New Arts & Mental Health Grants from the Illumination Fund

| 14 Jan 2022 | 09:24

Philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch announced last week that 14 New York City-based organizations will receive grants in the Illumination Fund’s new Arts & Mental Health program, an expansion of its Arts in Health Initiative. The Arts & Mental Health program is designed to increase access to mental health services for communities with long-standing health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 120 arts and culture organizations responded to the Illumination Fund’s open-call Request for Proposals to small and medium sized organizations with budgets under $5 million. The organizations that are receiving grants work in communities that have often been overlooked and under resourced to deal with mental health challenges in their populations.

“After two long years, with so much tragic illness and death, data show that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a mental health pandemic in its wake, especially evident among communities already struggling to overcome other challenges,” said Laurie Tisch, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “More people than ever are in need of mental health services and we want to make sure that our most vulnerable communities have access to programs that can help alleviate their suffering and build resilience.”

Grants in the Arts & Mental Health program are targeted to use the arts as a vehicle to address mental health challenges and to fight stigma that is a barrier to seeking help.

The Illumination Fund’s grantees based in or serving Manhattan are:

Art Start: To hire its first clinical social worker for creative arts workshops for system-involved youth and youth and families experiencing homelessness.

Common Threads: Creation of two groups of refugee women and survivors of gender-based violence in partnership with the Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture and City College’s Psychological Center, using the healing properties of creating story-cloths in a sewing circle with other survivors. Participants can also show work in exhibitions that raise awareness of gender-based violence.

Dances for a Variable Population: Developing “Moving Minds,” an adaptation of its Movement Speaks® program: Adding a mental health specialist to expand and enhance dance and movement workshops for older adults in Harlem, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side.

Dance/NYC: New programs to provide mental health support for the organization’s staff, which serves thousands of dancers, dance workers and dance organizations.

Darkness RISING Project: Music performances and facilitated discussions for the Black community and intersecting members of the LGBTQIA community, the Latinx community, formerly incarcerated people and artists with lived mental health challenges.

DE-CRUIT Veterans Program: Theater workshops utilizing Shakespearean plays to spark dialogue and address the mental health needs of vulnerable military veterans, with a special focus on veterans of color, low-income and incarcerated veterans.

IndieSpace: Community Care Program and Mental Health Resources serving BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ disabled and immigrant individual artists.

Kundiman: Trauma-informed creative writing workshops and annual retreat for the Asian American writers’ community.

Redhawk Native American Arts Council: Serving indigenous community members across NYC, Redhawk Native American Arts Council has created Healing Through Indigenous Culture and Traditions to offer indigenous people the opportunity to create traditional instruments and learn songs and dances to foster connections between traditions and use music-making and songs as a means of storytelling.

For more information, visit or follow @LMTischFund on Twitter.