An incubator of art in Upper Manhattan

For five years, the Arts Alliance has cultivated Hispanic artists. The fruits of their labor are on display…

When the Arts Alliance of Northern Manhattan (NoMAA) was created in 2007, the artistic community of Washington Heights and Inwood had no resources and support services and was not connected to any larger cultural movement.

“They had created their own space without much support,” said Sandra Garcia-Betancourt, executive director of NoMAA. “Many Dominican artists, for example, made art in Upper Manhattan. The art went from Manhattan directly to the Dominican Republic,” she said.

An investigation conducted in 2006 by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone led to the creation of a pool of a million dollars to create an institution that would serve the artists of these communities.

“NoMAA was born to provide the support that artists need to create and survive and not have to move from the community,” said Garcia-Betancourt.

In the four years since NoMAA, located at 178 Avenue Bennett, has awarded $238,000 in small grants of $500 to $ 2,000 to more than 150 artists, more than half of them Hispanic. The grants  have supported new work in all artistic disciplines.

At a time when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced deep cuts to the state budget, NoMAA handed $70,000 to 41 artists and arts organizations to help them continue their artistic endeavors.

Among the artists who have benefited from scholarships was Figure Mino Lora, the Dominican director of the theater group known as The People’s Theater. NoMAA funds helped this group to get the Union Square Award, including a $ 35,000 grant to bring bilingual theater programs for adults, seniors, teenagers and children to Manhattan.

Other scholarships have been awarded to the Argentine painter Andrea Cukier and Mexican cartoonist Felipe Galindo, who works with Mexican themes in New York.

“All are artists living in the community, including painters, sculptors, musicians, singers, writers,” said Garcia-Betancourt.

Among the programs and services is NoMAA’s El Paseo Annual de las Artes de Manhattan (The Annual Uptown Arts Stroll), a festival that promotes artists and community attractions during the month of June. It also includes the Salon des Artistas de  NoMAA (NoMAA’s Artists Salon), which performs four times a year, and  NoMAA’s TA Institute, a one-day conference that provides technical assistance workshops to local artists and arts organizations, annually in September.

“The artists who exhibit in our room just have to provide their art and we covered the cost of promotion, posters, etc…” He said.

Want to apply for a NoMAA grant?

The deadline for submitting your application for a grant from NoMAA is Friday, Oct. 14. Artists who apply must attend an orientation workshop. The next workshop in Spanish is Saturday, Sept. 24, at 1 p.m. at the Cornerstone Center, 178 Bennett Avenue. Applicants must reserve at 212-568-4396 or info@nomaanyc.org. For more information on programs and services NoMAA, visit www.nomaanyc.org.

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