$110,000 in NEA Grants Awarded to Columbia College Chicago Dance Center, Museum of Contemporary Photography

PhotoRegina Agu, Passage, 2019. Digital print on Samba Opaque, 4 panels total dimension 100 ft x 6 ft. Image courtesy of the New Orleans Museum of Art. Photography by Roman Alokhin.
Columbia College Chicago's Dance Center and Museum of Contemporary Photography received $110,000 in National Endowment for the Arts grants.

On January 24, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced nationwide grants for arts initiatives, including about $1.6 million in grants for 66 projects in Illinois. Among the recipients are Columbia’s Dance Center and Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP.)

The Museum of Contemporary Photography received a $30,000 grant that will support Regina Agu's "Shore|Lines" exhibition and related programming. “Shore|Lines,” a large-scale panoramic installation and exhibition, will explore community memory within Black Midwestern lakeside communities, tracing legacies of historical migration from the Gulf South region to the Great Lakes. Using methods of oral history, photography, and archival research, her work examines waterways and natural environments as defining sites of Black life and belonging.

Agu will work closely with MoCP Associate Curator Asha Iman Veal throughout the project and will collaborate with South Side Chicago residents to create a documentation text which Agu refers to as a “field guide,” to be presented alongside the exhibition. Through extended, sustained engagement, "Shore|Lines" will bring community knowledge and values into conversation with Black geographies and histories of landscape photography, using the panorama as a format for relating ideas and themes of Black cultural memory connected to place.

The Dance Center received $80,000, by far the largest grant awarded in Illinois, supporting “Dance Engagement and Quality of Life in Older Adults,” a research study conducted in partnership with Rush University’s Center for Aging. The study is part of a community partnership between the Dance Department’s Arts in Health minor program and Rush. The minor, coordinated by Susan Imus, includes highly experiential coursework with arts-based programming in healthcare and community environments.

Imus explained, "The mixed-method research study aims to examine the continuum of community engagement in dance from receptive, to receptive-participatory to active participatory to improve the quality of life and decrease loneliness (a national epidemic) in older adults.”

With this financial support from the National Endowment for the Arts, both the Dance Center and the MoCP are better positioned to expand their impact and enhance their contributions to the lives of students, artists, and the broader community.

“The NEA is delighted to announce (these) grants to Columbia College Chicago, which is helping contribute to the strength and well-being of the arts sector and local community,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “We are pleased to be able to support this community and help create an environment where all people have the opportunity to live artful lives.”