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NEA awards $110,000 in grant funding to Columbia’s Dance Center and photography museum

Junior dance major Paris Anderson runs through a dance for Intermediate Contemporary Modern Techniques on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in 1306 S. Michigan Ave. building.

Columbia has received a $110,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with $30,000 going to the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and $80,000 awarded to the Dance Center for various projects.  

Asha Iman Veal, the museum’s associate curator, will be working in close collaboration with Chicago-based artist Regina Agu on “Shore|Lines,” a panoramic installation and exhibition that will delve into the memories of communities residing in Black Midwestern lakeside areas.

“Our team for “Shore|Lines” is so grateful to the NEA for the support,” Veal said. “We’re also not surprised by the wonderful reception to Regina’s artistic practice, as well as her vision for this upcoming project.” 

Agu has been working with the museum for a year and is now photographing the lakeside communities based on community memory. 

“It’s a really special opportunity for [Agu] and for MoCP to get to know different Chicago histories and to speak with folks about their own histories with the Black waterways or the Black Great Lakes history,” Veal said. “In ways that I think are often not centered in stories about nature and natural life climate, but also just what it is in the Midwest.”  

The NEA offers a variety of project-based grant opportunities to organizations. These grants are tailored for specific disciplines such as the Grants for Arts Projects.  

“Shore|Lines” is set to run from Jan. 23 through May 18, 2025. 

Dance professor Susan Imus is a researcher for a study that is funded by the NEA and pursued by the dance program. The study examines how the physical and mental well-being of the participating adults, over the age of 50, are impacted by the “interventions” of the study.

According to Imus, the study will have three levels of intervention: receptive participation, where adults will be brought to three of the performances by Columbia’s Dance Program; the second intervention, pluralistic dance education, involving the dance faculty teaching classes for participants; the third intervention being the co-creation of choreography, where participants will spend 10 weeks creating a performance to be showcased at Student Performance Night in December 2025. 

Imus said the project will have “state-of-the-art” research. 

“Whether it was successful or not, it’s still important because we’ll be learning from going through this process,” she said. “It’s a really wonderful opportunity for our students to learn research as well as how they can apply their skill sets with older adults.”  

Jinal Patel, senior medicine student at RUSH University and student researcher, was motivated to participate in the study by the opportunity to use her love for dance and see it help others in the community.

“I’ve been dancing since I was four,” she said. “Dance is an outlet to relieve stress, and it helps me improve my mental and emotional well-being, so I hope that the participants of this study will have that same experience, as well as other positive impacts in their physical and emotional well-being.” 

The NEA’s financial assistance will substantially strengthen the Dance Center and MoCP, expanding their influence on students and contributions to the community.

Over a thousand grants have been awarded to organizations across the country and Puerto Rico, totalling more than $32 million individual grants.

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About the Contributor
Sofía Oyarzún, Bilingual Reporter
soyarzun@columbichronicle.com   Sofia Oyarzún is a first-year photojournalism and journalism double major. Oyarzún joined the Chronicle in January 2024.   Hometown: Glenview, Illinois