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Brooklyn women in media, theater and music called to apply for NYC Women’s Fund grant

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‘I was able to offer my community a show of radical empathy,’ says Aya Ogawa, NYC Women’s Fund grant awarded director, writer and performer of ‘The Nosebleed’ featured at Lincoln Center.
Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The city is calling on women artists and women-led creative projects in media, music and theater to apply for up to $50,000 in finishing grants from this year’s $2 million fund— applications for which are open through Nov. 1.

The grants are a part of the fourth and largest round yet of the NYC Women’s Fund, run by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the New York Foundation for the Arts. The fund is meant to invest in projects that “add new depth to New York City’s vibrant media and entertainment landscape,” according to a statement from organizers.

Since its launch in 2018, the NYC Women’s Fund has awarded $5.5 million in grants to 246 film, theatre, and music projects. Brooklyn has by far the highest percentage of award recipients of any borough. More than half of last cycle’s recipients hail from Brooklyn.

“The funding gave me control of my project,” said Aya Ogawa, a Brooklyn-based playwright, director and performer.

Ogawa is the author of the play “The Nosebleed,” recently featured at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Because of the NYC Women’s Fund grant, she said, ““I was able to decide how much to pay my actors as opposed to letting the theaters we perform at decide.”

After applying to the fund in 2019, Ogawa was awarded $25,000 through the city-run grant program. Now, she leads a team of 10 artists including sound, costume, set and lights designers. Her show premiered at the Chocolate Factory Theater and was later sold out as it opened showings at Brooklyn Arts Exchange and The Public Theater.

 

In 2019, the city’s creative industry accounted for more than 500,000 local jobs in New York City, according to the mayor’s office — and the sector also has an economic impact on the Big Apple, bringing in an estimated $150 billion annually.

But, some creatives say the industry is a boy’s club — though it has also garnered a sense of camaraderie amongst its minorities.

“The industry is dominated by men, but among women artists, there is a sisterhood,” said Brooklyn-based film director and animator Signe Baumane.

The production of Baumane’s animated movie for adults, “My Love Affair With Marriage,” took eight years to make and was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Annecy International Film Festival in France, where it won Jury Distinction for a Feature Film. It was also featured at the Guadalajara International Film Festival in Mexico.

The Brooklyn creator says the $40,000 grant she received from the NYC Women’s Fund “saved the project.”

After seven years, Baumane told Brooklyn Paper she couldn’t yet see the finish line. She’d already kickstarted a crowdfunding campaign, and even “begged” friends and family for their support.

“It is not easy to sell animation that is not for children, but that was my vision,” she said. “I can only do this because I’m a woman. I work in the margins of the industry and that’s why I am able to focusses on something that is not mainstream.”

 

Next, her film will be screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in Tel Aviv and Denmark before returning to the U.S. for the Woodstock Film Festival. There, the showing will be accompanied by an exhibit of 12 of the 68 sets made for the movie.

Other projects from Brooklyn that have benefited from the fund include the documentary web series, “Hidden Kingdom,” from second cycle recipients Sunny Facer and Jacqueline Davis. The story of five diverse dancers in New York City has screened at SXSW, Slamdance Film Festival, Falcon Film Festival-UK and the Big Apple Film Festival.

“Now, more than ever, it is critical that we continue to elevate women’s voices and perspectives in order to advance gender equity and women leadership in the creative industries and beyond,” said Anne del Castillo, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, at the launching of the new round of applications.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the grant total this year was $7.5 million from which applicants could apply for up to $2 million. This round’s, total is $2 million from which applicants can apply for up to $50,000. The total amount of the fund since its inception is $7.5 million.

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