In March, the Library announced the ten recipients of the AFC’s Community Collections Grants, officially launching this new, multiyear program. The Community Collections Grants program is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path initiative, which seeks to create new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library of Congress and to add their perspectives to the Library’s collections, allowing the national library to share a more inclusive American story.
The 2022 recipients’ projects are now well underway, each documenting cultural traditions and practices in a wide array of contexts — from Puerto Rico, Hawai’i, and Yap State of the Federated States of Micronesia, to regions, cities, and neighborhoods across mainland U.S. An overarching aim of the grant program is to support cultural communities and social groups in documenting their cultural activities, and to preserve and make accessible the resultant documentation — interviews, videos, and photographs, among other materials — in the AFC archives and through the Library website.
To get to know them better, we are featuring each of the recipients and their projects on the Library’s Of the People blog over the course of this first, grant program year. And kicking off this series is an interview with Junious Brickhouse, the founding director of Urban Artistry (Silver Spring, Maryland), one of the ten awardees of the Community Collections Grants program.
Below is an edited and very brief excerpt from the interview, which you can read in full on the Library’s Of the People blog here.
Congratulations to you and your team, Junious! Tell us about your organization, Urban Artistry, and the project.
Urban Artistry, Inc. (UA) is an internationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to the performance and preservation of art forms inspired by the urban experience. UA focuses on urban dance forms born in Black and Brown urban communities, including Breakin’, House, Hip Hop, Popping/Boogaloo, and Locking, among others. Serving as cultural ambassadors for communities that are often unsung, UA fulfills its mission through collaborations that support artists’ past, present, and future.
Our project is Follow the Music: Exploring the Multi-Linear Legacies of House Culture, or FTM for short. FTM is an initiative to expand upon the common narratives and document a wider range of the community voices that define the multi-linear legacies of House Music and Dance Cultures (HMDC).
As specific HMDCs moved from underground and localized venues to mainstream globalized events (e.g., international battles and workshops), the intricacies of each community of practice have been overshadowed. Battles, demonstrations of dance movement mastery and musicality, that once served as one aspect of HMDC, have become HMDC’s most recognizable visual representation in popular culture and media.
…UA has already carefully documented the development of HMDC in the DMV region, but if we do not take care to support communities to document their own cultures, then the products of our culture may take precedence over the processes by which we sustain them […] The planned cultural documentation activities for this project will serve HMDC communities in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI, New York City, NY, and Oakland, CA alongside primary partners.
The 2023 round of Community Collections Grants applications is now open. Do you have any advice for those interested in applying?
My advice to anyone who is interested in applying is to simply be inspired by the people, the collaborators who make the project and subsequent archival collection possible. Start the planning with care and relationship building in mind. Focus on process and not outcomes, or style…
This is an edited excerpt from my interview with Junious, so click on over to read more about Urban Artistry, the project, and House Music and Dance cultures on the Library’s Of the People blog here. For those interested in applying for the next round of AFC Community Collections Grants (deadline: August 1, 2022), please visit the grant program webpage here.