WYPR Gets $25,000 Federal Grant to Support, Expand its ‘Out of the Blocks’ Series

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Logo via WYPR-FM

The folks over at the Baltimore School for the Arts aren’t the only locals celebrating a victory from the National Endowment for the Arts’ latest round of grants.

Baltimore NPR affiliate WYPR-FM will receive a $25,000 award from the federal agency supporting arts programming around the country, according to a release. The money comes from the agency’s Art Works funding program, which supports projects that achieve “the highest standards of excellence,” support public engagement and “lifelong learning in the arts” and strengthen communities, according to its website.

The grant will support the station’s two-year-old “Out of the Blocks” radio docu-series. The program, which has been around since July 2015, profiles blocks around the city in a bi-weekly podcast, with production from Aaron Henkin and soundtracking and imagery from composer Wendel Patrick. Episodes from this year currently posted online have highlighted the 600 block of Cherry Hill Road (June 5, with a part two forthcoming next month) and the 2100 block of Edmondson Avenue (Jan. 4).

“We’re appreciative of the grant in recognizing what an absolutely terrific program and podcast ‘Out of the Blocks’ is,” said Andy Bienstock, WYPR’s vice president and program manager, on a phone call.

This is the first NEA grant the station has received in recent memory, he said. “It’s very rare.”

WYPR was planning to continue running Henkin’s and Patrick’s program with or without the federal funding boost, but will now be able to expand its storytelling to other cities outside of Baltimore, Bienstock said.

The station is one of 21 recipients of NEA grants in Maryland. The Baltimore School for the Arts also received an Art Works award in the amount of $20,000 to support its 35-year-old TWIGS program, which provides art, theater and music classes to elementary and middle schoolers around the city.

Other local grantees took home even bigger prizes. Center Stage Baltimore received $100,000 to partner up with the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts on an outdoor theatrical production called “Center Stage in the Park.” Young Audiences of Maryland received $90,000 for its “Arts Empowered Minds Initiative,” which supports teaching artists and organizations offering school-based arts education, broader access to extracurricular programs and arts integration-focused professional development for teachers.

All in all, the state is receiving nearly $3 million in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The agency has awarded $82 million in organizations around the country in this most recent funding round.

Click here and go to p. 113 to read the full list of Maryland NEA grant recipients.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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