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National Endowment for the Arts Awards Funding to Five Louisville Arts Companies

David Toczko

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded its first round of grants for the next fiscal year, and twelve Kentucky projects received more than $200,000 in arts funding. Five Louisville organizations are receiving grant support for developing and producing new artistic work, the highest single-city concentration of funding in the state. Actors Theatre of Louisville has been awarded $40,000 for the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, and the literary press Sarabande Books will receive $20,000 in funding to support the publication of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. The Asia Institute (Crane House) will use its Challenge America Grant ($10,000) to produce an exhibit and other activities related to ceramic artists of Asian heritage, and the Kentucky Opera will receive support ($12,500) for a composer workshop and series of lectures featuring Daron Hagen's  new opera "A Woman in Morocco," about challenges facing women in the Middle East The NEA awarded the Louisville Ballet a $15,000 Art Works grant to fund choreographer Val Caniparoli’s new work, “Spaghetti Western,” which will premiere in the company’s mixed repertory program "Complementary Voices" in April. It's part of the company’s repertory enhancement project."Bruce [Simpson] has a very specific goal to continue to bring in new works to the company," says Ballet spokeswoman Cara Hicks. “Through that we’ve been able to bring in works by Twyla Tharp, Balanchine, and Anthony Tudor, just to name a few. This grant definitely supports those efforts.”The same type of NEA grant helped fund last season's "Lady of the Camellias," also a Caniparoli commission for the Louisville Ballet, which is now part of the company's repertoire. But these new works aren't just for Louisville. After they open locally, the ballets can be licensed to other dance companies. “We’ll premiere ["Spaghetti Western"] here in April, and when it’s done again it’s attributed back to the Louisville Ballet as having its world premiere and being created for and by the Louisville Ballet Company, and that carries with it a lot of weight in companies across the country,” says Hicks. Roughly 50 percent of the Ballet's $3.2 million annual budget is contributed income, and Hicks says about three percent of that contributed income is from government sources like the NEA. NEA requires organizations provide matching non-government funds. Nationwide, the agency awarded more than $25 million in grants to arts organizations and individuals for fiscal year 2014. Here are the rest of the Kentucky awards (full descriptions available here):

  • Lexington Philharmonic Society, $16,500, to support a commission and composer residency.
  • City of Berea, $10,000, to support the Berea Public Art Tour.
  • Western Kentucky University Research Foundation, Bowling Green, $10,000 to support a traveling exhibit, "Weaving Community: The White Oak Basket Makers of Central Kentucky."
  • Downtown Frankfort, $10,000, in support of the Frankfort Public Art Tour.
  • Hazard Community and Technical College, $10,000, to support the Osborne Brothers Hometown Festival, a bluegrass and folk music festival intended to serve residents of the Kentucky River Area District.
  • Appalshop, $20,000, to support Traditional Arts in a Coalfield Community at WMMT-FM. Students and adults in Letcher County will receive low- or no-cost instruction in traditional Appalachian music, as well as performance opportunities.
  • Morehead State University, $30,000, to support a traveling exhibition and catalog, "Chester Cornett: Beyond the Narrow Sky."