MY ART STORY by

Joanna Kentolall

Fort Lauderdale
Florida

Go Riverwalk Magazine Article Title.JPG

Magazine headline.

Go Riverwalk magazine headline. Photo courtesy of the Knight Foundation

Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.

Attributed to the Dalai Lama, this quote rings true for me. It’s not likely you were expecting to see a submission from someone not chosen to work on an NEA-funded project, but the truth is it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Broward Cultural Division was chosen as a recipient of NEA Art Works funding to support an arts journalism initiative. As part of the funding, there was an opportunity for freelance writers to cover arts-related events in south Florida. When I learned about this, I was thrilled that it could cast me in a role to contribute to the arts community in a venue that seems tailored made for me. With years of journalism experience and a love of the arts, how could I fail? And so I submitted a carefully crafted application.

I thought it was a perfect fit—but it was not to be. I wasn’t chosen. I was disappointed, but the process of writing the application helped to reignite a spark in me that started in my youth. My love of the arts never really subsided over the years; other life priorities had simply taken center stage. The process of applying for the grant forced me to realize that I’ve continued to nourish my love of the arts, all while gaining other important skills.

Now I can work as a freelance writer to infuse new life into my current career and expand beyond my role to one that is more inclusive of the arts. I’m even feeling that familiar camaraderie that's shared among people who create and appreciate the arts—and being around that troupe of kindred spirits feels like home to me.

I’m excited about what the future holds and thankful that the NEA brought it back to light.

Not being chosen as a freelance writer through NEA led me to reach out to other publications. Thanks to that effort, I’ve just published an article with the Fort Lauderdale-based feature magazine Go Riverwalk—and about funding the arts no less!

So it’s true, sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck that puts you on the path you were really meant to be on. I hope this serves as inspiration to anyone who doesn’t receive that one opportunity that seems to be the perfect fit. That rejection may just be the push you need to capture the momentum of your future!