Big Bucks to Boise: ATW’s National Theater Company Grants Announced

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Courtesy of the fine publicity team at O&M Co. comes news of a potential earthquake in theater philanthropy.

Indeed, as one the quoted quotables in the press release down below acknowledges, the announcement here is bold: we will be curious to know, in the weeks and months ahead, if the organizations formerly funded by the American Theatre Wing not only seem to be cognizant of the rationale behind the change but are able to compensate for any fiscal shortfalls that may occur.

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Assuming such organizations can do so, it will validate the Wing’s flight to a national funding model — and perhaps encourage more philanthropic organs to do the same.

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That said, while the Wing has made its rationale, to my mind, quite clear, it’s worrisome, too, because funding remains so meager and the sense of desperation through the community remains so palpable. Far too many mouths to feed.

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What the shift in the Wing’s funding also tells us is that times are getting leaner by the day. Making do with less — and accepting such a situation as the new-normal, the status quo — is proving to be the mantra of the 21st century.

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So now, with all that nasty melancholia out there writhing on the table, let’s offer congratulations to the 10 recipients: 1812 Productions (Philadelphia, PA), About Face Theatre (Chicago, IL), Boise Contemporary Theater (Boise, ID), Company One (Boston, MA), Curious Theatre Company (Denver, CO), The Flea Theater, Inc. (New York, NY), Profile Theatre (Portland, OR), Silk Road Theatre Project (Chicago, IL), Synetic Theater (Arlington, VA), and Triad Stage (Greensboro, NC).

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And now, the press release (excerpted):

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American Theatre Wing announces
First Theaters Receiving
New National Theater Company Grants

Theaters to be Honored at
Oct. 25 Luncheon in New York City

The American Theatre Wing has announced the 10 recipients of its 2010 National Theatre Company Grants, who are the first group of theatres receiving ATW support following its revision of its long-standing theatre company grants program. …The companies will be celebrated at a private luncheon at the Intercontinental Hotel Times Square on Mon., Oct. 25.

Grants for the 2010 cycle in the amount of $10,000 each will be distributed for general operating support to these companies which, according to grant guidelines, have been in operation at least five, but not more than 15 years, have articulated a distinctive mission, cultivated an audience, and nurtured a community of artists in ways that strengthen and demonstrate the quality, diversity, and dynamism of American theatre.

Grants Committee Chair Lucie Arnaz commented, “In a bold departure from our past grants giving program, the Wing decided to use our limited resources to bring national attention and acknowledgment to what we feel are some of the most inspiring and innovative theatre companies on our national landscape. Fewer grants for more money on a wider scale. It’s a very exciting concept.”

…The American Theatre Wing has long shown its dedication to not-for-profit theatres through its Theatre Company Grants Program. After many years during which eligibility was restricted to New York City companies, this year marks a significant change in the 53-year granting history of The Wing, resulting from extensive review by the organization’s Board of Trustees. The ATW Grants have distributed some $3 million dollars over the past 53 years. For more information on the ATW’s National Theatre Company Grants, visit: americantheatrewing.org/grants/. The application period for 2011 grants will open in the spring of next year.

“These grants are an affirmation of the fine work of these growing companies,” said Howard Sherman, Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing, “and, we hope, may have the added benefit of drawing more attention to them — from artists, from the press, and from other funders.”

…For more information about all of the American Theatre Wing programs, go to americantheatrewing.org. ATW can be followed on Facebook.com/TheAmericanTheatreWing and Twitter.com/TheWing and additional, unique video can be found at YouTube.com/AmericanTheatreWing .

1812 Productions (Jennifer Childs, Artistic Director; Kate Tejada, Managing Director) is dedicated to entertaining, educating and exploring a variety of issues through the medium of comedy. It is committed to supporting and hiring local theatre professionals, and to making its productions accessible to the diverse general public with particular focus on the greater Philadelphia region.

About Face Theatre (Bonnie Metzgar, Artistic Director; Aurelia Fisher, Managing Director) was founded to create exceptional, innovative and adventurous plays to advance the national dialogue on gender and sexual identity and to challenge and entertain audiences in Chicago, across the nation, and around the world. About Face is committed to innovation, artistic excellence and community transformation, and sustains its core values through three programming arms: its award-winning main stage season; its ambitious new works program; and its nationally recognized education programs.

Boise Contemporary Theater (Matthew Clark, Artistic Director; Helene Peterson, Managing Director) was founded in 1997, and creates, produces, and presents vibrant and dynamic professional theater that illuminates enduring themes while exploring contemporary issues and ideas.

Company One (Shawn LaCount, Artistic Director; Sarah Shampnois, Managing Director), Theatre in Residence at the Boston Center for the Arts, redefines the typical theatrical experience by developing, producing, and promoting socially relevant plays and innovative educational programming that appeal to, represent and include Boston’s diverse urban communities. Since its inception in 1999, Company One has been instrumental in bringing socially and politically relevant theatre to the Boston area.

Curious Theatre Company‘s (Chip Walton, Artistic Director; Sarah Benvenuti, Managing Director) mission is to engage the community in important contemporary issues through provocative modern theatre. As one of only two full-time professional theatres in Denver County, one of Curious’ organizational goals is to develop a middle tier of professional theatre in Denver through the compensation of artists for their work, including local union and non-union actors.

The Flea Theater, Inc. (Jim Simpson, Artistic Director; Carol Ostrow, Managing Director) seeks to raise the standards of Off-Off-Broadway for artists and audiences alike, proving that the spontaneity and surprise of downtown performance need not come at the cost of consistent and high-quality programming. Since 1996, The Flea has committed itself to the creation of artistic opportunity and the establishment of safe and welcoming conditions on both sides of the footlights. This has allowed The Flea to premiere hundreds of new works, discover dozens of new voices, and garner important accolades and awards.

Profile Theatre‘s (Jane Unger, Artistic Director; Matthew Jones, Managing Director) mission is to celebrate the playwright’s contribution to live theatre. Each year, Profile produces a season of plays devoted to a single playwright, allowing the audience to explore, in-depth, the playwright’s full range of vision, talent, and artistry. Profile is one of only two companies in the country to focus on a single playwright each year

Silk Road Theatre Project (Jamil Khoury, Artistic Director; Malik Gillani, Managing Director) showcases playwrights of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean backgrounds, whose works address themes relevant to the peoples of the Silk Road and their Diaspora communities. Through the mediums of theatre, video, education, and advocacy, they aim to deepen and expand representation in American culture

Synetic Theater, Inc. (Paata Tsikurishvili, Artistic Director; Salma Qarnain, Managing Director) is based in Arlington County and is the DC metro-area’s premier physical theater company — fusing drama, mime, movement, and dance — with a mission of enriching and advancing theater arts in the nation’s capital, as well as building a national presence.

Triad Stage (Preston Lane, Artistic Director; Richard Whittington, Managing Director) is guided by core values of artistic risk, excellence, community, learning, inclusion, collaboration, rejuvenation, partnerships, impacting North Carolina and fostering a unique Southern voice. Triad Stage seeks to strengthen community, provoke dialogue and delight audiences. Triad Stage strives to envision a new American theater rooted in its community while engaged with the world.