City grants to help fund 8 art projects, including light installation, music marathon and theater performance

photo by: Mike Yoder

Leonard Krishtalka, director of the KU Natural History Museum, right, celebrates with Van Go JAMS artist Belle Ray after they unveiled the bench that Ray created for the museum, Friday, July 21, 2017 at Van Go, 715 New Jersey St.

In the coming year, city grants will help fund an interactive light installation in South Park, a live classical music marathon and a theater performance about the experiences of local female veterans.

The Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission’s Community Arts Grant program will provide a total of $25,000 to eight community art projects. The city grant program, now in its 24th year, provides funding for projects or ventures that encourage the arts within the Lawrence community.

A total of 17 projects or programs applied for a grant, and the arts commission made recommendations based on criteria developed from the city’s cultural plan, according to a memo from city staff to the Lawrence City Commission. The City Commission approved the recommendations as part of its last meeting.

Summaries of the eight winning projects are below. The application materials for all 17 projects are available on the city’s website,

Lied Center, Theater on a Spectrum, $4,000: The Lied Center will use the grant to help bring Chicago Children’s Theatre founder and artistic director Jacqueline Russell to Lawrence. Russell, who specializes in theater for children on the autism spectrum, will train Lawrence artists to use theater to engage children with autism. The artists will create an original theater piece that will be performed locally.

Van Go Inc., Benchmark 2018, $4,000: The Summer JAMS Benchmark project, now in its 20th year, employs at-risk teens and young adults to design and create custom, wooden benches. At the end of the summer program, 20 colorfully painted benches will be added to locations such as schools, offices and businesses.

Spencer Museum of Art, The Ties that Bind exhibition, $4,000: The exhibition will feature about a dozen contemporary works created by Haitian-born, New Orleans-based painter Ulrick Jean-Pierre alongside the museum’s collection of Haitian art. The museum will also provide programming for youth, K-12 teachers and other community members related to the exhibit.

Kansas Public Radio, Kansas Public Radio Live Day, $3,500: Live Day will provide a six-hour broadcast of live classical music performances from the KPR studios and the Lawrence Public Library. The performances will be broadcast on KPR stations and the public may attend the performances in person at the library, 707 Vermont St.

Art Tougeau Parade, $3,000: The annual Art Tougeau Parade, now its 21st year, brings artistically designed or decorated vehicles together for a parade. Children also create their own cardboard art cars or decorate their bikes. The grant will provide funds to bring in art cars from around the country to participate in the parade.

Lawrence Arts Center, Rethink: I Am a Veteran, $2,500: The Arts Center will use the grant for a first-person storytelling project centered on the lives of local female veterans, covering topics such as abuse, military glass ceilings and sexuality. The stories will be adapted into a theatrical production with an accompanying art installation that will premiere the weekend before Veterans Day.

Nick Carswell, Echoes Through a Green Space, $2,000: The collaborative public art project aims to celebrate the history of South Park as a location for public performance and social gathering by creating an interactive light installation and live musical performance. Related activities will include presentations at the Watkins Museum of History and a final art installation as part of the 2018 Free State Festival.

Lawrence Library and Downtown Lawrence Inc., Dinner and a Movie, $2,000: The programming provides free movie screenings and inexpensive dinners from local restaurants. Each film is preceded by family-friendly activities related to the movie. The event is held four times per year, either on the library’s lawn or at Abe & Jake’s Landing.