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Ile Oro is pleased to announce that we have been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Challenge America award. This grant will support Ile Oro to produce workshops and interactive presentations to uplift the community while creating a sense of connectedness for those who have forgotten their African roots. This grant is one of 262 Challenge America awards totaling $2.62 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with Ile Oro strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”

Art for the Yorùbá is essentially a historical and iconographical record of their culture. The origin of this record starts with their relationship to ideology. Art, for example, interacts with the divine through visible and tangible devices, such as linguistics, meaningful materials, performance play, rhythms and songs, culinary, fashion, aesthetics, and dramatic festivals. The Challenge America award supports Ile Oro in taking pride in and having adoration for the Yorùbá value systems. The award will support our work while engaging with the community to help create interactive experiences using rhythm, song, dance, and aesthetics to tell the stories behind them. Furthermore, Ile Oro will announce artist calls and organize folkloric arts workshops to develop interactive presentations and cultural demonstrations for the community.

"Our mission is to inspire art, spirituality, and black excellence as a cultural foundation to enhance personal development, deepen familial bonds, and support BIPOC towards creating a legacy that promotes world peace. We identify with Yorùbá as a cultural identity and have a great appreciation for the Yorùbá value systems existing in natural relationships concerning the community and nature. They promote an eco-respecting, eco-friendly and sustainable way of life. Partnering with NEA allows Ile Oro to use the arts to inspire these value systems."— Alaje Fadesiye, Executive Director

Ile Oro is grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to working with the NEA to finalize the grant paperwork and to give appreciation to the agency for supporting this project.

This grant support arts projects in communities nationwide

The Challenge America grant supports Ile Oro in producing immersive experiences for BIPOC to uplift African art and culture, including song, rhythm, dance, and aesthetics. To accomplish this and help tell the story of our ancestral heritages, we will focus on our Artistic Development Program (THE SHRINE) to recruit local community artists to create artistic and collaborative works. We hope to reach BIPOCs who have lost their connectedness to their African roots by using our platform to uplift them. 

This project allows Ile Oro to engage with its immediate community while uplifting themes of African culture like ancestral legacy and black excellence. In 2023, we will begin by recruiting community artists to motivate and provide them with representation and artistic development. The Challenge America grant is an investment toward this project to focus on our ability to build the capacity to support the project in the future. 

During the period of performance for the grant, we will create opportunities for community artists and creatives to come together to collaborate and produce interactive and culturally inspired artistic works. We are now calling for community artists located primarily on the South Side of Chicago. For artists interested in joining the Artist Development Program, please send an email to with with "Artist Development Program" in the subject line and express your interest, including a short bio and attachments of samples of your work along with the submission. There are no fees required. We are looking for college students and young adults but will review inquiries from all applicants. We are also looking for designers, musicians, singers, and dancers that have experience or create African-inspired work for sample submissions. 

After we have selected artists for this grant period, we will have artistic development workshops to groom them and provide them with directions to advance their artistic practices while creating opportunities for artists to come together to produce collaborative works. Our Artistic Director will develop relationships with these artists through one-to-one interactions focusing on technique. We will expose these artists throughout the South Side of Chicago, where promotional activities resulting from this grant occur. The ultimate goal of this project is to promote African culture in every way through storytelling and live performance. 

Because the activities resulting from the project will be available to the public, we ensure equity and accessibility. We specifically do not discriminate against color, LGBTQ+, people with disability, or neuro-divergent populations. We will remain open to perspectives and lived experiences and seek to understand how identity may be part of finding one’s place in the world. 


Artistic Development Led by Asiel Adetoye, Artistic Director

Asiel is originally from Chicago. The most recent credit for Asiel is performing with Megan the stallion on her old Hollywood-inspired Grammy performance. In recent years, Asiel has toured with Shania Twain and then received a promotion with her camp to choreograph her Vegas residency. He has toured with Lady Gaga as her dance captain, choreographing assistant, and principal dancer. Asiel has also toured as a principal dancer with Rihanna on her world tour “Anti.” He has years of experience in the entertainment industry. Other choreography credits for Asiel include: so you think you can dance, American Horror Story, Hunger Games movie trailer, and the Hulu's East Los High, where he worked as a consulting producer. Asiel also works as a movement coach and artist development, where he organically brings out the best version movement-wise for the new up-and-coming artists and established artists. Asiel enjoys performing for artists and creative directing/consulting live stage and tv performances. Asiel feels the most important thing about performance is that the audience feels something; it should be an escape for them and all the performers on the stage -- a place where they can experience a magical moment together.

To sign express interest in Artist Development Program, click here.

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