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Three North Shore projects were among 23 awarded grants by the New England Foundation for the Arts for projects intended to promote spatial justice by fostering welcoming, creative public spaces. The recipients include two projects by organizations in Lawrence, and one Salem-based initiative planned by the North Shore CDC.

“Arts can drive the change that makes public spaces in Massachusetts more welcoming and inclusive,” says Giles Li, senior program officer for arts and creativity with the Barr Foundation, which funded the grants. “As we emerge from the isolation we have felt so deeply during the pandemic, these creative leaders are shaping public spaces that welcome all of us back.”

In Lawrence, a a group of three organizations – Essex Art Center, Izizwe Dance Studio, and Ateneo Dominicano de Nueva Inglaterra – received $6,000 to support a social practice artist-in-residence program. Also in Lawrence, youth arts group Elevated Thought was awarded $30,000 to fund the creation of a 30 foot-by-120 foot mural on the organization’s downtown headquarters. In Salem, the Punto Urban Art Museum, a project of the North Shore CDC, will receive $30,000 to support a program allowing residents to design their own murals.

“These artists and organizations are invested in revealing new justice-centered worlds, holding communities with care, and showcasing local creativity of artists in public spaces across the state,” says the foundation’s public art program officer Kamaria Carrington.

Spatial justice is a concept closely aligned with other social, economic, and environmental justice movements. It focuses on how community spaces can be developed and used to combat systemic racism and more fairly distribute social burdens and benefits. The New England Foundation for the Arts launched it spatial justice grants program in 2020, and has awarded more than $1 million to projects across the state