Friday, December 11, 2009

Arts News: Proposals Requested for NEA's 2010-2011 Shakespeare in American Communities

The National Endowment for the Humanities has since 2003 supported Shakespeare in American Communities, the largest Federal program in support of theatre since the Federal Theatre Project of the 1930s Work Projects Administration. According to NEA's 8-page glossy brochure, the NEA Shakespeare project has to date involved 77 theatre groups in 39 states and in the District of Columbia.

At its Shakespeare project website, the NEA has just posted:

Theatre companies apply for matching grants of $10,000 to $25,000 to support Shakespeare productions that tour to schools. The NEA has prepared teachers' tool kits and material for students for the most frequently produced plays. For the current theatre season NEA programs support 37 theatre companies.

To be eligible, a company must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and "a professional U.S.-based theater company," and it must have at least three years of three years’ experience working with schools or school districts to provide performances of Shakespeare or classically-based repertoire for middle- and/or high-school students.

Texas participants have been the Shakespeare Festival in Dallas, doing Twelfth Night in 2006-2007, the Dallas Theatre Center in 2007-2008 for The Taming of the Shrew that same season and in 2009-2010 for A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Main Street Theatre in Houston for each of the last three seasons, staging The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The NEA brochure lists Austin as one of the 31 Texas cities served by the program, an indication that one or several of the Texas productions traveled for a staging at an Austin area school.

Grant applications are due by January 20, since the annual announcement of recipient companies is made each year on April 23, Shakespeare's birthday. The grants administrator is ArtsMidwest, which handles the program for the entire nation.

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