A.I. the Anomaly

A.I. The Anomaly is Leveraging Grants & Resources to Promote Art & You Can Too

Aitina Fareed-Cooke, also known as rapper A.I. The Anomaly, has been working in her Buffalo NY community for years to ignite thought and expand perspectives through the creative arts. She does so through her company Get Fokus’d Productions. It is here where she guides her team through media arts projects to capture human first stories, teach emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and organizations how to capture and share stories and give back to the next generation of young creatives. With close to 20 years of executing professional work within this creative field, it has been an amazing journey creating outlets for creativity in order to empower, encourage, and enlighten her community.

This is why A.I. is proud to announce that she received an Artist Employment Program (AEP) grant from Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) in collaboration with the Buffalo Arts Studio. This grant opportunity was designed to support employment opportunities for artists, the program is funding 98 collaborations involving a dynamic group of 300 artists employed by community-based organizations, municipalities, and tribal governments across New York State. CRNY has awarded a total of $49.9M in funding to support artists’ salaries and benefits, with an additional $11.7M in funding provided to the organizations holding employment.

A.I. sees a program like CRNY as a good stepping stone for other creatives, especially those in the Christian Hip-Hop space. 

“As an independent artist, the more that I moved in this genre, I noticed a river of complaints that people weren’t supporting them as artists or they wanted to be put on or there’s not enough money. At times I too have had thoughts that stir up in the back of my mind, ‘If only I had this much money or this much support I could do XYZ’. I’ve always had the words of Shirley Chisholm whispering in my mind that ‘You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas’. So my idea was to educate myself and find solutions that will support my creative ideas.”

She continued, “In creating solutions one must have this ability of a problem-solving mindset. I know there are other resources, streams of income, and ways in order to make your voice be heard especially when you’re saying something that is going to be beneficial to the body or society as a whole. It’s important to tap into other resources. I tapped into grants and any opportunity that would allow me to speak my heart, speak my truth, and allow me to gain finances in order to work on something that I’m passionate about.”

This grant will allow A.I. to work with Buffalo Arts Studio to tell the stories of artists of color in and around the east side of the Buffalo community to increase awareness and visibility for creatives while mentoring a new generation of storytellers. The collaboration will engage students covering literacy, technical, and communication skills through poetry, photography, and video workshops, deepening Buffalo Arts Studio’s commitment to supporting artists of color.

Artist Employment Program recipients were selected through a two-stage process by a group of twenty external peer reviewers alongside CRNY staff. From an initial pool of over 2,700 written applications, 167 were shortlisted for interviews with reviewers. To view the list of 98 Artist Employment Program participants, visit here.

“Overall, I just want to encourage other entrepreneurs, independent artists, and creative influencers within CHH and anywhere really, especially as Christians,” said A.I. “We’re moving and shaking to find other resources to be smart to work within the ideology which the Bible talks about – moving with excellence. When you move in excellence, you move into order to be educated. So you’re going to research and work hard to find ways to make ways. Don’t make excuses.” 

How to Get Financial Support:

  1. Define your purpose 
  2. Identify your assets as it relates to your purpose 
  3. Identify alignments & allies or ways your purpose can align with current events/social issues (Topics in education, community building, etc.) Identify organizations/companies/entities that deal with those issues.
  4. Research and pursue investment opportunities (grants, reciprocal partnerships, sponsorships, etc.) that relate to your purpose.
  5. Operate in excellence: When you are granted financial support, operate in excellence in order to build a solid reputation within your industry.

“A resource space will be available on my site soon: https://aitheanomaly.com/aikreatives – this will be a creative resource club built to assist creatives in expanding ideas and pursuing financial opportunities to support artistic projects.”

Justin Sarachik

Written by Justin Sarachik

Justin is the Editor-in-Chief of Rapzilla.com. He has been a journalist for over a decade and has written or edited for Relevant, Christian Post, BREATHEcast, CCM, Broken Records Magazine, & more. He also likes to work with indie artists to develop their brands & marketing strategies. Catch him interviewing artists on Survival of the Artist Podcast.

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