Northwestern University has received a grant of $500,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support of a two-year arts program in Puerto Rico that aims to build up the cultural sphere on the island after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Northwestern’s program, which begins next month, taps ten emerging artists and ten established artists from the island and puts them in artist–mentor pairs to “participate in training sessions on resourcing and sustaining a practice, portfolio development, artist talk presentations and workshop leadership,” according to a news release. As part of the initiative, Northwestern also plans to host artist residencies on its campus in Evanston, Illinois.
Nibia Pastrana, a choreographer from the island and one of the mentors, said in a statement, “To be an independent artist or collective on an island that is threatened by debt and budget cuts in its educational and healthcare system is a huge challenge. This of course was made more visible post-hurricanes, and like the rest of the Puerto Rican community, artists were and are still affected by the political disaster following the storms.”
The ten emerging artists, who were selected for their work primarily in performance and interdisciplinary community engaged art, are Alejandra Martorell, Mickey Negrón, Kairiana Nuñez-Santalíz, Pó Rodill, Awilda Rodriguez-Lora, Edgardo Rodriguez, Felix Rodriguez-Rosa, Llaima Sanfriorenzo, Noemi Segarra, and Lionel Villahermosa.
The mentors for these artists are Eduardo Alegría, Petra Bravo, Teresa Hernández, Karen Langevin, Nibia Pastrana-Santiago, Chemi Rosado-Seijo, Gisela Rosario-Ramos, Awilda Sterling, Bernat Tort, and Viveca Vázquez.