Press Release: ArtsMemphis Grantees Use Art to Tackle Social Issues


For immediate release

MEMPHIS, TN (October 2, 2017) — ArtsMemphis has announced the recipients of its 2017 Arts Build Communities (“ABC”) grants, administered in conjunction with the Tennessee Arts Commission.  The ABC grant program supports projects that broaden access to arts experiences, address community quality of life issues through the arts, or enhance the sustainability of asset-based cultural enterprises.  It is open to nonprofit organizations in Fayette, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton counties.

Altogether, ArtsMemphis awarded nearly $50,000 in its most recent round of ABC grants.  Specific grants ranged from $500 to $2,500, and the list of recipients included several groups that are tackling social issues through arts-related programs.For example, Latino Memphis received a grant for their project, “Barrier Free: A Socially Engaged Art Installation” (pictured above, courtesy of ioby.)  This project explores the impact of policies and beliefs that exclude people based on their nationality, race, or religion.  The installation includes an 8’ tall by 40’ wide Plexiglas barrier wall, comprising photos of diverse Memphians.


Another funded project, led by Neighborhood Christian Center, addresses the lack of cultural enrichment opportunities for youth in North Memphis.  Each year, during public school spring break, NCC mobilizes over 100 volunteers to transform their North Memphis Center into a miniature version of a foreign country, complete with local arts experiences.  The event, known as “Spring Jam,” is completely free, and it attracts hundreds of underprivileged youth from North Memphis.  In recent years, NCC has created immersive, international experiences of Japan, Nigeria, and Greece, among other countries.  Funds from their ABC grant will help them highlight Germany in spring of 2018.

“With the ABC program, we’re able to work with the Tennessee Arts Commission to invest in powerful projects that spark dialogue around urgent issues,” said Tracy Lauritzen-Wright, Director of Grants & Initiatives at ArtsMemphis.

In addition to helping social service organizations, the ABC grant program benefits traditional arts groups like Project: Motion Dance, Lauderdale County Council of Arts, and Voices of the South.  Overall, ArtsMemphis was able to fund arts-based projects within 32 different organizations, cutting across many different areas of the nonprofit community.

About Tennessee Arts Commission
The Tennessee Arts Commission was created in 1967 by the Tennessee General Assembly with the special mandate to stimulate and encourage the presentation of the visual, literary, music and performing arts and to encourage public interest in the cultural heritage of Tennessee.


About ArtsMemphis
For over 50 years, ArtsMemphis has been sustaining Memphis' world-renowned cultural vitality and strengthening local communities through the arts.  We achieve this mission by amplifying awareness, driving support, and forging connections for artists and organizations.  In 2017, ArtsMemphis awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants to 72 different organizations and eight individual artists.  For more information, visit

For inquiries or additional information, please contact William Murray, Director of Development and Communications for ArtsMemphis, at 901-341-0401 or [email protected]



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