4 Brooklyn artists receive Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts grants

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Four artists from Brooklyn are among a group to get grants as part of the Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts.

Now in its 27th year, the program honors innovators in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theater, and the visual arts.

In light of the hardships imposed by the pandemic, the number of grants has doubled this year from five to 10.

For people of a certain age, the sounds of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass are part of our childhood.

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As a young man with a horn, he sold 72 million records and made a vast second fortune by starting a record label with Jerry Moss called A & M Records.

Today, he spends much of his time giving back. He said that what happened to him was "way beyond" his dreams, and he "always wanted to pass it on."

In keeping with that philosophy, Alpert got on a Zoom call this week with three of the Brooklyn-based recipients of the unrestricted grants.

"I think the artists are the heartbeat of our democracy, and it's a shame that we don't really encourage artists like we used to," he said.

Toshi Reagon, an appreciative musician and theater artist, noted that the $75,000 she and the others will receive will help her sustain a career.

"After this year, where so many of us lost," she said. "All of our gigs got canceled, so this will be helpful to digging out of some of the holes."

Another beneficiary is theater artist and director Kaneza Schaal, who shared her intentions.

"I want to build a home," she said. "I want to build a creative home in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, where I live."

She plans a home for other artists like herself, working along the cutting edge.

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Another who got a grant was filmmaker Adam Khalil.

"It was really affirmation and an opening up of possibilities to continue this practice," he said. "It's been very precarious."

The grants honor innovative work.

"I always liked the road less traveled," Alpert said. "I think the artists who are doing something a little left of center, just not quite what you expect."

As the call finished up, the gratitude of these artists was obvious as each applauded the famous musician's commitment.

"It shows that it is actually possible to sustain a community of artists," Reagon said.

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