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$250,000 in Practice-Based Catalyze Grants Awarded to 25 Artists in Central Arkansas

By Elizabeth Snell

Catalyze, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance, has announced the second cohort of central Arkansas artists to receive practice-based grants of $10,000 each as well as professional development training to support their needs as working artists.

The goal of the program—which combines money, mentorship, and management—is designed to ignite the careers of the 25 selected individual artists who reside in the eligible central Arkansas counties.

Made possible through the generous support of the Windgate Foundation, this award brings the program’s total direct investment in artists to $500,000 over two years.

Unlike many other grant programs, these practice-based grants are not specific to one art project, but rather support the artist’s overall creative practice. Funds can be used for any purpose that helps the artists develop their creative work. From studio rent, to child care, to equipment, to research, the awards aim to support artists in their processes, with an understanding that artists know what resources they need to let their creative work soar. 

“This model says we trust artists and we trust them to make decisions for themselves about what they best need to be able to advance their work,” says Diane Scott, director of M-AAA artist services. “We’re grateful to the Windgate Foundation for their support of the Catalyze program and for their leadership in furthering the long-term vitality of artists and the creative economy of central Arkansas.”


Artists selected to participate in the newest cohort of Catalyze represent a wide range of disciplines and perspectives:

Joshua Asante (Multidisciplinary Artist) 

Shunn Berry (Film and Performing Arts, Theatre) 

Ebony Blevins (Fine Art Photojournalist) 

Doug Burnett (Americana Singer/Songwriter)

Tawanna Campbell (Singer, Voice Teacher and Stage Actor)

Jimmy Cunningham (Voiceover Artist and a Curator of Community Art)

Andy Denton (Sculptor and Potter)

Christopher Fulmer (Musician, Vocalist, Songwriter and Actor)

x freelon (Blues Aesthetic Artist and Multimedia Storyteller) 

Jasmine Harris (Poet and Essayist)

Faye Hedera (Portrait Artist and Composer)

Tig Kashala (Interdisciplinary Afro-cultural Costume Artist)

Korto Momolu-Briggs (Fashion designer and 3D Art Creative)

Glenda McCune (Teaching Artist and Visual Artists)

Bethannie Newson-Steelman (Muralist, Painter, Puppeteer, Installation Artist, Exhibition Curator, Graphic Designer, Performer)

Simeon Norfleet Jr. (Documentary Photographer & Filmmaker)

Kimberly O’Bannon (Swamp Rock Singer-Songwriter, Musician, Videographer, and Content Creator)

Y. Hope Osborn (Creative Non-fiction Author, Editor, Ecological Architectural Photographer, Researcher, Web Designer, Digital and Mixed-media Artist)

Kourtlynn Pinkins (Visual Arts, Filmmaking, Acting, Theatre, Technical Theatre & Rug Making)

Cliff Prowse (Music Arranger and Producer)

Susan Erwin Prowse (Singing Piano Entertainer)

Steve Spencer (Painter and Three Dimensional Painter / Sculptor)

Te’Arra Stewart (Multidisciplinary Visual Artist, Entrepreneur, and Teacher)

CC Mercer Watson  (Alchemizer of Cloth, Culture, and Storytelling)

Jason Weinheimer (Music Producer, Songwriter, and Musician)


View recipients’ biographies and headshots here.  


Through the application process, artists were selected on the basis of their artistry and the creation of a balanced peer cohort. Artists will participate in a multidisciplinary peer-based learning cohort, and attend a professional development convening the weekend of June 22–23, 2024, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Artists of all creative disciplines living in the Arkansas counties of Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lonoke, Perry, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Saline, Van Buren, White, and Yell were eligible to apply for this program.

“Selection as a Catalyze grant recipient gave me confidence to say, yes, this work is worthy. This project is worth pursuing. It opened doors in the community,” says Derek Slagle, PhD, who used the Catalyze practice-based grant in the first cohort to expand his collaborative conservation photography work.  

For Slagle, practice-based funding was only a part of the benefit of the program: “Prior to this grant, I talked about my work with other photographers, but insight about my work has come from other types of artists. The peer-based experiences are great. Catalyze was permission to go.” 

Learn more about Catalyze.

Since 2009, M-AAA has offered cohort-based professional development opportunities to hundreds of artists in central Arkansas through its Artist INC Live and Artist INC Express programs through support from the Windgate Foundation.

Learn more about M-AAA’s shift to practice-based grants.


About the Windgate Foundation
The Windgate Foundation was established in 1993 and is a private, family foundation based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Windgate’s goal is to advance contemporary craft and strengthen visual arts education in the United States. The foundation also supports children and youth in the State of Arkansas. Additional information can be found at www.windgatefoundation.org.