Greenwich non-profit, Open Arts Alliance (OAA), is proud to be one of 56 non-profit organizations across the state awarded a Cares Grant from the Connecticut Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“It means a lot,” said Open Arts Alliance Executive Director, Rocco Natale, “especially right now. This is our first grant from the CT Humanities, and to be recognized for the work (much of it digital) that we have undertaken in our community during the pandemic is very gratifying.”
Director of Education, Kyle LeMaire, added that in a time when most non-profits have furloughed staff or cut programs, the company has continued to offer programs to serve the population – even in the face of adversity.
Throughout the pandemic, OAA teaching artists and staff have been facilitating distance learning not only with school aged students, but with senior citizens as well! Every week, OAA hosts “improv class” with senior citizens, which has been a great way to connect with home-bound seniors on electronic platforms. Over 100 school aged students participated in digital arts programs during the past three months and OAA has plans to increase their database of educational content available to community members.
“If anything was proved during this pandemic, it is that people turn to the arts for comfort during difficult times,” says LeMaire. “The sheer volume of media consumed and created during the past three months shows that people in our community are hungry for videos, music and stories that connect and heal us.” LeMaire explains that at this time of the year, the organization would have still been producing theatre. The challenge became how to use the arts to connect the community during an unprecedented time.
Open Arts Alliance is a social-service organization that utilizes students’ artistic abilities to spread arts education to senior citizens with dementia or Alzheimer’s by creating arts-based volunteerism training and opportunities for school-aged students. OAA produces five corner-stone programs annually and offers free arts education classes for senior citizens. LeMaire and Natale intend to use the grant to ensure these programs remain free of charge to students and seniors in our community.