Haitian-New Yorkers included in $33,000 entertainment grant

Thanks to a $33,000 grant from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD)’s online series, Beat of the Boroughs NYC Online, which highlights the artistry of the city’s leading immigrant performers from around the world, will continue through the spring of 2021.

The grant, in addition to previous funding from the Scherman Foundation and the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, will allow CTMD to spotlight 100 New York city-based immigrant and folk artists, including Haitians.

According to the release the artists — including several National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award winners — represent the strength and diversity of the cultural sector in the City’s five boroughs, with traditions hailing from Haiti, West Africa, among other areas.

The livelihoods of immigrant artists in New York City have been severely impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many unable to support themselves due to venues shutting down and the lack of endowments. A recent report by the Center for an Urban Future found that many immigrant-led and immigrant-serving arts organizations are facing fiscal catastrophe, reporting revenue losses amounting to 50 percent or more of their annu­al budgets.

The report pointed out that more than during any previous era however, immigrants have become pivotal to the success of the arts in New York. The number of immigrant artists has grown 69 percent since 1990, compared to a 30 percent increase in U.S.-born artists.

“New York City’s traditional and folk artists have been particularly impacted by both the pandemic and the anti-immigrant political climate in our country.

Amid the pandemic, many of these artists have structural impediments including the digital divide and language barriers to access federal relief funds or private sources of funding. Now more than ever we need to support these artists, who have suffered losses because of canceled concerts, performances, exhibitions, and other events,” said Peter Rushefsky, executive director of CTMD. “It is imperative that we come together as a city to support and celebrate our immigrant communities.”

Beat of the Boroughs: NYC Online will showcase the immense talents of our artists and further the public’s understanding and appreciation of their work during these trying times,” said Andrew Colwell, PhD, project director and staff ethnomusicologist at CTMD.

 “This new grant will allow us to connect with and support more immigrant artists in our city when they need our help most. This pandemic and its effects are far from over, so we are incredibly grateful to the Howard Gilman Foundation for providing us — and them — with the opportunity to share their stories, their music, and their passion. Their voices — whether through music, movement, or the spoken word — serve as a powerful platform for continued advocacy for traditional arts in our city of immigrants.”

To date, the series has included up-close profiles of the life and work of leading artists.

Organizers hope the series will build more support for immigrant artists who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and for CTMD, particularly as the nonprofit continues to highlight the artistic diversity within New York City, where millions of Americans can trace their immigrant ancestors. CTMD encourages donations at https://ctmd.org/donate/.

Since the start of the series in November, CTMD has highlighted three artists or ensembles each week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Audiences can continue to tune in on those days at 5:00 pm to CTMD’s YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/CTMDProgramsConcerts or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CTMDnyc.

Beat of the Boroughs: NYC Online is made possible through the generosity of the New York Community Trust’s NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, the Scherman Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Founded in 1968, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance has worked closely with dozens of diverse communities over the past five decades in creating a number of ongoing arts programs, festivals and community-based cultural organizations. Each year, CTMD serves thousands of New Yorkers through a full calendar of programs that provide unique opportunities to experience and participate in the City’s rich cultural traditions. Find out more online at www.ctmd.org.

The Howard Gilman Foundation supports a cross-section of New York City-based performing arts organizations of varying structure, style, and budget size. Above all, the organization is committed to serving geographically and culturally diverse organizations devoted to excellence in both artistic achievement and audience experience.

The Foundation is named after Howard , third generation of his family to run the Gilman Paper Company, the largest privately owned paper and building products company in the country. Today it honors Mr. Gilman’s memory by supporting three of his most beloved disciplines — dance, music, and theatre — and dedicates its efforts to organizations that are based in his birthplace and hometown: New York City.

More from Around NYC