadez. Michele Wells. Remember these names. They represent the hope and future for Richmond and beyond. The Neighborhood Public Art mini-grant program was there to provide that little push and platform. Imagine the work that still needs to be done.