Cucalorus selected for $25K grant from National Endowment for the Arts

Amanda Leahey, Contributing Writer

After about a year and a half application process, Wilmington’s local nonprofit art organization Cucalorus was recently awarded a $25,000 grant for their annual Cucalorus Film Festival from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 

Previous event at Cucalorus. (Dan Brawley)

Cucalorus, which works to support various art forms and artists through programs and festivals, hosts the Cucalorus Film Festival every November. Unlike other festivals, it does not hand out awards but rather focuses on celebrating artists and their risk-taking 

“The festival really builds on the cultural traditions that are here in this community, said Dan Brawley Cucalorus’s chief instigating officer“You know you’ve got a lot of people that have moved here in the past 10, 20 years, half the population is from somewhere else. You’ve got people who worked in the film industry here for many years, which makes Wilmington very special, you’ve got a lot of people who come here because the beaches are amazing and so that’s another different communitySo, Wilmington is sort of a blend of all these different communities, so we really try to represent that in Cucalorus, and I think that stands out.”  

Through film screenings, performances and thorough conversations on social justice, the festival fosters an exchange of ideas, celebrates artists and praises their boldness. Every year more than half of the festivals are directed by women, and this past year half of the films in the festival were directed by Black, brown and Indigenous filmmakers.  

This focus on providing a spotlight from a diverse set of filmmakers showcases Cucalorus’s value of equity and work to improve social justiceone aspect that the organization may shift towards focusing on in the future.  

Brawley mentioned that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has given Cucalorus the opportunity to reflect on their values and recognize the importance of social justice and experimenting with art. 

Zoom Call at Cucalorus (Dan Brawley)

 “Film is a great pathway to good conversations,” said Brawley, who expressed that there may be a shift towards emphasizing the importance of social justice even more. 

It goes without saying that the grant from the NEA will help to further the endeavors of the Cucalorus Film Festival. From bringing filmmakers to Wilmington and helping fund their travel to paying the artists for the screening of their film and seeking out other funding opportunitiesthe grant will be used to help make the festival what it isa celebration of artists.  

“The National Endowment for the Arts process is really very very competitive, so it’s a huge honor to be selected,” said Brawley.  

Brawley described this grant as one of the key grants that help support artistsThe organization’s other film festivals include the Lumbee Film Festival, which focuses the work of Native American, American Indian and Indigenous filmmakers, and the Surfalorus Film Festivals, which highlights films related to every aspect of surfing. 

Cucalorus is currently working on applying for a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for 2022, but, as a nonprofit, there are ways that the public can support the organization and its festivals. You can help donate to Cucalorus on their website.