National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced last week that three Long Beach organizations are among 788 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations nationwide to receive NEA Art Works grants.
Musical Theatre West, Khmer Arts Academy and the Arts Council for Long Beach are recommended for funding each of their outstanding arts programs. The 788 Art Works grants total $24.81 million and 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 the strengthening of communities through the arts.
Launched in 2010, Musical Theatre West’s Reiner Reading Series seeks to preserve and promote American musical theatre by presenting semi-staged concert readings of classic and contemporary musicals that might not otherwise receive a mainstage production. These readings include lesser-known works by well-known composers, shows that may have had notoriety during their original run and have since fallen into obscurity, newer works by emerging composers, smaller “chamber-style” works that might not translate well onto the larger Musical Theatre West mainstage, and other pieces from across the musical spectrum.
These readings include professional actors and musicians performing the entire script and score (save some instrumental and dance sections), scripts in hand, and utilizing minimal props, costumes and staging. Under Actor’s Equity guidelines, only 29 hours may be used to rehearse and perform each reading. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be recognized by the NEA with this grant for the Reiner Reading Series,” said Michael Betts, producer of the program. “To be able to keep the musical theater canon alive by preserving some of its lesser known or not often produced titles is a thrill, and we’re so happy our audiences and the NEA have agreed about the importance of this work. In addition, we get to keep the memory of one of our principal donors, Ken Reiner, alive by continuing our series. Aside from his wife, Dottie, there was no bigger aficionado of musical theatre, and this series has been blessed by their support and love.”
Khmer Arts, an organization dedicated to fostering the vitality of Cambodian classical dance across borders, received funding to support its Academy program, which provides year-round after-school and weekend training in classical dance at its Long Beach Cambodia Town studio and performances throughout the region at community celebrations, educational institutions and mainstream venues. The Academy also produces a series of artist salons throughout California that are meant to help audience members decipher the highly stylized classical dance vocabulary
“Since its inception ten years ago,” said co-founder and artistic director Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, “Khmer arts has played a pivotal role in developing and elevating the way classical dance is taught, performed, presented and understood inside and outside of the community.”
Arts Council for Long Beach ’s Eye on Design is a public art education program for third graders that encourages civic involvement, critical thinking and creative problem-solving through a customized residency program. The program educates students about their community to foster a greater appreciation for art in the public sphere. Eye on Design’s interdisciplinary approach incorporates language arts, history/social science and the visual and performing arts.
During the 15-week residency, students learn about neighborhood history, public art and the design process through enrichment activities, field trips and learning opportunities provided by resident artists and community partners. The culminating project is the creation of mosaic public artwork. The program has served hundreds of students at various elementary schools throughout Long Beach and employed dozens of local Long Beach teaching artists to facilitate the classes. “We’re excited to receive this grant award from the NEA for our acclaimed Eye on Design arts education program,” said John Glaza, interim executive director of the Arts Council for Long Beach. “It’s an honor to be in the company of two other Long Beach institutions who will also receive grant awards from the NEA: Khmer Arts Academy and Musical Theatre West.”
Chairman Landesman said the arts should be a part of everyday life. “Whether it’s seeing a performance, visiting a gallery, participating in an art class, or simply taking a walk around a neighborhood enhanced by public art, these grants are ensuring that across the nation, the public is able to experience how art works,” he said.
The NEA received 1,624 eligible applications under the Art Works category for this round of funding, requesting more than $78 million in funding. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, visit the NEA website at arts.gov .
Source: LB Convention and Visitors Bureau