Minnesota ranks sixth nationally in a new round of arts grants.
The National Endowment for the Arts announced Tuesday about $30 million in awards to writers, theaters and other arts groups. Of that, Minnesota nabbed $1.3 million, putting it sixth in the country and well above neighboring states.
“We have built up this amazing creative community through years and years of nurturing and investment,” said David Fraher, president and CEO of Arts Midwest. “When you push that out into competition at a national level for funding, we do well.”
The state’s total also represents a big boost from this time last year, when Minnesota organizations got a total of $975,000 in NEA grants.
The state’s 47 awards will go to a variety of projects and a few people — from a play performed on a baseball field to a young Minneapolis poet. Minnesota publishers made out well: Coffee House Press and Graywolf Press each got $80,000 to print and promote new works, while Milkweed Editions won $25,000.
Arts Midwest, a regional organization that often partners with the NEA, nabbed the state’s biggest single award: $100,000 to bring Chinese performing arts groups to the U.S. The nonprofit will re-grant much of that money to organizations across the country who want to book ensembles for stays that include performances and school visits.
“We’re going to be looking for work that’s off the expected,” Fraher said. A modern dance company, perhaps, rather than an acrobat troupe.
Minnesota, home to a high number of nonprofits, has historically done well at earning funding from the NEA, an independent federal agency. In these grants, the first round in fiscal year 2017, New York took the top spot, with $8 million in awards. California, Massachusetts, Texas and Illinois were next. Minnesota beat its neighbors, including Wisconsin, which nabbed 10 grants totaling $190,000.
New data from the NEA show that arts participation in the state hits above the national average.
About 41 percent of Minnesotans surveyed said they had gone to a performing arts event, such as the theater, at least once in a yearlong period, compared with 32 percent nationally, according to a survey released in August. About 57 percent of Minnesotans said they, personally, created art — a broad category that includes playing a musical instrument and acting. That compares with 45 percent nationally.
“On the national level, yes, the trends have been getting smaller in terms of the share of adults attending live performing arts,” said Sunil Iyengar, the NEA’s research director. “But for Minnesota, it’s again above the average. So you see a fairly positive trend.”
The national agency has also found a “strong correlation” between the number of applications and the number of awards made, Iyengar said. Minnesota is good at applying: During 2016, 167 people and organizations from the state applied for NEA grants. In turn, 73 won them.
Here are just a few of the Minnesota winners from this latest round:
Arts Midwest: $100,000
To support the implementation of a program to present performing artists from China in communities across the United States. The program's goals are to broaden understanding of and appreciation for diverse Chinese cultures and artists among U.S. audience members and participating communities, as well as to expand collaborations between the two countries' performing arts professionals.
Artspace Projects, Inc.: $30,000
To support Art Bridge. The program uses multimedia technology to facilitate artistic collaboration, arts education, and public performance. In this pilot program, the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Juneau and the Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York City will create a single artistic product through the use of multimedia technology. \
Cedar Cultural Center, Inc,: $80,000
To support Midnimo, a series of artist-led activities to support community health and health equity in partnership with People's Center Health Services. Minneapolis is home to a large Somali community, many of whom were displaced during the Somali civil war. Through Midnimo, which means "unity" in Somali, the Cedar Cultural Center will work with Somali musicians from Minnesota and around the world to present live performances.
Children's Theater Company and School: $75,000
To support development and production of new works for young audiences examining the regional culture and history of the state of Minnesota.
Coffee House Press: $80,000
To support the print and electronic publication and promotion of new books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by debut and established authors.
Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul: $30,000
To support the Cine Global program at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding, the festival's Cine Global program will present contemporary films from around the world, with a focus on audiences of local immigrant communities.
Graywolf Press: $80,000
To support the publication and promotion of books of fiction. The press plans to publish books by authors Percival Everett, John Haskell, Daisy Johnson, Paul Kingsnorth, J. Robert Lennon, Fiona Maazel, Carmen Maria Machado, Jon Raymond, and Deb Olin Unferth, as well as books in translation by Han Yujoo (South Korea) and Carl Frode Tiller (Norway).
Guthrie Theatre Foundation: $45,000
To support the further development and premiere of "Refugia." This work will highlight the worldwide refugee crisis and will draw attention to the displacement of peoples, now and throughout time. The Moving Company, a devised theater ensemble in Minneapolis, will be in residence at the Guthrie Theater to refine and mount a fully realized mainstage production of the work. They will workshop themes surrounding immigration, borders, and exile with theater students at the University of Texas, Austin.
Minnesota Opera: $70,000
To support the world premiere of "Dinner at Eight" by composer William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell. Based on the 1930s play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, the opera is set in Manhattan during the Great Depression and centers on the tension between a husband coping with financial problems and his wife who is planning an elaborate dinner party for visiting British nobility.
Minnesota Orchestral Association: $40,000
To support Minnesota Orchestra's annual professional development project for composers. The Composer Institute will be directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts and will be co-presented with the American Composers Forum.
Mixed Blood Theatre Company: $40,000
To support the premiere of "Safe at Home" by Gabe Greene and Alex Levy. Baseball is used as a vehicle in the play to examine and reveal U.S. immigration policies and Major League Baseball's exploitation of Dominican players. The site-specific production will take place at CHS Field, the new minor league stadium and home of the St. Paul Saints, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Playwrights' Center, Inc.: $30,000
To support playwright-driven new play development activities and partnerships with producing theaters. Local and national playwrights will collaborate with teams of artists in new play development workshops and participate in public and private readings throughout the year.
Ragamala Dance: $30,000
To support bringing an ensemble of master musicians from India to accompany a national tour of RagamalaDance Company's "They Rose at Dawn." In "They Rose at Dawn," choreographer/soloist Aparna Ramaswamy depicts women as carriers of ritual and culture across generations, and arbiters of humanity's relationship to the divine.
To support the annual WITNESS project, a celebration of contributions by African Americans. Titled WITNESS: Underground Railroad, the performance and educational engagement project will celebrate the historic secret network of antislavery activists who helped more than 100,000 African-American slaves escape to freedom and will explore Minnesota's role as a sanctuary for the oppressed.
American Composers Forum: $20,000
To support a commission and composer residency with middle school students for the BandQuest series of educational compositions. Composer Michael Gandolfi will develop the new work while in residence at the Roland Hayes School of Music in Roxbury Crossing, Massachusetts, where it will be premiered by the school band and then later recorded by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
Circus Juventas: $20,000
To support a performing arts series and related activities. Norse Mythological Tales will immerse Circus Juventas-trained performers in the culture, music, costuming, and traditions of medieval Scandinavia.
Penumbra Theatre Company: $20,000
To support the world premiere production of "GIRL Shakes Loose Her Skin," a new musical by Imani Uzuri andZakiyyah Alexander. Rooted in the history of the Black Arts Movement, the musical draws upon the work of Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez to connect past and present experiences of women of color.
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: $40,000
To support a festival celebrating the music of Nordic roots. The project, titled Nordic Journeys, will focus on the themes of immigration and cultural identity and will feature musicians such as Artistic Partners Pekka Kuusistoand Martin Frost, Iranian-Swedish artist Laleh, a group of artists from Iceland's Bedroom Community, and Mariam Wallentin (a Swedish vocalist with Middle Eastern roots), as well as composer and performer GabrielKahane and conductor Eric Jacobsen.
Franconia Sculpture Park: $20,000
To support the Artist Residency and Exhibition Program. Artists will be awarded fully funded residencies supporting the creation of large-scale, three-dimensional artwork to be exhibited for at least 12 months at the sculpture park.
Minnesota Museum of American Art: $25,000
To support an exhibition featuring the work of Ken Gonzales-Day. The exhibition will include works by Gonzales-Day (b. 1964), including his own photographs, digitally altered archival photographs, billboard images, and video.