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Interchange awards 16 grants of $20,000 to regional artists

Three women performing artists stand on a bridge between El Paso and Juarez, with a crown of seeds cascading down their backs

We are pleased to announce the inaugural grantees of the Interchange program, supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact in M-AAA’s six-state region of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. This pilot program is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The sixteen grantees, our Interchange 2019 Fellows, represent all six states with projects in a variety of disciplines, reaching communities both rural and urban. M-AAA also recognizes twenty-four finalists whose projects represent high levels of excellence but were not funded.

Each funded artist will receive a project grant of $20,000, as well as convenings and peer connection to other 2019 Interchange grantees. This will take the form of professional development retreats and ongoing mentoring through the life of the funded projects. Like the Artists360 program in Northwest Arkansas, Interchange builds upon M-AAA’s expertise in supporting and activating artist networks that has been developed through the Artist INC program.

“We were impressed but not surprised by the quality of proposals we received from throughout the region,” said Todd Stein, president and CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance. “We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for recognizing the need for funding of this kind of work happening outside of coastal arts hubs. Congratulations to all the grantees, and we appreciate all who applied.”

Grantee Mark Menjivar has been awarded for Open Letters, a project that will engage Texas communities in dialogue around capital punishment issues by inviting individuals on Texas death row to author open letters to society about the trauma they and their families have experienced post-conviction. The public will be invited to events where the letters will be read and a facilitated structure for response will be provided. Transcripts from the events will later be compiled into a publication for distribution. “Getting this level of support will allow me to focus on working directly with the people and communities participating in the project,” says Menjivar. “It allows me to fully enter in, knowing the project will be supported throughout each step. It makes a huge difference.”

Learn more about the grantees and finalists

Pictured: Only Seeds, Performance Action, November 2016 Paso del Norte International Bridge, El Paso, TX + Ciudad Juárez and Downtown El Paso, TX; Performance by Xochitl Rodriguez, US, Maria McCullough, US and Marina Garbalena, MX; Portable, Improvised Sound Design by Randy