COMMUNITY ARTS

With community resilience as one of the core values of The Lia Fund, our arts funding focused on community-based cultural centers and performing-arts projects. We supported organizations that are committed to providing opportunities for cultural and self-expression to people in underserved communities, especially organizations that grew out of the communities they serve.


In neighborhoods enduring economic neglect and its accompanying pressures and violence, a community cultural center can offer a safe space for youth to find their voice, for families to celebrate their cultural heritage, and for people of various ethnic backgrounds to come together and envision a brighter future for their community. Our grants supported a community center that regularly commissions local theater performances as well as hosting weekly open mic nights, and another whose classes for youth range from West African dance to traditional mariachi music to ballet.


Performing-arts projects that work collaboratively with members of underserved communities are able to present original work developed and performed by people whose voices and stories would otherwise go untold or have marginal exposure. Thus, they offer a transformative experience to both participants and audience members. Funded projects ranged from empowering young people to create and perform poetry as an engine of social change, to using theater to transform the lives of HIV-positive women of color.


We value and support all types of cultural expression, whether longstanding cultural traditions, the exploration of imagination and creativity, or the development of artistic voice about the critical issues of our time. These may take shape as theater, dance, or spoken-word performance. The crucial facets of organizations we supported were that they have deep roots in their communities, engage community members in their art, and provide access to traditionally underserved people.

 

Of particular interest were projects that combined our focus on Community Arts with the other Lia Fund areas of Climate Solutions and/or Holistic Health & Healing.