Spotlight on the Arts – February 2022

Each month we feature arts and community organizations and their programs and projects funded by the Delaware Division of the Arts in our Spotlight on the arts which will be included in our monthly e-newsletter, Arts E-News and online. If you have not yet subscribed to Arts E-News, please do so here.

Funding for the Arts Division grants is provided by the Delaware General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. To view grants awarded in the past (1999 to present), please visit our Grants Awarded page.

Types of grants: SG – General operational assistance; PS – Project support

February 2022

Arden Concert Gilding
Arden Concert Gild proudly presents the Black Opry Revue

The Arden Concert Gild’s mission is to provide a diverse, curated and eclectic mix of musical events to attract audiences open to its unique offerings. The next musical event to take the stage at Arden Gild Hall is the Black Opry Revue on Saturday February 26, 2022. This concert, presented in conjunction with Black History Month, highlights black musicians performing in the mixed genres of country, folk, roots and blues. These musicians have traditionally been underrepresented despite their extraordinary musical sense. The Arden Concert Gild intends not only to serve the musicians who collectively make up the Black Opry Revue, but to connect their music to a wider audience, which includes not only the traditional viewers of the Arden Concert Gild, but also underrepresented groups that are not normally present.

To achieve this goal, the Arden Concert Gild has already begun to reach out to a diverse set of potential audience members and is working in partnership with other organizations such as the Christina Cultural Arts Center and the Wilmington Office of Cultural Affairs. The Arden Concert Gild is also working with the Arden Craft Museum to see if the Arden Concert Gild can offer a photo exhibition on integration in the Ardens as part of Black History Month.

The Arden Concert Gild brings music to the 160-year-old Gild Hall in Arden, Delaware. The hall is nestled in the woods of the world-famous Art Colony and Villages, founded under the “Single-Tax” movement in 1900 by sculptor Frank Stephens and architect Will Price. Serving as a venue for performances dating back to its 1910 renovation, the Gild Hall stage has been graced by Lead Belly, Pete Seeger and Burl Ives, among countless others. The Concert Gild was founded in 1997, producing a handful of shows a year, and has grown since 2002 to include a group of volunteer producers and dozens of volunteers on the day of the show. The Arden Concert Gild is an all-volunteer guild of the Arden Club, a community-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Two adult women sit in front of three female children, probably 3-4 years old, in a colorful classroom.  One adult sits on the floor on a colorful rug with the three children while the other adult sits on a stool.  Both adults raise one hand and point to it with the other hand, showing how to do something to the students, who copy the action.

Kingswood Community Center
Music program for young learners

The Kingswood Community Center Early Learning Academy (ELA) has partnered with the Wilmington Children’s Chorus (WCC) to create a play-based, culturally appropriate and developmentally appropriate music program for young learners. The program caters to all ELA children (ages 12 months to five years) offering developmentally appropriate music lessons. Children learn to explore themselves, their peers, and the world around them through song, movement, instrument exploration, and creative expression during twice-weekly music lessons. The program is designed to help ELA students reach their developmental milestones by incorporating music-based activities appropriate to their curriculum. Access to music education in early childhood can have a huge influence later in life. Unfortunately, early childhood music lessons are expensive – often between $20 and $50 – which makes them out of reach for most families in our Riverside community (Riverside has the highest child poverty rate in Wilmington, more than 70%). Enriching children’s lives with music at such a young age has significant cognitive and social benefits, which last beyond those initial grades and will instill a lifelong love of music in the youngest community center students.

The Music for Early Learners program is a partnership between the Kingswood Community Center (KCC) and the Wilmington Children’s Chorus (WCC). Founded in 1946, Kingswood Community Center, Inc. (KCC) is located in the heart of the Riverside community located in northeast Wilmington. KCC’s mission is to enable the people of Northeast Wilmington and surrounding communities to realize their potential for economic, social and personal well-being. KCC offers programs for the youngest and oldest, as it includes an early learning center for 12 months to 5 years, before and after care, after school programs for school-aged children and a center for seniors in the community. In addition to programming, KCC offers resources, opportunities and events for all ages. The Wilmington Children’s Chorus (WCC) is committed to ensuring that all children, regardless of their family’s ability to pay, have access to a high quality music education. The only tuition-free community children’s choir in the country, their mission is to empower young people to change their world through music.

The project started in September and will carry out a full quantitative analysis at the midpoint (March) and at the end (August). Qualitatively, KCC staff have seen a tremendous impact on children learning the basics of music and literacy, even at a young age. For example, parents told staff that their children sang more at home and encouraged their siblings to sing along, demonstrating increased socialization skills around music. In particular, one mother shared that her three-year-old arranges her stuffed animals in a circle when she comes home from school and sings “hello” songs to each stuffed animal, which mirrors the “hello” songs that children sing to each other. when they start each music class. This demonstrates retention of songs, understanding of the purpose of musical activity, and embracing classroom culture into one’s home life.

Children stand in front of a restaurant counter with plates of food on it and listen to an adult man in a chef's outfit standing behind the counter.  Behind the chef are catering equipment like a fryer and a stove with a flat grill.

Downtown Cultural League

The Inner City Cultural League, Inc. (ICCL), also known as Sankofa, presents many events, programs and activities throughout the year, some for the local community and others for citizens and residents. visitors from across the state. African and African American culture is celebrated through music, art, dance, and theater, linking everything that helps create healthy communities, including technology and physical and mental well-being. Sankofa’s after-school and summer program includes all arts and cultural activities and is also designed to provide extra-curricular activities such as technology, math, reading, and science. Young people from grades 3 to 12 are invited to participate. ICCL’s signature group is the African dancers and drummers of Sankofa. Since the 1990s, young people have been learning and performing West African rhythms and movements. Performances are held at most of ICCL’s annual community events including African American Festival, Positively Dover, Sankofa Cultural Arts Center Awards Gala, Kwanzaa, Black History Program at the city-wide celebration of Dover and the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Some of these events are held in partnership with other organizations. Other performing artists include the ICCL String Orchestra, Steel Drums and Guitar Band. Every other Friday, musicians of all ages and skill levels gather to take part in Sankofa’s Open Jam Session.

ICCL’s mission is to provide community members, especially those who may be considered at risk, with the opportunity to participate in arts and cultural activities, programs and events, to improve decision-making, to build leadership qualities and provide a pathway to social and economic empowerment.

Over the past two years, ICCL’s community impact has grown. Just before 2020, there were about 40 families involved in the various programs and activities (excluding community events) offered by the organization (music, dance, art, theater, after/summer school). At the onset of the pandemic, ICCL’s methods and strategies for connecting with families and community members changed. ICCL moved out of its normal location and started offering programs in atypical locations in order to reach those who do not usually seek out the organization. Since July 2021, the ICCL has reached over 100 families and well over 250 young people. Major community events, such as the annual African-American festival, Positively Dover, were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021 the event took place, as in the past, on the Legislative Mall in Dover, and attendance, although not at pre-pandemic levels, was around 4,000.

Division LogoThe above projects are supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes these and other Delaware arts events on

The Division offers a variety of grant programs for individual artists; tax-exempt nonprofit organizations licensed and based in Delaware; and schools and government entities that support arts activities. See the full list of Division Grants on the Grants Overview page.

This podcast first appeared on Delaware Division of the Arts – State of Delaware.

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