Art Works Blog

Grant Spotlight: NCA edition

We asked our National Council of the Arts members to share  some thoughts about projects from our recent round of grants that particularly resonated with them. Here's what David "Mas" Masumoto and Joan Israelite had to say...

 David "Mas" Masumoto

Allison Orr Dance, Inc aka Forklift Danceworks: I'm not a dancer, so this may be outside my comfort zone. But as a farmer, I do work with my hands and body. So "Forklift Danceworks" caught my attention. A dance of people and their big machines? Dance and the world of everyday people? Choreography of the working class? I'm hooked.

I understand the physical nature of work and life. Farming is physical, so is dance. To fuse the everyday work world with art---that's what I believe this project will strive toward. The movements will be slow---I know a forklift pirouette can't be too fast, otherwise you might tilt and roll (not the best idea). The pace may be different---I've never swung a 35-foot utility pole and used a bucket truck.

But it's about movement, no? Everyday movement. That's placing dance and art in the real world where it belongs.

City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Art+Industry Pittsfield: Art joins the locavore movement. Dedication to eating art that's grown and produced locally. I like that, elevating a regional cuisine and flavor to the arts. So to combine art and local history with industry---we will peek into the creative minds that transformed a nation. I look forward to seeing the early art of electricity---that mysterious and magical power---that led to the creation of General Electric who once had ties with Pittsfield. Creative minds and creative energy. How art works.

California State University Stanislaus: There's a small California state college tucked in the rural farm lands of the San Joaquin Valley. It's not the place I would have thought arts research would be conducted, especially one using data and geospatial mapping to examine art participation.

But why not? Art is alive in rural America. It may be practiced and performed in a different manner---with amazing results. The where and how of art is expanding and evolving---and growing.

So let's start with the question "who"---and see what happens. Who knows, perhaps a sleepy little corner of a farming valley can tell us much about the future of the arts.

Joan Israelite

As a Council member, I have had the privilege of learning about the wide variety of creative, diverse, and excellent arts programs across the nation. It gives me great pride to see how small investments of money from the National Endowment for the Arts can be the catalyst for such rich programming serving so many. A few examples of such projects include:

The 10th anniversary of the Children’s Festival of Reading in Knox County, Tennessee. This festival will bring authors of children’s literature, illustrators, storytellers, and musicians to an area that would normally not have access to this kind of programming. It will serve approximately 13,000 children and families and will be a great catalyst to inspire reading in a time when we know that reading is declining.

The Storyville Center for the Spoken Word (aka The Moth), to support production of The Moth Radio Hour---featuring first-person stories from writers, actors, and performers---which is distributed by the Public Radio Exchange across the country. Fifteen episodes that included video and podcast the previous year generated 1.7 million views and 15 million downloads. What a great tool to inspire current and future artists and creative thinking.

The Magical Experiences Arts Company in Baltimore supports interactive performances for youth with severe disabilities with special emphasis on engaging youth with autism. With the staggering increase of autism, finding new ways of dealing with this challenging condition can be life changing. Kudos to those innovative folks doing this groundbreaking work!

Visit our News Room to learn about all 817 projects that received NEA grants in our most recent round of funding.

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