Colorado Springs artist awarded unrestricted $50,000 fellowship grant to continue his work

COLORADO SPRINGS — February is Black History Month, and News 5 is celebrating by spotlighting people of color making a difference in the community.

Award-winning playwright, poet, and Director of Fine Arts Idris Goodwin is one of 60 fellows to receive an unrestricted $50,000 fellowship grant from the United States Artists. The winners this year were chosen for their bold artistic vision and impact on society.

These awards aim to promote the work of these visionary practitioners to a broader public while allowing them to decide how to best support their lives.

“It’s about a diversity of artists dealing with a diversity of challenges. So maybe it’s rent, maybe it’s buying that studio, maybe it’s going toward that massive project that you’ve been desperately trying to make money for,” said Goodwin.

An anonymous person nominated Goodwin for the grant which is a culmination of hard work and perseverance.

“It’s a huge honor, but it’s also invigorating, recharging, and motivating. I think when you make the conscious choice to commit yourself to the life of the arts, especially in America, that has love/hate relationship with the arts it’s a challenging road,” said Goodwin. “It’s a wonderful gift and affirmation of the last 20 years of my career and my life doing this. It just motivates and fuels me for the next 20.”

Goodwin has scripted more than 11 plays, rapped on half a dozen albums, and written three books of poetry. He’s performed his poetry on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and PBS’ “Sesame Street,” written award-winning plays, and several books of his poetry and essays have been published, including the 2011 Pushcart Prize-nominated “These are the Breaks.”

For him, it’s all about making a cultural impact.

“It’s to tell the story of my people because for a long time we couldn’t so we did it through praise, worship, testimony, legislation, protests, all of that. So that is what fuels me,” said Goodwin.

With the plays, poems, and scripts he writes, Goodwin says he uses them as an opportunity to gather everyone together and sculpt a better tomorrow.

“I started writing about what I could feel in the air. There’s always been, since televisions and the images of Rodney King were broadcast through America,” said Goodwin.

To help young children learn more about race, he’s written a series of plays such as Nothing Rhymes with Juneteeth, Water Gun Song, and Act Free.

“It’s not going to go away because you don’t want to look at it. You’re not preparing them, we need to prepare our kids for the world,” said Goodwin.

He says those discussions are important to have with children because it helps break down barriers. Looking ahead, he may create more content for young people but right now he’s focused on supporting local artists during the pandemic.