Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation funds art teachers for the next generation

Funding art teachers for the next generation
By Walter Ang

The Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation recently announced their latest batch of grantees for the ACC Philippines Fellowship Program.

"The ACC supports cultural exchange in the visual and performing arts between the United States and countries of Asia by providing fellowship grants to artists, scholars, and specialists undertaking study, research, observation, and creative work in the United States," says Teresa Rances, ACC Program Representative in Manila.

"Some grants are also made to arts organizations and educational institutions if they have projects that have special significance to Asian-American cultural exchange."

Established in 1963 by John D. Rockefeller III, the ACC began to operate as an independent foundation in 1980. The council's main office is in New York and branch offices are located in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipei.

Though grants have been awarded to Filipinos since 1963, the Manila office was finally established in 2001?the same year that ACC Philippines Foundation was established. The foundation is ACC's partner in fundraising in the country.

"The grantees are all chosen by ACC New York. Once initial applications are screened, the New York office shortlists the applicants who then have to submit their portfolios. It is only then that the Manila office becomes involved by way of assisting these shortlisted applicants in the process," says Rances.

"The New York office will later inform the Manila office who the grantees are. The foundation has nothing to do with and is not involved in the selection of the grantees. It only serves to raise funds for the grantees. As a general rule, ACC New York matches the contribution of ACC Philippines Foundation, thus, enabling more artists and scholars to receive grants each year."

Last year's grantees include Jose Jay Cruz (Dance); Mideo Cruz and Clodualdo Aladen Llana (Visual Arts); Edgardo Maranan (Theater); Grace Nono (Music); and Wawi Navarroza (Photography). Other fields that are considered fro grants include archaeology, architecture, arts administration, art criticism, art history, conservation, crafts, design, film and video, museology, painting, printmaking, and sculpture.

The current ACC Philippines Foundation board of trustees is chaired by businessman and board member of Ballet Philippines Ernest L. Escaler with Ma. Isabel G. Ongpin (wife of former Aquino administration Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin) as president.

"In order to foster the cultural exchange of our artists, The ACC Philippines Foundation undertakes a yearly fundraising event," says Escaler. "We also have some good friends who contribute regularly, like the American Women's Club. But of course, anyone who would like to help out can do so anytime by contacting the foundation."

Trustee Isabel Caro Wilson, Philippine ambassador to Spain and former ACC Philippines chair, says, "Actually, ACC New York didn't use to have fundraisers, but now they do because they were inspired by how we were able to successfully do our first fundraiser in New York City back in 2001, just shortly after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. It proved that we Filipinos are always ready to support our artists. By allowing our artists to learn more outside of the Philippines, we ensure the continuity of excellence in art. Our grantees become teachers for the next generation."

"What is wonderful about supporting the foundation is that you know where your money goes," says fashion designer and trustee Rajo Laurel. "When the artists come back and share what they've learned, you will see that your money is a real investment. This is a form of philanthropy that contributes to nation building."

Last year, ACC Philippines' fundraiser was a fashion show featuring the work of USA-based fashion designer Josie Natori, also a trustee.

"We are already preparing for our next fundraiser, an art auction in February next year," says owner of Boston Gallery and trustee Dr. Joven Cuanang.

"We already have 100 paintings so far and it's a mix of seasoned and up-and-coming painters. Some of the painters include Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, and John Santos. It's also our way of letting Filipinos know that art is for everyone. If you can't afford one of the masters, you can certainly get a painting by one of our younger painters and support their growth, as well as assist with funding the grantees."

"It's nice to know that even if the world is in utter crisis right now, we have an organization that is in place to continually help Filipino artists learn more about their craft," says Laurel. "It is up to us not to forget that artists are the soul of a country."

To donate to the Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation, call 757-3006.

December 14, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer