Arts Matters Grants empowering local artists to be a force for good in Roanoke

Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 4:47 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s the year of the artist in the star city thanks to the Roanoke Arts Commission.

“We called them art matters grants and we ask artists what they would do if they wanted to advance justice, wellness, and inclusion in the community,” said Roanoke Art and Culture Coordinator Douglas Jackson.

Over 30 artists received 3,000 dollars to let their creativity flow.

“Some of them are outdoor sculptures. We got two film projects,” explained Jackson. “We got dance projects, singing projects, drum circles.”

One of those projects is the benediction created by Charlie Brouwer. For 20 years he has created human sculptures using wood to showcase different emotions.

“I was inspired by I think my childhood memories of the preacher in our church saying the blessing or giving the benediction,” said Brouwer.

The sculpture will spend 20 days on each side of the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.

“Just kind of the intersection of faith life and civic life and we’re right here at the Martin Luther King sculpture which really emphasizes that,” added Jackson.

The benediction will also travel to nine different houses of worship.

“For them to be able to say to the community around them to say bless you to the community surrounding them,” explained Brouwer.

Hoping to be a bridge between churches and the community.

“A common thread among church communities of all sorts is the sense of blessing and positiveness about being here now. Being the best you can be and blessing those around you with your actions,” said Roanoke Resident Jean Hitchins.

Applications are still being accepted for the art matter grants.