Ismael “Arten” Cuadros noticed the lack of art supplies when he attended Bulkeley High School in the city’s Barry Square neighborhood. Not surprising. Whenever school funding is an issue, the arts are the first to go. On Thursday night, Cuadros received a micro-grant that will enable him to purchase materials such as canvas and acrylic paint for Bulkeley High students. These supplies will be put to use in one-on-one after school art lessons.
His project to expand art in the public school was one of three proposals up for vote last night at HartFEAST, a fund raising dinner for the micro-grants. The dinner — Apple Cider Braised Cabbage, White Beans with Broccoli Rabe, Hardy Greens and and Squash Strata– was prepared from local ingredients. Cheeses were provided by Cato Corner Farm and Griffin Farmstead, and the bread was from the Hartford Baking Company. The meal ended with warm pie made from Rogers Orchard apples. While we dined, we were informed of the projects to be voted on. One person wanted to improve “nutritional literacy” by creating and distributing recipe cards and other informational materials to residents at Community Health Services. Another wanted to purchase plywood and supplies for a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a site on Albany Avenue. The mural would be painted by students at the University of Hartford and serve as a reminder of nonviolent principles. The projects were described on paper without naming the person behind the proposal, so that votes would be based on the quality of ideas and not on personalities.
These micro-grants enable individuals and small organizations to make a positive impact in and on the community without having to face the obstacle of endless paperwork. The goal is for HartFEAST to be a recurring event so that more people can receive micro-grants for community-based projects.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
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