ABOUT THE GRANT
ABOUT THE PROJECT
In August of 2017, a sculpture named Helping Hands was installed on a vacant city-owned lot in Trenton, NJ. It was designed and built by 16 students from a summer camp run by two local nonprofit organizations. Following a newspaper article that raised concerns about the sculpture too closely resembling a gang symbol, the piece was removed. An uproar in the community followed, leading to discussions about free speech, artistic interpretation, gentrification, and poverty. Ultimately, a group of volunteers formed to discuss the creation of a public art policy for the city. However, when a gang-related shooting occurred at a local arts festival just one year later, the incident made national headlines, and the city of Trenton was asked to reinvestigate its past to address the reality of its present.
The OK Trenton Project is a two-year development process that will lead to the performance of a documentary-style play about a community’s unique relationship to both art and gang violence. Told through the words of Trenton’s law enforcement, city officials, artists, residents, and students, this play will share the unique history of New Jersey’s state capital and its journey to find revitalization and healing through the vision of local artists.