Media Release

Rocket Grants 2015 program awards $59,000 to 11 grant recipients

LAWRENCE, KS, June 12, 2015—The 2015 Rocket Grants have awarded a total of $59,000 for 11 projects, the largest grant amount in the program’s history. Nine projects received Full Project Awards between $4,000 and $6,000, and two projects received Research & Development Awards for $2,000 with a further $3,000 to $4,000 dependent upon an implementation proposal.

“The winning proposals directly involve more than 50 area artists in performances, programs, publications and community engagements, and will draw in many others throughout the course of their development and enactment,” Rocket Grants Program Coordinator Julia Cole said.

Rocket Grants, a project of the Charlotte Street Foundation and the Spencer Museum of Art, supports innovative, artist-driven projects outside of established arts venues. Funding for the program is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Among the 11 projects selected for grants, two are based in Lawrence. Nicholas Ward and Robert Baker received a Full Project Award for their video series Live TV Live, an ad-hoc platform for taking back the local media with contextual history, sardonic wit, and theatrical, inclusive, community-based journalism.

“Each episode is being created through satire to provoke meaningful discourse amongst neighbors, friends, families, colleagues, and strangers,” Ward said. “We have already experienced great public reception of the pilot episode and look forward to generating works that will continue to evoke dynamic discussions.”

Another group of Lawrence artists—Bryon Darby, Aaron Long, Cotter Mitchell, and Aaron Paden—received a Full Project Award for their project Rest Assured, You are Under Video Surveillance. The project will engage thoughtful conversations about rights, privacy, and individual liberties by creating a series of pop-up public installations of Zen gardens containing faux-landscape stones equipped with hidden cameras.

“While your average person may be opposed to the idea of being watched, most have the expectation that someone is, in fact, keeping them safe with a watchful eye on the ‘bad’ guys. It is this duplicity we hope to bring to the surface through these installations,” Darby said. “At the very least, we are hoping for a laugh. Humor is definitely a part of this project as humor can be an access point into a more complex conversation.”

For more information on this year’s Rocket Grants winners, visit . A complete list of 2015–2016 grantees is as follows:

Full Project Awards

An historical performance project in five key locations in the contemporary Kansas City Area that promotes the marginalized and forgotten histories of cross-dressing and queer identity among early American Pioneers.

  • Jessica Borusky: Queer-A-Fest Destiny: Pioneers Reimagined

A multimedia, investigative performance project in collaboration with members of the Kansas City Indian Center, exploring personal histories within the context of the prehistoric, mid-western city of Cahokia to re-envision and celebrate contemporary urban Native identities and community.

  • Maura Garcia: Center of the Universe


An ad-hoc platform for taking back the local media with contextual history, sardonic wit and theatrical, inclusive, community-based journalism.

  • Nicholas Ward & Robert Baker: Live TV Live

A two-issue run of handmade magazines consisting of creative writing, games and art, using first-person narrative, citizen responses, satire and screen-printed art to engage the state of Kansas in a dialogue that provokes political criticism and action.

  • Leah Sewell & Justin Marable: Microburst

A neighborhood-driven initiative to create a community-owned space where people can learn and practice skateboarding as well as occupy an unused public area in a positive way. It will be designed, constructed, maintained, and used by residents of Columbus Park.

  • Ben Hlavacek, Keelin Austin & Garrett Rathbone: The Columbus Park Skate Park

Facilitating the release of consumer excess, by providing dumpsters/recycling opportunities at spiritual and secular sites where participants will be literally and figuratively cheered on, and inserting humorous, subversive fliers into The Kansas City Star.

  • Adriane Herman & Mo Dickens: Goods Riddance: Off Putting

Connecting the struggles of oppressed communities through hosting four art healing events and producing four coloring books made by local artists of color and focused on the organizations’ Points of Unity.

  • Diane Burkholder, Celia Ruiz & Kristin Chow: One Struggle KC Engaging Art / Una Lucha KC Arte Atractivo

A citywide experimental dramatization of the 56th Venice Biennale, reproducing the entire exhibition piece by piece through photocopies and tablets, and installing the work all over KCK and KCMO – accompanied by an elaborate map.

  • Blanket Undercover (Megan Mantia & Leone Reeves): The Mini Vinnie Bini

Engaging thoughtful conversations about rights, privacy, and individual liberties by creating a series of pop-up public installations of Zen gardens containing faux-landscape stones equipped with hidden cameras.

  • Bryan Darby, Aaron Long, Cotter Mitchell, & Aaron Paden: Rest Assured, You Are Under Video Surveillance

Research & Development Awards

Engaging 20 established and high school artists to create visual images, spoken word, and rap performances about domestic violence, child abuse and bullying, and exhibiting these in shelters, community centers, and area businesses.

  • George Mayfield & Erlene Flowers: Unspoken Violence

A mobile laboratory designed to challenge ideas about the resource-less and the resource-full by integrating art and science at accessible sites using found materials and imagination, and encouraging inclusive, playful, cross-community interaction.

  • Minh DuPha: MagiNation
Media Contacts

Elizabeth Kanost

Elizabeth Kanost
Communications Manager