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The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission is thrilled to announce the winners of its 2023 Sister City Grants Program!  Please congratulate the applicants who proposed the following five project ideas:

Les Amitiés Musicales:
Building Ties with the Besançon Music Community

Daniel & Shelby Sender

2023 Grant Awardees

Les Amitiés Musicales: Building Ties with the Besançon Music Community:

Musicians Daniel and Shelby Sender applied for a grant to support a multi-day arts residency at the local high school in Besançon, the Lycée Pasteur.  There they will hold masterclasses with students and musicians, as well as perform a concert featuring music by Besançon-born composers and African-American composer Florence Price. Lucky Charlottesville music lovers and Francophiles will get to preview the performance, when the Senders put on a pre-trip concert here in Charlottesville!

Mapping & Art: Teaching the Geography of the Sister Cities to Children:

Alexandria Searls, on behalf of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, proposed a series of educational workshops to be held with local children, to teach them about all four of our Sister/Friendship Cities through creative map-making.  Her project will integrate hands-on artwork into learning about the geography and cultures of our partner cities. Artist/dancer Somé Louis and artist/photographer Stacey Evans will assist Ms. Searls in designing and running the workshops, and the resulting curriculum will be made available to Charlottesville and Albemarle public schools.     

MisMatch Around the World (Poggio a Caiano):

Writer, filmmaker and artist/healer Darnell Walker put forward a plan to make a collection of short videos featuring the adventures of the friendly character “MisMatch,” undertaking a learning trip to our Italian Sister City, Poggio a Caiano.  Available on YouTube and intended especially for kids, the videos will document MisMatch’s experiences – through his whimsical videocasts children here and there will be able to connect with people, places, and daily life in Poggio.  

Sister Revolutions (Besançon):

Dr. Benjamin Bernard requested funding to produce a history-oriented public media podcast highlighting the ways in which Besançon and Charlottesville were involved in their respective 18th-century revolutions.  Together with local audio producer Sage Tanguay, he will collect and assemble content from both cities, so as to offer a multi-part audio production in English, parts of which will also be accessible in French.  The project “will start a community conversation leading to the upcoming 250th anniversary of the American Revolution in 2026”; it will also be connected to larger national initiatives participating in “America 2026,” the official anniversary celebration.

A Tale of Two Cities: Exploring Huehuetenango:

Elias Alonzo, on behalf of the Ixtatán Foundation, proposed six 30-minute podcast episodes featuring residents of Charlottesville and Huehuetenango who are connected in various ways, be they economic, educational, governmental, artistic, etc.  A “Tale of Two Cities” will be produced in collaboration with Lilian Cruz, founder and host of Guatecuenta, a successful podcast featuring content on Guatemala. Directed to Charlottesville and area residents, Alonzo’s program will explore various features of Huehuetenango to deepen listeners’ knowledge and understanding of our Guatemalan Friendship City.  The podcast content aims also to encourage collaboration and exchanges between Huehuetenango and local organizations and businesses.  

The Sister Cities Commission thanks all the applicants and awardees for their enterprising ideas seeking to better unite the members of our diverse communities and promote cultural connection and understanding among our Sister and Friendship Cities.  

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