The past six months have, without a doubt, been the most challenging for our tourism and hospitality industry. It has tested the reserve of many a restauranteur, hotelier, arts organization and destination marketer. So, we are pleased to report that even during the pandemic, the Gwinnett Creativity Fund was able to create opportunity and sustainability for numerous arts organizations during a difficult time. The Creativity Fund is a collaboration of Explore Gwinnett and Gwinnett County, and is Gwinnett’s first ever arts specific grant fund, created to elevate and inspire our children, families and visitors.
Launched in May 2020, our first round of Operations Grants became, essentially sustainability grants for 501c-3 organizations struggling to stay afloat during the initial impact of the pandemic. We were pleased to award grants to a diverse selection of organizations large and small, not only to keep their lights on, but to create safer, healthier operations for future programming. Operations Grants were awarded to:
- Aurora Theatre
- Stone Mountain Chorus
- Atlanta Harmony Celebration
- Broad Street Concert Group
- North Gwinnett Arts Association
- Live Arts Theatre
- Gwinnett Ballet Theatre
- Hudgens Center for Art and Learning
- Suwanee Performing Arts
- Southeastern Railway Museum
In mid October, we announced our second round of grants, which will allow eleven organizations to create, develop and expand arts programming and initiatives to both our local and underserved communities. Projects encompass a wide range of initiatives, but a few of our favorites include the Hudgens Center Healing Arts “Project Welcome Home.” Their grant award will be used to launch a new (virtual) project, Project Welcome Home, for the military veterans who struggle with PTSD and re-assimilation, allowing them to build community through art, and develop coping skills through artistic expression. Another favorite recipient is the African American Dance Review, a partner with the locally led “Let’s Fo-kes.” The AADR tells the story of the African American dance and cultural experience throughout multiple eras including Jazz, wartime, Civil Rights, through today, with performances narrated and curated for the sensory challenged.
Public art was prominent among our applications with a Buford Highway Mural, Sugar Hill 3-D musical motif and Button Art public art receiving grants. The Creativity Fund will support the Suwanee Arts Centers Outdoor Art Workshop Series, The Spectrum Drama Club’s production of The Lion King (specifically created and performed for autistic and sensory challenged audiences), the African Film and Fashion Festival, the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre’s “Nutcracker” and Suwanee Performing Arts “Best of Nutcracker” and Lionheart Theatre’s “Playing in the Dark” Festival, celebrating all things scary and Halloween-centric. Aurora Theatre was able to create a streaming performance of “2 The Left” – an inspiring music-filled, multimedia experience chronicling the life and spiritual journey of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the controversial member of the 90s pop music phenomenon, TLC. 2021 is just around the corner, and we will open our Operations Grant in January 2021, with our Projects Grant expected to open in early May. Visit www.gwinnettcreativityfund.com for complete details, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!