Rural and Traditional Arts Fellowship Application 2023

Link to public facing page

Narrative:
Please answer the following questions sequentially, numbering the corresponding responses. Your narrative should be no more than 2000 words but does not need to be that long. Be as concise as possible while still being clear about your project.


1. Give a description of your project that is concise and clear and that addresses the following:
What will you be doing? Why did you choose this project for this community or place? What is the significance of this place for you? How will the community be involved?

My project is entitled The Cherry Valley Water Project: a year-long series of interviews and public workshops that will culminate in a community-sourced and community-performed evening of poetry, music, theater and puppetry. I will also create a detailed map of the watershed and an online presence for the project through a website (http://dzeli.com/cherryvalleywater/) and social media posts (#cherryvalleywater).

I was born and raised in the small village of Cherry Valley, NY with a population of about 500 people. I have lived many places but I always knew I’d return to my hometown to raise my family. We lead a quiet life in a beautiful community with very clean air and water. It is this water that I am inspired to explore, learn from and help my community connect with. The Cherry Valley Creek, its tributaries and waterfalls, are the source of our drinking water and our well-being. As I watch water wreck havoc throughout the world through droughts, floods and tidal waves, I am so very grateful for our gentle creek. In time our creek could dry up or turn into a raging river and this makes it all the more important for our community to develop a relationship and deep knowing of its ways.

Water is known as a conduit for emotions. There are many aspects of the water in our community that are ripe for exploration and full of creative inspiration. Some of the tributaries have been buried and do not appear on maps. Many local people don’t know they’re there or where they connect. Connecting with the water in its fullness will provide a guide by which we can connect to our own emotions and stories. Through creative workshops (poetry, music, theater and puppetry) offered by myself and other community members, we will create a body of work inspired by our water. We will assemble this work into an evening performance and an online presence to share our creative efforts with the rest of the community and the world.

The community will be involved at every step of the process. My sponsoring agency runs the community center and several arts programs and they are very excited about this project. They are looking forward to supporting the project financially and structurally through community outreach, advising, being a liaison with the local government, and any electricity, sound or building needs I may have. I have already spoken with several local artists that are interested in leading workshops and contributing creatively to the project. I plan to draw material from interviews I will do with community members of a wide range of ages and backgrounds. The community will participate by attending in the public workshops, by producing and performing in the final event and by attending the event. Cherry Valley is a small tight-knit community of artists, families, farmers and retirees. I regularly engage the community in the events I offer and they have responded to the concept of this project with a lot of enthusiasm.

As a social practice artist and community builder, I have decades of experience creating works of music and dance and hosting events that support and inspire creativity and connection within my community. As a rural artist, I often feel alone in my profession. This grant is inspiring in its nature to support and connect rural artists. By its very existence, it acknowledges the value of my work and pushes me to grow.

2. Describe how you feel the community and/or place is represented in this project OR how you hope it will affect the community in which the program will be presented. We encourage you to be imaginative and creative here!

Cherry Valley is known for its natural beauty, historic heritage and vibrant arts community. We have a long history of farming and as a place of retreat, as our resplendent nature creates a perfect respite from the hectic world. Yet the last twenty or so years have been hard for Cherry Valley. Our Main Street dried up, we became a food desert and except for a couple stalwart holdouts and the school, there were no places to gather and celebrate what makes our community unique. These have led to a quickly shrinking population and a general sense of barrenness and desperation.

This is the condition I found my home in when I moved back three years ago. So I drew on my background in the arts, community building and sustainable economic development and got to work actively rebuilding the heart of Cherry Valley as a Creative Placemaker. I founded a group called Rebirth Cherry Valley (now Businesses of Historic Cherry Valley) that has created multiple annual festivals that have brought the community together and reduced our empty storefronts from 90% to 10%. I also started a business called The Telegraph School, which hosts many opportunities for creativity and community building.

We have come far in the last three years and have much to show for it. I am now ready to return to my role as a Social Practice Artist and engage the community through interactive creative projects with long-term impact. My hope is that through the Cherry Valley Water Project, my community will slow down and notice the beauty and vitality of their surroundings. By attending a workshop and sitting by the creek for an afternoon, slowly drafting a poem, they will feel less alone and more connected to nature. By building the courage to share that poem in front of an audience and online, they will grow more proud of themselves and their surroundings. Together we will bond in new ways, becoming vulnerable and resilient, all while developing a deep love for the flowing water that surrounds us all.

3. Budget for the project – all funds may be allocated as you see fit but must be listed in
the budget section. Describe any other funding source here and how you anticipate the
division of any funding you receive.

Income
CVCFC – Sponsoring Agency & grant source
Otsego County Bed Tax?
OCCA funds?

Expenses
Artist Fees – me
– movement workshop
– interviews
– map creation
– director & producer of final live show
Artist Fees – others
– writing workshop
– song-writing workshop
– puppet-building workshop
– sound bath / nature bathing workshop
Materials
– handheld video-camera/audio recorder
– puppet supplies
– set materials
Marketing
– flyers/posters/website/social media/hours of labor
Travel
– to required workshops for the grant
– to do the interviews
– to pick up supplies

Timeline:
Include a timeline of completion milestones throughout the proposed project
This timeline should be reviewed with a representative of your sponsoring agency, if applicable. The timeline should be signed by both you and the sponsor representative

Interviews & Watershed Mapping – April, May
Workshops – June, July, August
Assemble performance – September
Performance – Early October

Additional Docs

Proof of residency

Letter of endorsement/cooperation from sponsoring agency / proposed site and/or community
involved in project if necessary
CVCFC, DEC, OCCA

Sample of previous work (5-10 images, 3-5 min presentation)

Resume/CV