Leeway Featured In Philadelphia Gay News
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Leeway awards several LGBT projects
June 23, 2016
by Paige Cooperstein for PGN
Image: Still from "After the Date", by Iris Devins (ACG '16)
Several LGBT projects — including a mobile photo booth to document ballroom culture and a live-streamed music event showcasing queer and trans DJs — received funding from the Leeway Foundation. The group supports female and trans artists.
The Art and Change grant, awarded twice a year, announced its latest winners this month. Thirty-one projects received $2,500 each. Nearly 100 projects applied for funding. The deadline for the next cycle of the grant is Aug. 1.
“One thing we saw, particularly within the LGBT community, is the role of the DJ as a cultural producer in queer spaces,” said Sara Zia Ebrahimi, program director for Leeway. “There can be a lot of pressure to have artists affiliated with a nonprofit. But that makes it hard for individual artists, like DJs, to get funding for experimental work.”
She said the importance of the DJ is an especially meaningful conversation after the Orlando shooting.
“I can’t imagine what it feels like to have that safe space on the dance floor so horribly violated,” Ebrahimi said.
She added submissions from trans artists have shifted in recent years toward stories about dating. Two projects that received funding in this grant cycle addressed the topic. “After the Date,” a short fictional film by Iris Devins, follows the romance between Nate, a straight cisgender man, and Emma, a transgender photographer. Tristan Powell is working on “Break in Bloom,” a semi-autobiographical short film that depicts the relationship between a cisgender man and a transgender woman. The film is expected to premiere soon at the New Hope Arts Center.
“We’re really interested in artists who are convening with their community,” Ebrahimi said, “looking at their work as engaging their community in dialogue.”
She added the Leeway Foundation started in 1993 for female artists. Around 2003, the focus expanded to include transgender artists. The organization wanted to create a feminist space that looked at gender in a broad fashion.
For more information on the foundation or its grantees, visit www.leeway.org