AKA NYC Announces Inaugural Projects For The Black Producer 500 Hours Initiative

The company has announced that applications will now be accepted on a rolling quarterly basis.

Review: CINDERELLA at Geva Theatre

AKA NYC has announced that Producers Blair Russell, Dale A. Mott, and Nolan Williams, Jr. have been chosen as the inaugural recipients of the newly formed Black Producer 500 Hours Initiative. This groundbreaking program donates 500 agency hours of creative, strategic, and marketing work to emerging, independent Black producers to help build the vital tools needed to bring their vision to life. The goal is to help open doors for new, diverse, and necessary storytellers on Broadway stages and in arts and performance spaces across the country.

The company has announced that applications will now be accepted on a rolling quarterly basis. Deadlines for the rest of 2021 are: 3/10/21 for the second quarter, 5/31/21 for the third quarter, and 8/31/21 for the fourth quarter.

For the first quarter of 2021, AKA will work with producer Blair Russell to develop marketing tools for his project Resounding-a new series of live, original audio plays utilizing immersive 3D sound technology, and featuring top Broadway talent.

Blair Russell is a producer, developer, supporter, and lover of theater and live performance whose experience ranges from fringe festivals to Broadway shows. His most recent projects include the Tony-nominated Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris and the critically-acclaimed immersive Off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. As Co-founder and Director of Operations for Resounding, he produces live radio plays in fully immersive binaural audio. He is currently Co-President of the Board of New York Theatre Barn, and Vice Chair of the Board of The New Harmony Project. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a BFA in Technical Theatre/Stage Management.

Producers Dale A. Mott and Nolan Williams, Jr. have also been selected for the first quarter. They are teaming up on the new musical Grace, written by Williams, who is also an award-winning composer, conductor, and cultural curator. Gracecaptures a day in the life of the Mintons, a proud Philadelphia restaurant family with deep African American culinary traditions.

Dale A. Mott is a veteran non-profit executive and entrepreneur whose career has included leadership roles with the Smithsonian, CARE, The Phillips Collection, Arena Stage, and Penumbra Theatre Company. As founder and principal of Edgewood-a fundraising and multimedia and theatrical production company- Dale advances clients, partners, and projects functioning at the intersection of innovation, accessibility, creative expression, and social justice. Along with Grace, Edgewood's stable of bold works includes Williams's Stirring the Water Across America and Devine Hamer Gray; a daring, universal new play by Kennan Scott II, Thoughts of a Colored Man; and, for Broadway, the critically-acclaimed play, The Lifespan of a Fact. Dale serves on several boards, including Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, LA.

Nolan Williams, Jr. is an American composer, music director, artistic producer, and cultural curator who uses his art to advocate, educate and inspire. His body of creative work includes: theatrical productions workshopped and mounted at Actors Theatre, Cleveland Play House, and The Clarice; curatorial festivals produced in partnership with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia's Mann Center, and more; cultural programming developed in collaboration with The Smithsonian, U.S. State Department, and the Embassies of India and South Africa; choral/orchestral works premiered by the Philadelphia, National Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Atlanta Youth Symphony, Philadelphia Youth, and Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestras; numerous choral commissions; songwriting credits on two Grammy-nominated projects; music for television; and, collaborations with an impressive roster of artists, including Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Vanessa Williams, Smokie Robinson, Raul Esparza, Vanessa Williams, and Denyce Graves.

The Black Producer 500 Hours Initiative is part of a larger commitment by AKA NYC to be an anti-racist company and a change leader within the arts, entertainment, and culture industry and the community at large. Following extensive, honest conversations led by the agency's leadership team and existing diversity task force, AKA NYC is also undertaking changes to its talent pipeline and recruitment practices with a goal of better reflecting the diversity of the New York Metro Area. AKA NYC will also lead a high-level audience research study to better understand existing barriers to diversifying audiences. The agency will share its progress with transparency and regularity and also continue to announce additional diversity initiatives.

The Black Producer 500 Hours Initiative is still accepting applications for the second quarter of 2021 through March 10, 2021. Applications are due 5/31/21 for the third quarter, and 8/31/21 for the fourth quarter. Those wishing to participate should visit aka.nyc/black-producer-initiative/ for application information.

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