Tunde Olaniran and Complex Movements each get $50,000 grant from Chicago-based nonprofit

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
Flint-based musician and performer Tunde Olaniran was given a $50,000 grant from United Starts Artists.

A Flint-based musician and a performance collective from Detroit are two of 45 recipients of unrestricted $50,000 grants from United States Artists. 

Announced Tuesday, Tunde Olaniran and Complex Movements will be gifted with the unrestricted fellowship, which is given to artists and collectives in a variety categories. The Chicago-based fundraising organization has allocated more than $25 million to 500-plus recipients — including filmmaker Barry Jenkins, musician Wayne Shorter and cartoonist Chris Ware — since founding in 2006

Olaniran said he’ll use this grant to propel his upcoming tour in support of his newest album “Stranger,” which he released in October. 

“I’m announcing some national tour dates and hopefully creating some visual content around that album,” he said, adding that he's looking into adding video, physical installation art, sculpture art and dance performances. 

“The really great thing about this fellowship is that so many artists, even in places like Flint, if you get any kind of grant funding it’s project-based, it’s very short term it doesn’t give you the space to think about who you are as an artist and develop your voice as an artist," he said. "So this relieves some pressure from me to take time and really say ‘what do I want to create, what do I want to say’ and not feel like I have to rush that or there’s nothing urgent that I have to deliver.” 

Earlier this week Olaniran met up with his fellow fellows Complex Movements at an event at University of Michigan-Flint. The artist collective have earned a list of similar grants and awards from foundations like Kresge, Knight Arts, ArtPrize and ArtMatters. They'll meet again at a gathering in March for all recipients of the United States Artists grants. 

"It's so great to sit with them and get advice ... it's great for artists to share their experiences and mentor each other," he said, adding that one of the valuable pieces of advice they had for him is to stay on top of taxes, which can be perplexing for anyone, let alone artists who are not traditionally paid the same ways as those in other occupations. 

Olaniran said he'll have a Detroit concert soon to celebrate the release of "Stranger" (a November party was booked and promoted, but canceled due to issues with the promoter). He will headline the WYCE-FM's Jammies event Feb. 8 at the Intersection in Grand Rapids. 

Detroit-based artist collective Complex Movements are the recipients of a $50,000 grant from United States Artists.


Twitter: @melodybaetens