Abigail DeVille's Light of Freedom arrives at the Momentary on March 25
Spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement over this past year, Abigail Deville’s 13-ft reference to the Statue of Liberty’s iconic torch will be on outdoor display at the Momentary from March 25 to Sept. 26. Free to the public, the installation is encased in scaffolding and filled with found objects. The construction intentionally appears as a work in progress, underscoring the yet-to-be-achieved promise of Lady Liberty.
DeVille has exhibited at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, New Museum in New York, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She has received awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Van Lier Fund of New York Community Trust and Creative Capital.
Arkansas Legislature moves forward with bills supporting immigrant education
Immigrant students in Arkansas can now qualify for state scholarships. Senate Bill 287 by Sen. Bart Hester was overwhelmingly approved in the House and the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The law will enable tens of thousands of immigrant students in Arkansas to apply for state scholarships, as long as the student or the student’s parent has a work permit. The new qualifications will affect a broad range of immigrants in Northwest Arkansas, including the Marshallese and Latinx communities. The bill does not qualify immigrant students to apply for the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship.
Two additional bills supporting immigrant education passed through the House and head to the Senate. House Bill 1451 by Rep. Megan Godfrey permits public schools in the state to adopt a bilingual or dual-language immersion program, something currently prohibited under state law. The bill would allow school districts to adopt approved bilingual programs and dual immersion programs. If passed, HB1451 would not force public schools to include those programs, but it would present a decision for each public school district in the area to consider.
House Bill 1594 by Rep. DeAnn Vaught allows the state Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to grant a teaching license to beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, to would-be educators who fulfill the requirements to teach in the state.
Grow AR Own series offers solutions to disparities in lending to minority-owned businesses in Arkansas
Women-owned and minority-owned businesses in Arkansas often face obstacles in accessing capital. This disparity is a systemic issue that could be improved with education, outreach and more diversity among lenders, a panel of Arkansas bank leaders and a small-business owner discussed as part of Winthrop Rockefeller’s Grow AR Own series. The series results from a new report that found in the last three years, minority business owners in Arkansas applied for lending at a disproportionately lower rate than white business owners but were denied lending at a higher rate. Precise Data Consulting prepared the report for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Winrock International.
As a part of Grow AR Own, leaders from the public, nonprofit and banking sectors will develop solutions to improve lending policy and implement other equitable practices that support the growth of entrepreneurs of color and all small businesses in Arkansas. These solutions are the first step among business leaders, financial institutions, policymakers and researchers to work together to eliminate disparities in capital access.
Asian business association creates strong entrepreneurial network for the region
We recently sat down with Yang Luo-Branch, founder and president of the Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses, to learn more about the origin of the network and upcoming efforts to engage the Arkansas Asian business community around common projects and interests. “I could sit back and wonder if someone would take the lead and create a platform, or I could do it myself,” said Luo-Branch. “People like myself coming from another culture into Arkansas, there is nobody championing us for personal and professional development. I had to figure out my way to adapt to the mainstream American workplace.”
A new quarterly series, Arkansas-Asia Briefing, will debut at 8 a.m. on Thursday, March 25 . Participants will have an opportunity to learn more about the AAAB, connect with the larger network and share current projects.
Venture Noire launches new cohort program to advance Black-owned businesses
With a $1.3 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation, Venture Noire, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Black and minority entrepreneurs, will launch In The Black. In the Black is an eight-week program dedicated to advancing the overall health of Black-owned businesses in critical fields like consumer technology, healthcare and fintech. The initiative seeks to address income inequality by improving minority workforce creation and development, ultimately helping to close America’s racial wealth gap.
Venture Noire is recruiting qualified entrepreneurs across the U.S. to join the inaugural program, culminating with a showcase in Northwest Arkansas attended by industry leaders and investors.
Fayetteville to rename street for Nolan Richardson
The Fayetteville City Council unanimously approved a resolution to rename one of the busiest streets on the University of Arkansas campus to Nolan Richardson Drive. Formerly Leroy Pond Drive, Nolan Richardson Drive sits in front of Bud Walton Arena, the home of the men’s and women’s Razorback basketball teams. Fayetteville councilman D’Andre Jones presented the resolution brought to him by the University of Arkansas Black Alumni Society.
Crimes targeting Asian Americans have risen dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition that tracks incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. reported nearly 3,800 instances of discrimination against Asians in the past year. The actual number could be much higher.
Check out this guide to resources to ending anti-Asian violence in our communities.