Roger and Sal working on progress board

Moving Arts Española co-founders Roger Montoya (left) and Salvador Ruiz work on a progress board for a 2019 fundraiser. The group landed a $100,000 grant from Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation that will be used to expand music programs for teenagers.

    The newest Moving Arts Española grant will help provide a new location and activities with the hopes of keeping children engaged through their teenage years.

    The $100,000 grant from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation will provide for Moving Arts to design a space in the former Ohkay Owingeh casino dome for programs for teenagers.

    The Thoma Art Foundation is co-headquartered in Chicago and Santa Fe, and offers grants to organizations, and collects and exhibits art.

    Moving Arts Co-Founder and State Representative-elect Roger Montoya said the current organization is great for children and pre-teens, but that children “age out” of the program at 12 or 13.

    “It is very important to us to look at the holistic needs of young people,” Montoya said.

    The grant will begin a process of creating programs for teenagers, including technology-based arts enrichment, music, digital media and potentially a behavioral health partnership with the Ohkay Owingeh Health and Human Services Department.

    “The last couple years, we expanded our music program,” Montoya said. “It usually was with very young kids. But, suddenly, we offered clinical guitar, and we had a rock and roll band. And so, the place is being filled with teenagers all of a sudden. And it was really inspiring, because they’re really taking to music.”

    He said Moving Arts plans to add a commercial kitchen, which will allow them both to expand the food program and to provide culinary arts courses. They would add laboratories for programs such as photography and digital media, and expand spaces for movement programs for teenagers.

    Foundation Programs Officer Sarah Rovang said after the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, the Foundation began looking for ways to be productive in the community. That led to a new grant program piloted in New Mexico, and began reaching out to nonprofits in the “intersection of arts, education and community.”

    The Moving Arts grant is the first one for the new equity program, though they offer grants including academic research, conferences and museum exhibitions. Rovang said she visited the site in the fall and decided to offer the grant.

    Montoya said the grant will help them launch the vision, and provide for assessment, planning, and outlining programming before the building phase.

    “We feel our communities’ expectations for us to lead in helping our teen population,” Moving Arts Board President Steve Cox said in a press release. “We want to boldly push ahead and grow in a way that permits us to serve the teens in our region by honoring the strengths of our programming for children while presenting opportunities, paths, and strategies for teens. This grant from the Thoma Foundation will help us to literally build a new program.”

    Foundation Communications Specialist Nicole Danti said the Foundation is looking to expand the partner grants to other states, including Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas and Illinois.

    Montoya said that the CNN Heroes recognition has helped Moving Arts expand its donor base, which is part of what led to the grant.

    Danti said she hopes with the matching grant other donors will come forward to raise more money for the expansion and rebuild.

    Rovang said she hopes they can capitalize with partnerships Moving Arts has with other local organizations and nonprofits.

    Montoya said he will stay on as artistic director for this year, though he will take a leave of absence during the legislative session. But Moving Arts has hired a successor, Laura Garrett, who will take over by the end of 2021.

    “It’s very exciting, because every organization has to have a succession plan,” he said. “We’ve been working for six years (on the plan) and I’m excited that we finally are moving toward that next step of a new generation taking Moving Arts forward.”

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