GRAND RAPIDS — The Diatribe Inc., a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit that focuses on empowering youth through poetry, has received a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Our Town grant was awarded to 51 organizations nationwide for projects that integrate arts, culture and design into efforts that strengthen communities.
The Diatribe will use the funds for its ongoing 49507 Project, a public mural project that launched in May 2021 and brings awareness to various social issues including gentrification and redlining. The project pairs local Black and brown artists with businesses in the city’s third ward. As well, the project integrates education, community listening sessions and research to help shift the narrative in Grand Rapids’ historically marginalized 49507 ZIP code.
Seven murals have been created so far as part of the 49507 Project, with eight more planned to be added this summer on the buildings of Black and brown-owned businesses.
“The only way we’ll see change in our communities is when we start investing in them,” The Diatribe Executive Director Marcel Price said in a statement. “Through The 49507 Project, we’re hoping to pour hope into young people, poets, creatives and neighbors to make them feel like this community is theirs.”
The mural project has an interactive and digital component attached to each mural that allows people to learn more about the message of the art.
The 49507 Project has given one of its mural artists, Wanda Moreno Aguilar, a place to authentically represent immigration issues and generational trauma, according to nonprofit officials. Growing up in West Michigan made Moreno Aguilar feel isolated, and she is using the platform to validate the experiences of Hispanic residents.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation with these grants, including The Diatribe, providing opportunities for all of us to live artful lives,” National Endowment for the Arts Chairperson Maria Rosario Jackson said in a statement. “The arts contribute to our individual well-being, the well-being of our communities, and to our local economies. The arts are also crucial to helping us make sense of our circumstances from different perspectives as we emerge from the pandemic and plan for a shared new normal informed by our examined experience.”
The Diatribe also is planning to put down roots in the 49507 area, and plans to break ground in 2023 on a mixed-use building to house the nonprofit’s offices. The project will include apartments and a performing arts venue at 2040 S. Division Ave.
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