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'Arts for Health’ Grants Launch This Week: Flamenco, Calligraphy, Tai Chi, Brazilian Celebration

October 19, 2021

The Cambridge Public Health Department recently awarded its first-ever Arts for Health mini-grants to three artists.  Each artist received $4,000 to create an accessible and culturally inclusive activity that would engage residents in one or more of the City’s three health priorities: mental health, social resilience, and healthy eating and active living. 
“Arts initiatives are a fun way to connect with the community about and in support of health,” said Susan D. Breen, MS, RN, interim Chief Public Health Officer. “This is especially important during the social isolation that the COVID19 pandemic brought, and we are very grateful for the funding from Cambridge Arts that allowed this to happen.”  
The $12,000 arts mini-grants were funded by Cambridge Arts and the Cambridge Public Health Department through the Massachusetts Community Health Fund.  The health department has partnered with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to support this initiative. 
“The Arts for Health grant program builds on MAPC’s work supporting public health staff to engage with local communities through arts and culture,” said Annis Sengupta, Director of the Arts & Culture Department at the MAPC. “We hope other cities and towns are inspired by the Cambridge Public Health Department to work with artists in their community engagement efforts.”  
The Arts for Health awardees and their projects are:  
  • Isaura de Oliveira and Akili James: The artists will bring two performances to the Port involving live music, dance, audience interaction, video, games and informal conversation in the spirit of a special Brazilian celebration called “Mesa de Caboclo.” They will invite participants into gentle movement, game show- style health trivia, and informal conversations. This performance will take place on November 21 at 1 p.m. at Greene Rose Heritage Park (155 Harvard Street).  
  • Yosi Karahashi: The artist will offer three flamenco performances to older adults in Cambridge. At these free events, participants will have “a moment full of joy” by making music of their own through rhythm clapping, footwork, and body movements. A video with additional lessons will be shared with participants to practice at home. The performances will be on October 20 at 3:30 p.m. at Neville Place (650 Concord Ave.), October 27 at 3:30 p.m. at The Cambridge Homes (360 Mount Auburn St.), and November 10 at 3:30 p.m. at the Citywide Senior Center (806 Massachusetts Avenue). 
  • Yung-Chi Sung: The artist will share the practice of Chinese calligraphy and Tai Chi through a series of online and in-person workshops. In the face-to-face workshops, participants will use their arms and body as the brush pen to write Chinese characters and practice Tai Chi. Online workshops will teach participants calligraphy and appreciation of the Chinese language, writing, and culture. A series of performances will take place at the Greene Rose Heritage Park on October 23 at 2:30 p.m. and November 7 at 2:30 p.m. at Greene Rose Heritage Park (155 Harvard Street). 
These events, which take place in October and November, are free and open to the public. Current COVID-19 public health guidelines will be followed. For more information on this project, visit the MAPC website.   
The grants were awarded through a competitive process and reviewed by representatives from nonprofits, city departments, the Cambridge Public Health Department, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. 
For more information about this initiative, please contact Josefine Wendel at the Cambridge Public Health Department at jwendel@challiance.org

Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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