REGI Grants Announced!

The Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) developed this project grant in partnership with its nine Designated Regional Service Organizations, of which the Southeastern CT Cultural Coalition is one, which make up a valuable statewide service network.

The Regional Initiative grant program (REGI) awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. The REGI program supports small projects that support access to the creative process and/or creative experience, especially those projects that experiment with new ways to apply the arts within community.


KELLY MIDDLE SCHOOL PLAYWRIGHT PROJECT will teach Norwich Public School children in grade 7 and 8 the art of play writing in an after school program designed to increase exposure to the arts and increase student ability to problem solve by writing skits based on personal experience with that topic. Students will collaborate with Eugene Cello, a local writer and director, and Norwich Art Center, to create the plays and bring them to life as actors, directors, and set designers. The project will culminate in performances for their middle school peers, and for children in Norwich elementary schools, to spread the message that problems can help us to discover our true potential.

STUDENT ARTS PROJECT TO PROMOTE KINDNESS will engage middle and high school students in New London County to produce paintings or drawings depicting kindness, accompanied by poetry or essays created by the artist or a collaborator. Envision Kindness Inc. will work with arts teachers and administrators in New London County and the Arts Division of the State of CT Department of Education to solicit entries, and Connecticut artists will serve as judges. A physical and virtual exhibit promoting kindness, empathy, and compassion through the arts is planned for June, 2017.

JWL SCHOOL BEAUTIFICATION PROJECT will bring students and staff at Juliet W. Long Elementary School in Gales Ferry together to collaborate and complete an artistic project to beautify an exterior wall near the main entrance to the school building. Professional artist and muralist, Michael McNabney, will work with classroom and art teachers and students in 3rd through 6th grade to design and implement a cohesive mural, exploring possible artistic representations (paint, clay, sculpture) and artistic styles. The project reflects the school’s goals of Creativity, Collaboration, Community and Problem Solving as the student’s individual art and ideas come together in a unique piece of public art.

YOUTH MURAL PROJECT will combine history with creativity in Norwich as youth engage in their community to create and install a large-scale mobile mural depicting young hands fixing, painting, and preserving the city’s historic buildings. Artist and teacher Sherrie Parentau will supervise the project working with youth from the region’s Youth Empowerment Group, hosted by Our Piece of the Pie, Inc., and Reliance House. Our Piece of the Pie helps 14 to 24 year-old urban youth become successful, economically independent adults. Reliance House is a mental health center with a mission to enhance health through mental wellness. Innovative materials will allow for indoor and outdoor exhibition of the completed project throughout the community.

ENGAGING WITH HIGH SCHOOL AGE AUDIENCES will bring the students of the Norwich Free Academy Student Art Association together with volunteers from the Norwich Arts Center to create a team that will identify, produce, and promote a public art event appealing to high school students. Visual artist Susan Scott Kenney will also serve in an advisory capacity to mentor and train visual arts students in areas such as portfolio and gallery show development. The project will set the groundwork for ongoing collaboration between the two Norwich entities.

COMMON THREAD project will bring increased awareness of art therapy in Southeastern Connecticut and, through collaboration, a 20% cost savings in shared art supplies used by the four collaborating organizations: Reliance House (Norwich), The Light House (Groton and Niantic), Horses Healing Humans (North Stonington) and United Community & Family Services (Norwich).  Each organization will meet with artist Jerry Wagner to integrate fabric art into their therapeutic process. Photographer Zachary Turner will document the independent creation process at the four sites, culminating in at least two Common Thread Art Shows showcasing both the artwork and the photographic story of the project.

TROUBADOUR TRAIL will musically acquaint residents and visitors to Norwich telling about the people, places, and events in Norwich history via excerpts of songs and narration on location at local historic sites and virtually on the internet. Tom Callinan will work with the Norwich Historical Society to produce the project and Norwich Community Development Corporation will help to promote the project with an expected debut in June, 2017.

BLACK LIGHT GARDEN will bring the community together through art. Students, senior citizens, and other interested community members will design and fabricate a large-scale outdoor installation of environmentally significant flora and fauna. Working with Project Manager, Amy Hannum, and blacklight installation artist Johanna Z. from Ocular Delights, the group will display these three-dimensional glowing sculptures each night during the Salon des Independants at Hygenic Art Park in New London.

GIRLS IN JAZZ BAND MUSIC WRITING CAMP will bring together middle and high school girls from the Norwich/New London area who have never participated in a community band, for a Spring Break camp focusing on music composition utilizing the work of Hygienic Art poets. Project facilitator, vocal coach, and musician, Kia Baird will coordinate guest lecturers to teach master classes and mentor inspiring musicians and vocalists, who can have played or sung for as little as one year. The camp will culminate in a performance at the Garde Arts Center.

For a complete list of REGI Grant recipients across the state, VIEW ALL RECIPIENTS.


CHARLIE CHASE is President of the Board of the Norwich Arts Center.  A life-long poet, Charlie was instrumental in bringing Slam Poetry to Connecticut in 1993, setting up more than a dozen venues across the state and earning a spot on Connecticut’s first Slam Poetry team that competed at the International Poetry Slam finals in San Francisco.  His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Author of four books of poetry and co-editor of a poetry anthology, Charlie has been a member of numerous poetry groups and is past-president of the Middletown chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society.  He worked in business for nearly forty years, is a Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory Management, was President of the Seaport Chapter of the professional society APICS, and co-wrote the Just-In-Time course for APICS’ Applied Manufacturing Education Series.

GREG GRIPPO (“GRIPPO”) is an artist, activist and provocateur. Grippo attended Paier School of Art and was a founding and incorporating member of Hygienic Art, Inc. As an early gay activist and DJ, Grippo hosted “Same Difference” on a college radio show and was a supporter of CT’s Gay Rights bill. Grippo is a mixed media artist and regular exhibitor at Slater Memorial Museum’s annual “CT Artists Show” as well as a frequent art donor to Hartford’s “Art for AIDS” benefit exhibit. Grippo is a former officer of Norwich Heritage Trust and dedicated to the preserving Norwich’s architecture. Grippos is involved in preserving the historical Teel House in Norwich. Influenced by his lifetime blind partner, Grippo is currently exploring abstract three-dimensional art forms involving light, sound and texture.

KATE MCDONALD is the Development Manager at Otis Library in Norwich, CT and an adjunct professor at Mitchell College and Southern Connecticut State University. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Government from Connecticut College and a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from Southern Connecticut State University. Kate has worked in non-profits for more than 15 years in grants, events, marketing and development including time at Waterford Country School, Safe Futures and the Connecticut Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Brian T. Dagle Foundation. Kate grew up in New London and now lives in Waterford with her husband and daughter.

KEITH TURNER is a mortgage loan representative for McCue Mortgage in southeastern Connecticut, based in New London. He is a member of the Rotary Club and the Young Professionals of Eastern Connecticut, a group affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. Keith is a member and patron of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and a firm believer in the economic and quality-of-life values the arts bring to southeastern Connecticut. Keith is a board member of the Southeastern CT Cultural Coalition.

MELINDA WILSON grew up in Bethel, Maine and graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a BS Economics. In 1991 she relocated to eastern Connecticut where she owned and operated a start-up business, which became a successful chain of retail stores. As she raised two children and fostered countless rescue dogs, she led Norwich community volunteer efforts to establish a dog park and a community garden. In 2005, she joined the professional workforce for the City of Norwich and continues that work on a part-time basis today. Her experience with the practical aspects of Business, Finance and Human Resources, and the perspective provided by her volunteer work throughout the region, led her to Grant Writing for a local non-profit health care agency, United Community and Family Services. She enjoys matching philanthropists’ goals with programs that achieve positive, long lasting impact in the regional community and beyond.

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