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Art initiative grant recipients announced

Representatives from Dallas County non-profit organizations that received Black Belt Community Foundation grants Saturday included: (from left) Rajeeyah Holmes, Ibrahim Holmes, Salma Holmes, Angie Mcrary, Margaret Hardy, Kevin Hollis, Jerria Martin, Bill Grimes, Karen Grimes, Martha Lockett, Dorothy Cowan, Joann Smith, Mae Frances Brown and Felecia Jones. -- Taylor Holland

For Kevin Hollis, the $3,000 grant awarded to the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute Saturday means the museum can acquire many much-needed exhibit cases to show the historic relics and materials the museum houses.

Hollis, the museum’s curator and archivist, represented one of 42 non-profit organizations that were awarded a combined $100,000 in grant money as part of the Black Belt Community Foundation’s annual Black Belt Arts Initiative.

“We have artifacts and textiles that need to be protected from visitors, climate, dust and pests so we’re having special exhibits cases being built for theses artifacts,” Hollis said. “The Black Belt Community Foundation is another resource in which it can assist organizations like the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute to carry out their missions and their goals. One of our goals and missions is preservation, so this will greatly assist us in those preservation needs and concerns that we have.”

Local museums, community theatres, festival committees and fine arts councils from the 12 counties that make up the foundation were among those awarded grants.

Established in 2006, the initiative has awarded 316 grants totaling more than $964,000 for area arts programs. This year, with a slightly reduced budget, the nine-person committee was still able to award grants to 42 of 66 applicants.

“Most of our organizations are not eligible for state Council of the Arts funding, so I just think it’s wonderful that we can be that bridge that allows groups who are growing and who can become the kind of organization that the arts council would qualify for funding to receive grants,” Mistress of Ceremony Billie Jean Young said. “It’s a wonderful privilege and a blessing to do this.”

Jerria Martin, who serves on the Black Belt Community Foundation’s 2012 Board of Directors from Dallas County, said the ceremony brought about both inspiration and motivation for her.

“It just makes me feel so good to come here and see the smiles on the children’s faces knowing that we, the Black Belt Community Foundation, are investing in their futures and investing in their dreams,” Martin said. “I believe that, with the arts, it’s one of the best tools of education. It’s a Southern tradition that we’re embracing and I’m just totally uplifted and motivated.”

Organizations receiving grants from Dallas County were: Alabama Tale Tellin Festival, Arts Revive, Black Belt Human Resource Development, McRae Learning Center, National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, Orrville Volunteer Fire Department, Random Acts of Theatre Company, Renaissance Family Development Center, Selma Arts Guild and the Selma Police Athletic League.

Perry County organizations receiving grants were: Artist-In-Residence Support Group and West Perry-Marion Art & Crafts Training Center.

Organizations receiving grants from Wilcox County were: BAMA Kids, Inc., Black Belt Treasures and Lily Baptist Community and Youth Development Center.