Newton Community Pride supports arts, culture and city beautification with micro grants

Jane Hanser, who lives in Newton, applied for the grant to purchase paint and landscaping materials for the Bristol Road beautification project. Hanser said she helped lobby for the closure of the Carriage Road between Bristol Road and Chestnut Street to motor vehicles, which Newton’s Transport Council passed in January 2021.

Hanser said she is currently working on beautifying the block so it looks more like a park and less like a closed road. She said she applied for the grant to plant leaves and paint things like flowers on the cement barricades at the end of the block.

“We really wanted to give it something that made it look like a sign that this is a park, this is not an open road for people to drive across the grass,” Hanser said.

Hanser said the project is ongoing because the Department of Public Works needs to use the area to stage the Chestnut Street reconstruction. Hanser said she hopes to continue the beautification project once construction is complete.

Cappella Clausura, a music ensemble in the city dedicated to highlighting women composers throughout history, has been awarded two grants – one for a joint performance in June 2021 with the Newton Theater Company and one to commission five women composers to create music for writing their November 2021 concert – said Amelia LeClair, founder and director of the group.

“This was Capella Clausura’s first live concert in two years,” said LeClair. “It was really great to do that again.”

Another grantee, the Newton Theater Company, creates art that promotes diversity and focuses on social justice issues.

“It’s about theater for a community by a community,” said Abby Lass, director of education and director of public relations and digital programs at Newton Theater Company. “We pride ourselves on taking new perspectives on classic works, experimenting with new works, and really trying to center the voices of women in the works we create.”

The company’s grant went to the production of Our Tears are the Same Color: Parallel Narratives of Bereaved palestinian and Israeli Women. a production in which two Palestinian and two Israeli women have woven together stories from their past to show how pain is a way forward.

“It’s been really satisfying to be able to create a work of art that is both beautiful in its own right and very closely related to and engages with important issues of our time,” Lass said.

Welcome Home executive director Julie Plaut Mahoney said the organization received a $500 grant to specifically help relocate Afghan families. Welcome Home is a homewares pantry that collects, sorts and stocks many different types of home needs for the community.

“So far we’ve used the money to supplement homewares for large families,” Mahoney said. “For example, last week we had an Afghan family of nine and to meet their needs it’s a lot for us as a small organization so we used some of that money to buy some of the larger items.”

When asked what advice she would give to others who want to apply for the micro-grant, Mahoney said she recommends finding a “very specific” purpose for the grant.

“I find that most agencies that give out grants want to know exactly where the money is going,” she said.

Emily McMains, treasurer of Newton’s Indigenous Peoples Day Committee, said the micro-grant received helped get speakers, artists and dancers to perform for an October 2021 celebration and covered event insurance.

“We had tribes from all over,” McMains said. “There was a strong Taino representation, which is special because Taino country, which is now Puerto Rico, is where Columbus landed and had the most devastating impact on native populations.”

Newton Community Pride executive director Sullivan said the micro grants have enabled a variety of other unique organizations to serve the community and invest in their passions and projects. The organization has just completed accepting applications for its Spring 2022 fundraising cycle, and recipients will be announced on or before April 29.

“There are just so many great ideas and events out there, and we just want to support as many as we can,” Sullivan said.

Another application round for micro grants will begin on October 1, 2022. Visit newtoncommunitypride.org for more information on how to apply.

Hannah DiPilato and Lauren Rowlands can be reached at newtonreport@globe.com.

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