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Fundación Cuba Avant-Garde Announces 2010 Grant Winners

NEW YORK (CUBAN ART NEWS).- Fundación Cuba Avant-Garde, the sponsoring organization for Cuban Art News, has announced the recipients of its first round of grant funding.

The foundation supports the work of U.S.-based nonprofit cultural organizations, providing funding for initiatives that explore Cuban art and culture for varied audiences.

“Cuban art and culture is vibrant, sophisticated, and fully engaged with the world at large,” says collector Howard Farber, who, with his wife Patricia, established Fundación Cuba Avant-Garde earlier this year. “Our mission at the Fundación is to help that dynamic cultural activity gain the attention it deserves.”

For its initial funding round, Fundación Cuba Avant-Garde received 90 proposals from organizations around the country, including museums, community arts groups, and small-press publishers. Proposed projects ranged from panel discussions to major motion pictures.

“The Fundación believes in strategic funding,” says Farber. “In several cases, our support was the crucial ‘swing vote’ in the projects’ moving forward. In others, we were the first money in, giving the push to get them rolling and help attract additional support.”

For one grantee, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, Fundación funding was especially timely, supporting a trip to Cuba. As part of the Havana Plaza Jazz Festival, Arturo O’Farrill and the Chico O’Farrill Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra premiered new work exploring the influence of fathers and sons in the Cuban jazz tradition—reflecting not only the relationship of Arturo O’Farrill and his father, the late jazz musician and composer Chico O’Farrill, but of other Cuban musicians such as Chucho Valdés, who preformed with the orchestra in the premiere, and his son Chuchito, also a jazz artist.

“It’s a chock-full itinerary,” says organization executive director Eric Oberstein about the group's week-long trip. Along with a second concert in the jazz festival, the orchestra is performed in the town of San José de las Lajas, longtime home of the O’Farrill family, which built the cathedral there. The group also gave a concert in Matanzas province, performing with a local orchestra dedicated to performing the works of Chico O’Farrill.

“The support of the Fundación was incredible,” says Oberstein. “This is a historic journey, and it’s being filmed for a documentary exploring the Cuban roots of jazz. So in addition to the trip itself, the Fundación’s support is helping to make possible a very special film.”

Another winning project, a visiting artist residency at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, is one for which the Fundación provided initial funding. “We’ve been working in Cuba for more than ten years, building a longstanding and mutually beneficial partnership with the National Union of Artists and Writers (UNEAC),” says the project coordinator, Jeffrey Wolfman. “It’s long been our goal to establish an artist-in-residence program here at the college. We learned about the Fundación only two days before the grant deadline, and we dropped everything to put together a proposal.” The Fundación grant will support the inaugural artist-in-residence program, a semester-long residency for Cuban artist Eduardo Hernández.

The six projects funded in the 2010 grant cycle are:

Afro Latin Jazz Alliance. To support the participation of the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra—led by the Alliance’s artistic director, Grammy-winning pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill—in the 26th edition of the Havana Plaza Jazz Festival in Havana, December 16-19, 2010. The group’s weeklong trip will be the subject of a documentary film celebrating Chico O’Farrill’s legacy and the opportunity for rich cultural exchange that this visit represents.

Ajna Films. In support of the documentary film Unfinished Spaces: Cuba’s Architecture of Revolution, which recounts the history of the National Art Schools in Havana, whose three original architects were invited back to complete the project almost fifty years after they began it in 1961.

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). To support performaces by the Ballet Folklorico Cutumba of Santiago de Cuba, Oriente province.

Center For Cuban Studies. For a five-week lecture series on Cuban contemporary art by artists, critics, and collectors.

Cuban Artists Fund (Rockefeller Brothers Fund). To support the participation of individual members of the New York City Ballet in the 22nd International Ballet Festival in Havana.

Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts. In support of a residency for artist Eduardo Hernández as a visiting scholar from Cuba.

Reprinted with permission from Cuban Art News.

Fundación Cuba Avant-Garde | Cuban Art News | Howard Farber |

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