The Leeway Foundation's 2006 grantmaking year ended with the October cycle of the Art and Change Grant and Stage 2 of the Transformation Award with grants totaling $239,750. Along with the previous 2006 Art and Change Grant cycles in February and June, Leeway has given a total of $303,290 in 2006 to 59 women and trans artists across the Delaware Valley who use art as a tool for social change.
"The Leeway Foundation is breaking ground because those who create art and cultural work for social change are not always financially compensated for their work. The artists who get Leeway funding have a demonstrated track record of centralizing that which is too often on the margins and periphery of mainstream culture" says Aishah Shahidah Simmons, director and producer of the award-winning documentary NO!, recipient of the 2005 Transformation Award and review panel member for the 2006 award.
We are proud to share that Leeway is the first foundation to ever fund the art and social change work for many of the 59 grantees. Over the course of two years of art and change grantmaking, Leeway has been privileged to witness the vast array of social change-focused art in the region and remains committed to providing grants for this much-needed, yet under-funded work.
Leeway's grants provide financial support for women and trans artists committed to grassroots, community-based social change to do the work they want to do to create change in their lives and communities. The foundation supports risk-taking in its grantmaking, looking to fund artists whose work is often ignored because they might be nontraditional or self-taught artists, work and live in marginalized neighborhoods, or be artists who dare speak the truth about their lives and communities giving voice to issues such as racism, transphobia, and gentrification.
October 2006 Art and Change Grantees
The Art and Change Grant gives up to $2,500 to artists to fund various art for social change projects. The October 2006 grantees are:
Stephanie "Amma" Young
Angela "Sadio" Watson
Chelsa L. Clofer
Clarissa T. Sligh
Crystal L. Frazier
J. El and Maia Rosser
Keisha Hutchins and Shoba Sharma
Sarah Stefana Smith
Thembi Langa aka Sista Fayah
2006 Transformation Awardees
The Transformation Award gives $15,000 to artists who have been creating art and social change for the past five years or more, demonstrating a long-term commitment to this important work. The 2006 awardees are:
Maori Karmael Holmes
Na Tanya' Davina' Stewart
Ruth Naomi Floyd
Thelma Shelton Robinson
The Art and Change Grant review panel for the October 2006 cycle were poet Nava EtShalom, organizer Andi Perez, and media artist Serena Reed. The 2006 Transformation Award review panel members were filmmaker Simmons, performance and movement artist Marian Thambynayagam, and organizer Max Toth. Their bios are listed below.
REVIEW PANEL BIOS
October 2006 Art and Change Grant
Andi Perez is the Executive Director of Youth United for a Change (since 2004) and has worked there since 1999. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Andi attended public schools and went on to graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles. She spent the next several years as the Executive Director of Youth United for Community Action, a youth organizing agency in Los Angeles, before returning to her hometown and joining the YUC staff. She has published articles and essays on the importance of organizing, and youth organizing in particular. Andi is also Vice President of Norris Square Civic Association Board of Directors and a long-time resident of the community.
Muthi aka serena reed is an aspiring Artist. Using audio/video production as a medium to talk about social issues, she sees her work as a conduit for generating creative action and personal growth. Collaborating with other artists is crucial of her work in this age of multi-media production. With love, understanding, and genealogy as inspirations to the work, Muthi continues on this path.
Nava EtShalom learned to talk in Jerusalem and to read in Brooklyn; since then, she's been a Philadelphia poet. She is interested in language as a tool both to document and to reinvent political realities. Her work is concerned with place, bodies, and violence; her poetry has often dealt with power and resistance in Palestine/Israel. Nava also co-produces Queerspawn Diaries, a web-based radio documentary about adults from queer and transgender families. She has a BA from Oberlin College in Creative Writing for Social Change, and has received several awards for her writing. Her work has appeared recently in Mid-American Review and Vespertine Press, and is forthcoming in Court Green. She is a 2006 Pew Fellow in the Arts.
2006 Transformation Award
Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning African-American feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, international lecturer, published writer, and activist who uses the moving image, written and spoken word to advocate for left-of-center, radical progressive social change. A native Philadelphian, she spent eleven years, seven of which were fulltime, to produce, write, and direct NO!, a feature length documentary which unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence and healing in African-American communities. NO! received an audience award and a juried award at the 2006 San Diego Women Film Festival. Her previously completed videos Silence...Broken and In My Father's House, explore the issues of race, gender, and sexuality from a Black feminist lesbian perspective. Aishah is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the 2006 DC Rape Crisis Center's Visionary Award; a 2006 major grant from the Ford Foundation to support the international educational marketing and distribution of NO!; the 2006 National Award for Outstanding Response to and Prevention of Sexual Violence from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center; Leeway Foundation's 2005 Transformation Award; a 2005 Artist-in-Residency at Spelman College's Digital Moving Image Salon.
Marian Yalini Thambynayagam is a Queer Sri Lankan Tamil British-born American-raised woman living in Brooklyn by way of Texas. Marian's work centers around interdisciplinary collaboration. With Mango Tribe and other performance groups she works to create non-competitive spaces for marginalized communities to claim their voices, bodies, and stories using performance. Through experimental collective collaboration, she seeks to build artistic work that reflects the strength of communities while cherishing difference. She is interim Artistic Director of much-lauded APIA Women's performance group Mango Tribe with whom she also writes and performs. She was director of Mango Tribe's NYC run of Sisters in the Smoke and the Creation Myth Project (of which she also facilitated the writing and development). In addition, she was the Movement Director for Descendants of Freedom: A Futuristic Queer Hip Hop Odyssey. She is a volunteer with the SOS Collective at the Audre Lorde Project. Marian also engages in subway spectacle and street theater to address issues of violence, war, and exploitation. As a youth worker, Marian has worked with Freedom Academy High School in Brooklyn, Youth Solidarity Summer, and the Asian Arts Initiative's Youth Arts Workshop.
Max Toth is a national organizer for United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). His focus is student solidarity with campus workers through living wage campaigns, support for union organizing drives, and general support for increasing union strength on campus. Max is passionate about sharing the concrete victories students are forging for workers' rights from the food service workers in the cafeterias to sweatshops around the world. With prior work experience in web development and graphic design, he spends his days finding ways to consciously develop appealing and culturally relevant ways to communicate campaign and social justice messages. Prior to his work at USAS, he spent four years doing local anti-racist, community-based organizing work with groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the rare occasions of his free time, he enjoys drawing cartoons and trying to transfer his political work into engaging visuals. Max identifies as a 30-year-old white FTM transgendered person.
The Stage 2 review panel of the Transformation Award was facilitated by Trishala Deb: Trishala has worked as a service provider and community organizer in North Carolina, Georgia and New York City. Her work has focused on welfare rights, domestic violence, building progressive spaces within the South Asian community, as well as immigrant, women's, and LGBT rights. She is currently working for The Audre Lorde Project, a community organizing center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color in New York City. She is a steering committee member of the South Asian Lesbian Gay Association (SALGA) and a member of the Community Birthing Project, a local collective of doulas of color.