Roc Arts United, a group that formed in response to the absence of an arts council or agency in Rochester, last week launched a website aimed at bringing artists and small arts organizations into contact with resources and opportunities.
The site, rocartsunited.org, lists local exhibition and performance spaces and provides a central place where artists and organizations can find calls for projects or project proposals and lists of potential funding sources. The website welcomes submissions and the listings should be continually updated.
Dozens of opportunities have been posted to date, including calls for nominations for the upcoming Rochester Maker Faire and the Holiday Art Bazaar at The Yards Collective, and for individual artists to apply for Genesee Valley Arts grants. There are also listed opportunities outside of Rochester, such as the Los Angeles-based Music Unites the World Songwriting Contest.
“Identifying all the performance venues in our county and giving this resource a concrete focus that we can continue to add and develop is really important for small and medium-sized organizations that don’t have a home”, Said Annette Ramos, member of Roc Arts United. “Having this resource and this information makes it easier for them to be successful. “
Founded in 2019, Roc Arts United (RAU) is led by a diverse steering committee that includes artists, leaders of arts and cultural organizations, and advocates for the arts.
“We are a very siled community with the major arts organizations at the top of this pyramid,” said Ramos, executive director of the Rochester Latino Theater Company. “And those of us who are truly trailblazers and ground gatherers – local, diverse, brown and black and Asian artists, we often don’t know where the resources are.”
The pandemic has underlined a complaint that artists and small arts organizations made for years even before the implosion of the Greater Rochester Arts and Culture Council – that there is no central advocacy group, no government post, to which artists can turn in times of crisis. crisis.
RAU is doing some of the advocacy and resource work that was done by the old council. But RAU members insist they are not trying to become an arts council.
Bleu Cease, a member of RAU who is also executive director of the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center, said a better term for RAU is “local arts agency,” which is used across the country to describe groups that promote, support and develop the arts at the local level.
“It’s still a grassroots group,” he said. “For now, the committee remains focused on its two specific goals – having a central place where organizations can list their opportunities for all kinds of artists, and a specific list of receiving organizations and art open to proposals. artists.
“It seems like everyone at Roc Arts United agrees that it was never really handled well by anyone,” he added. “It’s a really big need, and it’s something that this grassroots group can take care of now. “
Photographer Quajay Donnell joined RAU’s steering committee in January and said that creating a central space where artists and small arts organizations can find financial resources and opportunities is crucial, and that inclusiveness is a major concern for the group.
“Right now we are targeting artists who may not have these resources at their disposal or this information readily available,” he said.
Roc Arts United also began operating as an arts watchdog organization this year and publicly criticized the city of Rochester in January for using images of Daniel Prude and John Lewis murals in its promotional material without crediting the artists.
Going forward, RAU plans to expand its focus on resources to include professional development opportunities for teacher artists, producers and site programmers, Ramos said.
“And of course, by really breaking the silos of funding and economic opportunity,” she says. “This is a critical factor, especially for small and medium arts organizations and such a critical time with many doors on the verge of being closed. We need to work together to truly revitalize the creative economy.
Rebecca Rafferty is the editor-in-chief of CITY. She can be reached at [email protected]