ST. CLOUD -- The Paramount Center for the Arts will be featuring a series of concerts that highlight Muslim cultures.

The Paramount Center for the Arts in association with St. Cloud State University, the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis with Augsburg College and Mankato Department of Music Performance Series at Minnesota State University, Mankato received a $500,000 grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP).

Through the grant the Paramount Center for the Arts will be able to host five musical performances. Each performance will focus on expanding awareness of Muslim arts.

Director of education and outreach for the Paramount Center for the Arts, Jane Oxton says this grant opens doors to help educate the community on different cultures through the use of art.

"This grant allows us to present world known music performers from all over the world that we couldn't do on our own and to expose the community to a broadened scope of culture and music."

The first performance on November 4 will be featuring Wayyaha Cusub, a Somali hip-hop group founded in Kenya. Rapper Shiine Akhyaar Ali is the main lyricist. The group is well known for its activism and artistry, it speaks out against violence, war and oppressive leadership.

Oxton says before each performance musicians will be able to spend a week in residency in the St. Cloud area.

"They come and they spend a week prior to the performance doing residencies in our community so we have a chance to really provide windows and mirrors for people and for all of our community."

St. Cloud State University has also partnered with the Paramount. Oxton says some of the grant funding is designed to engage the St. Cloud State campus with Muslim arts and culture. SCSU students will be able to attend al fivel performances for free with a student ID.

The grant program is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The grant will be used to expand the program, Midnimo (Somali word for unity) which started through the Cedar Cultural Center and Augsburg College in 2014.

Jane Oxton provides details on grant. (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)