Nō Studios founder John Ridley announced on February 22 that the organization had established the Nō Studios Artist Grant Program.

The program, entirely self-funded by the Nō Studios collaborative, has pledged to give up to $100,000 annually to support Wisconsin artists, especially those in historically underserved populations, to help them realize the completion of their artistic endeavors.

“I remember how challenging it was to find resources to complete the creative projects I wanted to complete,” said John Ridley, Nō Studios founder. “It’s an honor to be able to help fund artists and provide the resources they need to help them realize their vision.”

Individual artists and the creative industry have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. The program adds resources to the Wisconsin artistic community at a critical time. The Artist Grant Program was established to support Wisconsin-based creatives working in a range of disciplines including, but not limited to, visual arts, photography, music, film, dance, fashion, poetry, creative writing and performance.

The program plans to distribute up to $25,000 quarterly to qualifying artists with special consideration given to those identifying as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, or veterans. Individual recipients are eligible to receive grants up to $10,000 each.

Nō Studios partnered with gener8tor, a Wisconsin based platform that provides resources and connections to people working in the creative economy to help run the program. gener8tor will be responsible for handling artist grant submissions, the juried selection process and providing programming support to selected artists through mentoring, professional development and networking opportunities.

“We are fortunate to partner with Nō Studios in advancing this remarkable effort,” said Joe Kirgues, gener8tor co-founder. “By providing a structure of professional development and mentorship, we can support creative professionals and help them execute their creative projects.”

The first application submission round will begin in early March, with grants awarded in June. Individual artists living and working in Wisconsin are encouraged to apply at nostudiosartistgrant.com.

gener8tor will also offer a series of webinars and virtual office hours to help artists with the grant application process. A jury of creative professionals from outside of Wisconsin will review all applications and award the grants.

“Artists help us reflect on our common human experiences be they hopeful, confusing, inspiring or painful,” added Ridley. “At this time in particular, we need individuals who can help us make sense of the times we live in and help us understand life and each other a little bit better.”

In addition to establishing the grant program, Nō Studios has taken certain opportunities afforded by the pandemic to upgrade current live streaming infrastructure and add to its robust virtual programming capability. The in-venue first floor gallery space is being renovated to create a production studio and upgraded performance stage with enhanced lighting, acoustics and cameras. Nō Studios has also acquired professional grade production software and hired e-production experts to manage this program.

To complement its production capability and expand the audience for its virtual programming calendar, Nō Studios has entered into partnerships both in Milwaukee and nationally, including with the UCLA Black Alumni Association and Bridges. The UCLA Black Alumni Association will produce and co-host a series of Nō Studios curated virtual events including Nō Boundaries, an emerging filmmaker series. Bridges, in partnership with Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), will continue a series of events this year similar to the Frankly Music live conversation and performance that featured Anthony McGill in January.

Founded by Academy Award winner and Wisconsin native John Ridley, Nō Studios is both a member-driven physical space based in Milwaukee as well as a digital platform geared toward artists and art lovers.

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