Dance Alabama! benefits from art grant


Photo courtesy of Morgan Moore

Kendal Aldridge, Contributing Writer

For her first semester, Erin Delamer had the opportunity to use Dance Alabama! as a creative outlet for her talent. The campus organization was a recent benefactor of a series of grants given by the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa.

“Dance Alabama! is an amazing outlet for students’ creativity and expression,” Delamer, a junior majoring in dance, said. “It brings students from across the University together with the common goal of artistic and self-expression.”

UA faculty advisor of Dance Alabama! Lawrence Jackson said it is important for artists to foster and maintain relationships with the communities they serve.

“Many rural areas in Alabama have limited access to the arts, so the goal of this project is to engage and educate these regions by awakening interest, excitement, imagination and creativity to those areas that have historically had limited exposure to the arts,” Jackson said.

The respective grant programs benefit both organizations as well as professional artists. The Arts Council of Tuscaloosa has awarded over $6,500 in grants to serve the greater good of local students and citizens through the arts.

“I believe that art is a vital part of any community,” Anna Pitts, a sophomore majoring in art, said. “Yet, its importance is often overlooked, and funding for art initiatives is usually not a priority. Seeing so many art grants being awarded in Tuscaloosa is really fantastic.”

Six schools in Tuscaloosa received grants through the Community Foundation of West Alabama to launch art programs. Four organizations received funding from the Small Grant program, including Dance Alabama!.

“The Dance Alabama! tour addresses these issues with young students across the state, encouraging them to participate through both creation and as a responsive audience member,” Jackson said.

Dance Alabama! received up to $1,000 as a recipient of the 2018 Small Grant award. The grant helped offset the cost of this year’s show.

UA students participating in Dance Alabama! learn dance techniques in order to produce a short dance of their own. The Dance Alabama! tour consists of five dates, spreading dance to schools all over the state, according to Jackson.

Students participating in Dance Alabama! develop skills such as collaboration, analytical thinking and responsibility, Delamer said. The program runs in both the fall and spring and provides students the opportunity to express themselves through the creative processes learned in class.

“Fine arts, dance specifically, enables people of different thoughts and feelings to express their emotions in a way that can be thought provoking,” Delamer said. “Dancers use their bodies as their voice, which can elicit emotions in others and touch people in profound ways. I highly encourage everyone to actively seek out the arts, as it can bring our community together.”

The grant money is intended to support types of art-related projects such as seminars, workshops and conferences for individual artists. For organizations, grants will be awarded to support initiatives such as exhibits, festivals, residencies, consultants, attendance at seminars, institutes and workshops.

Grant awards occur every year, and the recipients of the awards are chosen by the Arts Council Committee. The maximum Small Grant money available to organizations is $1000, and $750 to individuals. The program has been serving the Tuscaloosa community since 1986 and has awarded over $140,000 to individuals and organizations.

“Presenting art at the heart of a community enhances the lives of members within that community by stirring hard-to-articulate feelings and inspiring them to look beyond what they believe to be possible and imagine a more vibrant, exciting future,” Jackson said.