HYANNIS — A new collective of four burgeoning arts organizations launched its first “house party” last week, using part of a $90,000 grant received through Mass development.
The event at Barn Guyer on South Street in Hyannis featured music, art, storytelling and special food with a diverse group of attendees.
George and co-director, Anastaci Pacella, surveyed a range of community members with his first $15,000 grant in 2021 from MassDevelopment’s Collaborative Workspaces Program on a project for a new coworking space.
What the grant will mean for Arts and Justice Collective
“What came out of it was that many were looking for a workspace. They were looking for more collaborative space,” George said.
She has also expressed interest in dance, food, artists of color and social justice issues.
The last grant awarded by the TDI Creative Catalyst Grant Program and administered by MassDevelopment will provide the opportunity for three projects over the coming year, including monthly house parties, the continued development of a co-working space and community arts center and the Arts and Justice Festival next summer.
The other three organizations that are/shared recipients of the grant are Membership Books, Voice of Cape Cod and Amplify POC Cape Cod. They will all be part of events and projects and will have the opportunity to be at the center of some with particular themes.
“We try not to have a single group under control,” George said. “Working together gives the opportunity to provide holistic services to the community.”
Initially in 2019, the Cordial Eye Gallery and Artists Space was in a city-owned building at 50 Pearl St., Hyannis, but was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Since then, the organization has been working virtually in a pop-up model, offering programs from different spaces.
One was a program for tweens, ages 9 to 11, at Hyannis Library. Another was an early childhood arts playgroup in spaces in Dennis and Hyannis. Working at different sites was “a wonderful way to get to know others in the community,” George said.
Create a Hub for Art and Social Justice in Downtown Hyannis
The other organizations in the partnership have worked separately and this new grant will provide an opportunity to work together towards common goals. These goals focus on art, culture, and equity with the ultimate goal of creating a center for arts and social justice in downtown Hyannis, according to the grant.
“We are proud that this award supports four women-led organizations, all led by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) who have invested deeply in the slow, thoughtful and grassroots work that we believe will truly transform our community,” the grant announcement said. “We have worked hard and in some cases made great sacrifices to get rid of harmful systems in our areas, all out of love for you, our neighbors.”
Pacella, a Cape Cod native, artist and former art teacher at Barnstable Schools, said the new collective wanted to send a message to young people and people of color on Cape Cod that “they belong here and they can make this place their home.”
George, who has lived in Cape Town since 2016 and has a master’s degree in arts administration, said organizers want Cape Codders to feel it’s not just a place for tourists “and people to know they have a past, a present and a future on Cape Cod.”
Create a place of belonging
Erica Tso Haidas started Belonging Books on her own after feeling a sense of isolation as a non-majority person after arriving in Cape Town with her husband eight years ago. She wondered, “How can I make Cape Cod a place for me and my kids?
She proposed the concept of a space to gather and center voices and stories and people of color and other underrepresented groups in Cape Town. She is working to set up a program in schools called Writing Circles, where BIPOC students can have a safe space to belong with their peers.
Tso Haidas found that his goals overlapped with those of the Arts and Justice collective. His group will be involved in all house parties and other activities. She said that the collective can only offer good things for the community.
Tara Vargas Wallace’s organization, Amplify POC Cape Cod, aims to amplify businesses of people of color and close the wealth gap by promoting ownership by people of color. Amplify sponsors workshops on writing a business plan, grant proposal and business ideas, essentially a Business 101 course on how to start a business, she said. The organization also seeks to empower its community by targeting spots on nonprofit boards.
Vargas Wallace said her background was not in business, but spent 20 years working in social services with marginalized communities in New York and herself living in public housing in the Bronx and without shelter in Cape Town.
“My life has been impacted by all of this,” she said.
She is also an artist. His group also organizes vendor events, like festivals, with artists.
His idea for his organization was prompted by the murder of George Floyd. She describes herself as an activist: “I don’t just talk; I do.” She says the collective’s social justice mission coincided with hers, so it made sense to collaborate.
Vargas Wallace said the collective will showcase talent from all communities of color.
“I’ll make sure we’re visible,” she said.
The fourth member of the collective is Cape Cod Voices, but organizers there are unavailable for comment. Her mission set out in the Artists Collective grant was: “Cape Cod Voices is a non-profit organization created by women of color who grew up on Cape Cod. We strive to keep black and brown voices at the center of the conversation about race, to address issues of systemic and institutional racism on Cape Cod, and to advocate for students of color in local schools. “
“We’re really excited about this work,” George said of the collective. “We look forward to connecting with our neighbors and developing a creative life.”
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