Creative County Initiative Grants: A Look Back at Past Recipients


The Essex County Community Foundation's Creative County Initiative (CCI) has a history of offering diverse grant programs to support and nurture our vibrant arts community. While there are currently no open grant applications, we'd like to showcase the impact of our past funding initiatives. This page provides a recap of our previous grant programs and their recipients, including the Last Mile Fund, which provided crucial support for individual artists' specific needs; the ALAANA Artist Grants, which focused on supporting artists who identify as African, Latine, Asian, Arab, or Native American; and the Special Projects grants, which funded innovative aspects of larger programs. These grants collectively fostered creativity, promoted inclusivity, and strengthened the cultural fabric of Essex County. By highlighting these past initiatives, we hope to illustrate the breadth of artistic endeavors supported by CCI and inspire future creative projects in our community. For information on potential future grant opportunities, please subscribe to our newsletter.

2023- 2024 Grantee Information

Creative County Initiative The Last Mile Fund

The Last Mile Fund was designed to support individual artists with small, specific needs that could significantly impact their artistic careers. This fund recognized that sometimes a small amount of funding could be crucial to an artist's ability to take advantage of opportunities or further their professional development.

Administered by Rocky Neck Arts Community, this fund facilitated funding to individuals for various purposes that could advance their artistic careers.

Key Focus Areas

  • Capacity building and Professional Development: Funding for workshop fees for individuals or groups
  • Increasing access to artist opportunities: Support for responding to calls for art, covering vendor market fees, etc.

How The Last Mile Fund Was Used

Grantees used the funding for a wide variety of purposes, including:

Visual Arts

  • Purchase of art supplies (oil paint, canvas, etc.)
  • Frame artwork for upcoming art shows
  • Professional framing for pastel and watercolor work
  • Installation of ceramic kiln support
  • Supplies for public art and mural installations
  • Materials for multi-generational art shows
  • Create public art displays
  • Professional photography of artwork
  • Attend ceramics and mosaics workshops
  • Cover photovoice exhibition costs including displays and framing

Performing Arts

  • Venue costs for artist showcases and music performances
  • Sound equipment for performances
  • Hiring musicians for band pieces and recordings
  • Support for participation in events like Newburyport Shanties 2023
  • Participate in national dance competitions (registration and travel)
  • Advanced training for specialized dance instruction, including Dance for PD®

Literary Arts

  • Promotion of new poetry publication "VOZ", including event travel
  • Submitting new poetry manuscripts to multiple presses
  • Cover costs of submitting to literary competitions
  • Rent space for a poetry series
  • Master's program Creative Writing classes

Fashion and Textile Arts

  • Fabric and notions for making clothes for a ready-to-wear collection
  • Fees and materials for fashion shows
  • Materials for the completion of ready-to-wear collections

Film and Photography

  • Post-production for documentaries (colorizing, sound mixing, licensing)
  • Camera rentals and hiring local crew for film projects
  • Produce short documentaries
  • Host film festivals, including paying local performers
  • Organize photography showcases for underrepresented groups

Mixed Media and Interdisciplinary

  • Support for solo exhibitions and showcase events
  • Materials for the completion of various artistic projects
  • Support for virtual life drawing events

Professional Development and Career Advancement

  • Business coaching sessions
  • Attend online workshops with renowned artists
  • Cover part of an online painting course
  • Submission and membership fees for professional development workshops
  • Strengthen operational capacity and expand impact for various projects
  • Marketing for events and stipends for collaborating artists

Event Participation and Sales

  • Mini tour travel expenses
  • Transportation costs for events and performances
  • Support for students for vendor spaces
  • Assistance with display fees for events like Salem Arts Festival
  • Participation in shows like MASS Art x Montserrat
  • Culinary participation in Diversity Festival
  • Fees for pop-up events and receptions
  • Support for showcasing at cultural events
  • Fulfilling orders for art merchandise to sell at markets
  • Cover supplies and fees for vendor markets

Space and Equipment

  • Soundproofing for a small studio
  • Rental of space and supplies for teaching art classes
  • Signage for artist branding, such as at Madfish Wharf / Rocky Neck

Other Support

  • Travel and childcare costs related to artistic pursuits
  • Promotional materials for events like El Mercado at El Taller

Note: Due to the nature of this grant, specific grantee names were not disclosed. The fund aimed to provide crucial support to individual artists in their creative endeavors and professional growth.

Creative County Initiative ALAANA Artist Grants

ECCF's Creative County Initiative (CCI) is pleased to expand the inclusivity of its grant making by funding new works or works in process in any artistic medium by artists who identify as ALAANA (African, Latine, Asian, Arab, Native American).

CCI's ALAANA Artist Grants will support the development of creative works or works in process by ALAANA artists, recognizing their historic and systemic exclusion from accessing resources to make creative work.

Support for Grantees

ALAANA Artist grantees will receive technical, promotional, and partnership support from ECCF/Creative County throughout the course of the project. As needed, this will include:

  • Office hours with CCI staff and consultants
  • Promotional and marketing support
  • Artist profile and video hosting through the Creative County Vimeo channel

2023 Grantees


Sunil Gulab

Project: Lynn Seniors African Art workshops

Description: Workshops and creation of a large 48"x60" piece to hang at the Lynn Senior Center

Y-Binh Nguyen

Project: Identity Exploration

Description: Creative exploration of artist's identity through research, writing, and travel

Edwin Cabrera

Project: Lynn Hip Hop Documentary

Description: Support the completion of Lynn Hip Hop Documentary

uBuyile Narwele


Description: New choreographic work #SIDELINES through African Street Dance Initiative


Project: Public Art with Elevated Thought

Description: Public Art making with Elevated Thought

Raquel Jimenez

Project: Community Dream Pop-ups

Description: Art making and activities at Lynn Museum/ Lynn Arts

James "Jayvie" Mora

Project: Book Publication & Launch

Description: Support for book publication and launch event

Linda Mullen

Project: Family and Indigenous Ancestry Exploration

Description: Artistic exploration of family and indigenous ancestry

2024 Grantees


Julia Cseko (she/they) - Salem

Project: Art Installation

Description: Covering the cost of materials (custom printed ribbons), moving truck, art handlers, installation, speakers/storytellers, and paid interns

Wanntha Sim Chanhdymany (she/her) - Lynn

Project: Cambodian Culture Crew dance group

Description: Space rental, choreographer, costumes/props, mileage, hair/makeup, incentives for student performers

Jah'Nyah Spencer (she/her) - Lynn

Project: Music Production - "Sentiments"

Description: Debuting as a music artist - Producing a song, "Sentiments," that will encourage young women / femme youth to carry on through tough times. Seeking a vocal coach, and then sound engineers to produce the song, work w local artists to promote

Amanda Beard Garcia (she/they) - Dracut

Project: Painting Series on Chinese-American Identity

Description: Painting series that reclaims and repaints their Chinese-American identity by investigating the invisible history and heritage of her ancestors

Madeline (Maddie) Lam (she/her) - Malden/Lynn

Project: Music as Spiritual Community Care

Description: Blending Sonic Ancestry with Modern Cultural Soundscapes recording a full live album of twelve original songs at Lynn Music Foundation with a band

Creative County Initiative - Special Projects Grants

About Special Projects Grants

The Special Projects Grants, a cornerstone of Essex County Community Foundation's Creative County Initiative (CCI), are designed to spark innovation and catalyze transformative artistic endeavors across Essex County. These grants support uniquely creative aspects of overall programs, fostering cultural vibrancy and community engagement through the arts. By funding projects that push boundaries and explore new possibilities, the Special Projects Grants play a crucial role in advancing CCI's mission to elevate arts and culture as essential components of community life, economic vitality, and collective well-being.

From public art installations that reimagine shared spaces, to innovative programs that bridge cultural divides, these grants empower artists, cultural organizations, and community groups to bring their most ambitious and impactful ideas to life. The Special Projects Grants prioritize initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring that the transformative power of the arts reaches all corners of our community. By supporting a wide range of disciplines—including visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, and interdisciplinary projects—these grants contribute to a rich and varied cultural landscape that reflects the diversity and creativity of Essex County.

Each year, the Special Projects Grants fund a remarkable array of initiatives, from youth-focused arts education programs to large-scale public art projects, from innovative theater productions to community-driven cultural festivals. These projects not only enrich the cultural fabric of our region but also foster community connections, promote dialogue, and inspire collective imagination. Through these grants, CCI continues to invest in the power of creativity to drive positive change, build community resilience, and shape a vibrant, inclusive future for Essex County.

Special Project funding through Essex County Community Foundation's Creative County Initiative is available for a uniquely innovative aspect of an overall program within these general categories.

2023 Grantees


Rockport Music

Project: Writing a Musical History

Description: Youth voices in writing songs about where they live with showcases at Shalin Liu and other sites.

North Shore Children's Museum

Project: On The Road

Description: Mobile Museum Exhibit with artwork on van, eliminating barriers to experiencing their exhibits and costs of field trips for communities ~1hr from Peabody.

Andover Center for History & Culture

Project: Andover Illuminates

Description: Illumination of significant locations in Andover with a culminating event in Spring or Fall 2024 including light, art, performance and celebration.


Project: CompARTimos, An Immigrant Story Trail

Description: Public artmaking and creative placemaking with immigrant youth on Spicket River Greenway. Bilingual storytelling in 2023 transformed into large-scale public art by the Spring 2024.

SmokeSygnals, the City of Gloucester, Cape Ann Museum, Discover Gloucester, and Gloucester 400+ Committee

Project: Native Waters; Native Lands: A Muhsh8n and Wetu in Gloucester

Description: Native Storytelling in two heavily trafficked venues to raise awareness and hospitality of Gloucester for Native residents and artists.

City of Newburyport

Project: Newburyport Murals: We Share One Sky

Description: To connect and engage residents and visitors with Newburyport and the theme "We Share One Sky", through large-scale, exterior mural paintings strategically placed across the City. Spring 2023 and be completed by December 2025.

Lynn Music Foundation

Project: The Neal Rantoul Vault Theatre

Description: To develop The Neal Rantoul Vault Theatre to be a multipurpose space that serves the community to Increase in community engagement and participation in the arts and culture scene in Essex County. Improved access to the arts for low-income families and individuals and marginalized communities.

2024 Grantees


Irise Dance Project - Lawrence

Project: Dance program for youth

Description: Running from March through June 2024

Task Force Against Discrimination - Marblehead

Project: Community event

Description: Event on May 4, 2024

Essex Shipbuilding Museum - Essex

Project: Community event

Description: Event on June 22nd-23rd, 2024

PeabodyTV - Peabody

Project: Young Artist Music Festival

Description: Creating a music festival in Peabody, with funds paying youth performers

La House - Lawrence

Project: Public Art for Spatial Justice

Description: Public art project around spatial justice with community input, running from March 2024 — July 2024

Cape Ann Museum - Gloucester

Project: LGBTQ+ Community Events

Description: Creating two events: "Pride Family Picnic" & "Lavender Speakeasy" on June 2 and June 7, 2024

Essex Art Center - Lawrence

Project: Facade Project

Description: Local artists/writers featuring poetry/banners, running from March 1 - September 1, 2024

Brothers In Arms Men's Support Circle - Lawrence

Project: Juneteenth Festival

Description: Creation of a Juneteenth Festival in Lawrence on June 22nd

Elevated Thought - Lawrence

Project: Downtown Placemaking

Description: Bringing people downtown through murals with community engagement, running from July 22 - August 30, 2024

Cape Ann Art Haven - Gloucester

Project: Digital Art Curriculum

Description: Developing a curriculum for middle- and high-school students around Digital Art, running from May 2024 - December 2024

Northeast Regional Folk Alliance - Lawrence & Methuen

Project: Coffee & Wood Concert Series

Description: Regular lineup of Thursday night performances to bolster touring folk artists, running from April 18th- November 14th 2024

Lanes Coven Theater Co. - Gloucester

Project: Accessible Shakespeare

Description: Two "$5 Buck Sundays" making outdoor Shakespeare/classical plays accessible, on July 14th and August 25th

Heathmere Center for Cultural Engagement - Beverly

Project: Community Art & Peace Circle

Description: Teaching mindfulness and meditation, on Saturday June 8, 2024 at Porter Mill Studios Open House

Maia Mattson - Gloucester

Project: Backyard Growcery

Description: Eco Art Programming, running from June 19-Oct 16th

Bread & Roses Heritage Festival - Lawrence

Project: bREAD and Roses: Writing the Next Chapter

Description: Partnership with Lawrence Public Library for literacy promotion, including free books and a "Story Walk" on the Common, on Monday, September 2, 2024

LEO Inc. - Lynn

Project: Lynn Mosaic Cultural Project

Description: Promoting cultural awareness through museum tours, activities, and guest speakers, running from July 1st to August 15th

Haverhill Historical Society (DBA Buttonwoods Museum) - Haverhill

Project: "A Seat at the Table"

Description: Exhibit, Lecture, and Children's Program, running from August 1-31, 2024

Presente! Festival - Lawrence

Project: Cultural Festival

Description: Unique cultural experience featuring free, quality arts offerings and celebrating cultural heritage, on August 24, 2024

Awesome Gloucester - Rockport

Project: Iconic Fish Murals

Description: Creating the 6th and 7th murals in maritime heritage series, featuring cod and mackerel, from mid-June to end of July

Arpeggione Ensemble, Inc - Beverly

Project: Silent Film with Live Orchestra

Description: Screening of "Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror" (1922) with live original score performance, on Sunday, October 22, 2024

Lynn Music Foundation - Lynn

Project: Lynn Music Festival

Description: Celebrating local music and fostering community spirit on the beach, on July 21, 2024