The Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council hosts a celebration in honor of its 2019 grantees at the Pathways Gathering Space on Thursday, April 11. A reception and presentations by a number of artists will feature work from up-Island artists, including Carole Vandal, a Native American musician representing the Aquinnah Cultural Center; Dance the Yard and Friends; filmmakers Ken Wentworth and Liz Witham; Brian Ditchfield for the M.V. Film Festival’s Cinema Circus; and Donald Nitchie reading poems from the Poetry Drop-In.
Rob Hauck, the MVCC chair since 2017, explained the thinking behind the celebration. “We hold a celebratory event every year honoring the new group of grantees. This year, with the help of Pathways, we are initiating a three-year effort to spotlight the grantees from different areas of the Island,” Hauck said. “Our reception will honor all of the 2019 recipients, and feature projects submitted by applicants from Aquinnah and Chilmark. Next year, the spotlight will be on West Tisbury and Tisbury; the following year on Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Our goal is to make it easier for residents and town officials to come and experience what the Cultural Council is doing to help their communities as well as the Island as a whole.”
The MVCC program is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which in turn receives funding for this project from the National Endowment for the Arts and the state legislature. There are 239 Massachusetts Local Cultural Councils statewide. The M.V. council receives additional generous support from each of the Island towns. The selection committee is made up of three representatives from each town, with appointments staggered; representatives can serve two consecutive three-year terms. This season, the MVCC was able to award $42,000, giving out 44 grants. There were 51 applicants, which collectively requested the cumulative amount of $123,000, well over the actual amount available. The smallest award was $425, and the largest $1,700. Hauck says because of the limited funds available, “no one receives the entire amount of their request.”
The list of grantees will be published in the town reports distributed at annual town meetings. The next grant competition will be in the fall. While the MVCC does not have a mailing list, information can be gathered at a meeting hosted by the MVCC at the West Tisbury library this coming September to help guide people considering applying for 2020 support. Online applications will be available Sept. 1. The type of projects funded are varied, including music, fairs, dance, writing, film, theater, history, and more.
Wendy Weldon, Chilmark painter and selection committee member, says, “I enjoy serving on the council, as it gives various kinds of artists on the Island an opportunity to receive support for their projects. It’s pleasurable to review the applications, as there are many compelling proposals that offer a real benefit to the Island community. Our application process is not horribly gruesome, which means the experience of applying is relatively easy.”
One of the awardees is the Aquinnah Cultural Center, a not-for-profit organization distinct from the Wampanoag Tribe, housed in a building perched on an Aquinnah cliff. “Our mission is to tell the story of the Wampanoag people, past and present, and how we are contributing to the future,” explained ACC board member Adriana Ignacio. “We are grateful to the MVCC for our grant, as it helps us produce our annual summertime Artisans Festival. We’re delighted that Native American flutist and hand drummer Carole Vandal will share her music at the MVCC event.”
Filmmakers Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth of Film-Truth Productions, who received a grant in support of their film “Keepers of the Light,” will introduce their new documentary project, “North Atlantic Right Whales.”
Hauck, a believer in the significance of the arts for both the artist and the public, says, “I’m both a painter and a writer, and so it’s not a leap for me to be committed to preserving and advancing the arts. On the community level, the Island’s distinctive culture is what helps to define us. The Vineyard is fortunate in a large number of people who not only appreciate the arts but who are actively engaged in creating them. Through our poetry, prose, music, theater, film, painting, and other forms of creative expression, we nourish and preserve what makes us unique as a community.”
Celebration of awardees of the M.V. Cultural Council grants for 2019, Thursday, April 11, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, Pathways Gathering Space, Chilmark. Appetizers and beverages will be served throughout the free event. At 6:15 pm, a selection of Chilmark and Aquinnah artists will share examples of their work.