Imagination for our Imagined Nation

Imagination for our Imagined Nation

Daniel Gray-Kontar

2017 Finalist
Transformative Arts & Culture category

Daniel Gray-Kontar pitched his idea at Accelerate 2017 to send five young Cleveland artists to the Brave New Voices Festival and Competition in San Francisco in Summer 2017 through his Twelve Literary and Performative Arts incubator.

In addition to the $2,000 Daniel won at Accelerate, Twelve Literary and Performative Arts incubator received a $20,000 capacity-building grant from The Cleveland Foundation. He also received donations from Oswald Companies (an Accelerate category sponsor) and Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland to support sending the five youth to represent Cleveland at the Brave New Voices Festival and Competition. Daniel also received a $300 grant from Fund the Change for his work in arts education and social justice.

The five youth to represent Cleveland were selected from 14 finalists who presented at the One Mic Open Youth Poetry Slam Final Competition on March 31.

Twelve Literary Arts and Karamu House presented “Merge at Karamu,” an intersection of poetry, music, visual arts, film, and dance on April 1. Daniel is also hosting a series of six art project workshops in Slavic Village for community members. The community Art Project will be focused on poetry and performative arts and the final products will be displayed and installed at Rooms to Let: CLE in May 2017.

Daniel also received a $5,000 grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture to host a series of “Poetry for the People” events this summer at Public Square, featuring the five youth headed to San Francisco. The final event takes place on Saturday, August 26th from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. PressureLife did a short snippet on YouTube about the events.

Twelve Literary and Performative Arts completed their 501c3 filing, and will have decision by early October and have instituted a nine-member board, including executive board members Dr. Mary E. Weems (president), Michael G. Salinger (vp), John Torres (treasurer), and Charles Ellenbogen (Secretary).

Twelve Literary Arts was hired to write a choreopoem in celebration of the 50 year anniversary of the election of Carl B. Stokes as the first African American mayor elected in a major American city. The production, written by Daniel and the student interns at Twelve Literary Arts, took place at Karamu Theater on Saturday, June 10th.

Twelve Literary Arts released a limited edition “Role of the Artist” t-shirt, featuring the likeness of writer and social activist James Baldwin.

In addition to sending the youth to San Francisco this summer, Twelve has also supported the adult poetry slam team’s trip to Denver. Five poets, including Daniel, headed to Denver to represent Cleveland in August 2017.

Twelve Literary Arts is in the process of more than doubling their studio space.

Off of the strength of his Accelerate 2017 presentation, Daniel was invited to speak at the Fund for our Economic Future’s annual meeting in September 2017.

Daniel was featured in Scene Magazine’s 20-17 “People Issue.”

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