City council has approved close to $215,000 in grants for local non-profit and grassroots organizations to tackle racism — with more than a quarter of the funding going to arts-based projects or organizations.
"When you try and handle some of these subjects through the arts, then you're helping humans connect with something complex," Shalini Sinha, chair of the city's anti-racism advisory committee, told Taproot. "You have more of a chance of seeing deeper layers in the human experience, and you have more of a chance to ask what needs to happen next.
"We all know a movie, a play, artwork, or a song that stayed with us for a long time — that we kept thinking about and that impacted our lives. And so I think that's one of the reasons why the arts-based projects had a bigger impact."
The advisory committee was established in late 2019, and city council approved $300,000 in funding for an anti-racism grants program. The aim is to make Edmontonians more aware of racism, its impact, and how to take action to address it; raise awareness of community organizations that are working to dismantle racism; and build a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable city.
Sinha, founder of Inclusiv, explained that the committee was focused on determining whether projects could have a lasting effect on developing anti-racism in communities across the city. Fifty-two applications were received for this first iteration of the annual program, and 16 were funded.
The arts projects that received funding include The Black Bookshelf Project, which provides schools and early education centres with easy access to books and resources written and developed by Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color, and Ribbon Rouge Foundation's ArtSpace: Telling ACB Stories for Change, which engages African, Caribbean, and Black-identified people.