By Bernie Petit
Three Charlotte cultural organizations have been awarded Art Works grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in its first round of grants for 2014.
McColl Center for Visual Art, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Opera Carolina will receive the coveted Art Works grants, which support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancing the livability of communities through the arts.
- McColl Center will receive $20,000 to support the Artist-in-Residence and Affiliate Artist programs. Artists will be placed in community settings such as schools, hospitals, and local parks as part of the McColl Center’s outreach efforts. Additionally, they will receive an honorarium, a private apartment, a spacious private studio, and unlimited access to a wood shop, sculpture studio, ceramic facility, printmaking studio, and media lab.
- North Carolina Dance Theatre will receive $10,000 to support the creation and presentation of new ballets as part of the Innovative Works repertory series. The series will utilize community partnerships and collaboration with local artists to focus on themes of diversity. Associate Artistic Director Sasha Janes, choreographer Mark Diamond, resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden, Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and guest artist David Ingram each will create a new work for the company. Educational and outreach programming will include presenting excerpts of the new works in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, as well as lecture demonstrations that tie dance to core curriculum subjects.
- Opera Carolina will receive $12,500 to support a new production of “Rise For Freedom,” a one-act opera by composer Adolphus Hailstork and librettist David Gonzalez. The work will be presented as part of the Ulysses Festival of the Arts in Charlotte, the theme of which is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Through this production, the company will go beyond the confines of producing and will engage the public in a significant conversation of the power of art to provide a safe and welcoming place to discuss community. Commissioned in 2006, the opera follows the true life story of John Parker in 1860s Ripley, Ohio, who was the son of a white father and a black mother, learned a trade, bought his freedom, owned and operated an iron foundry, fought against slavery as a leader in the Underground Railroad, and is credited with freeing hundreds of slaves through crossings from Northern Kentucky into Ohio. Director Tim Parotti, lighting designer Michael Baumgarten, costume designer Betsy Blackmore will create the production.
The combined $42,500 received by the Charlotte groups is a portion of the $25.8 million given nationally by NEA for 2014. Nationally, 1,083 grants were announced this week in this round of NEA grants.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States,” said NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa. “Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable experiences for the public to engage with the arts.”