NEA Grant Supports Touchstone Theatre's CIRQUE IT! Festival

NEA Grant Supports Touchstone Theatre's CIRQUE IT! Festival

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA's second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017.

Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $10,000 to ArtsQuest, Touchstone Theatre and Zoellner Arts Center, for the Cirque It! Festival on July 14-16, 2017. The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

"The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America's artists and arts organizations," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as ArtsQuest, Touchstone Theatre and Zoellner Arts Center, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences."

"CIRQUE IT! is a way to celebrate our community and to have fun through circus arts," says Deborah Sacarakis, artistic director of Zoellner Arts Center. "The festival gives three long-standing arts organizations the opportunity to join forces in exciting and innovative ways."

CIRQUE IT! is a new three day festival showcasing the many faces of the circus arts involving internationally touring artists, visionaries and local artists on July 14-16, 2017. Centered on Bethlehem's SouthSide and produced by ArtsQuest, Touchstone Theatre and Zoellner Arts Center, the free and low-cost shows will include imaginative events that give life to the spirit of circus exploration for all ages and also performances that push movement and theater to new and exciting extremes.

For a full listing of activities go to www.ZoellnerArtsCenter.org, www.artsquest.org and www.touchstone.org.

On Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15 at 6:30 PM, Jakopa's Punch Processional, Touchstone's next community offering, premieres outdoors on the South Bethlehem Greenway. It features original music created and performed by the Jakopa's Punch Band on instruments as varied as a theremin, accordion, bassoon, and more. The one-act musical journey finds audience members traveling alongside the action on the South Bethlehem Greenway as they meet puppets created by Yodi Vaden; an aerialist, Christine Gorigoitia; and a variety of other larger-than-life characters. This free show promises to be part three-ring circus, part rock concert, and part puppet spectacular.

"Nothing brings a community together quite like the act of gathering in the streets to experience something joyful," says Touchstone's artistic director Jp Jordan. "By the end of Jakopa's Punch Processional, we hope people are singing and dancing in the streets."

On July 14, 8 PM and July 15, 8 PM, in the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks' Musikfest Café, the Lehigh Valley's own Atlas Circus Company will present the family-friendly Lucky, the troupe's homage and modern take on the art of "The Gag." Through acrobatic slapstick, clowning and circus arts, the audience will experience a glimpse into the life of a man who can't stop falling on his face.

Founded in 2015, Atlas Circus is focused on reinventing American circus by creating a new kind of narrative circus performance that can inspire and captivate audiences with stories of the human experience told with circus arts, contemporary music and everyday images. The company has performed throughout the region, including Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College, Sands Resort and at Dixon Place Theater in New York City. The New York Post has called its show "the new Ringling Brothers Circus." Tickets for the performance are $10.

"CIRQUE-IT is designed to highlight the innovative ways the circus arts have evolved over time," says ArtsQuest Chief Programming Officer Patrick Brogan. "The Atlas Circus show has especially strong ties to our area, starting with founders Noah Dach and Henry Evans, who formed the company while they were attending Muhlenberg College. We are thrilled to partner with Touchstone Theatre and Zoellner Arts Center, two of the region's most creative arts presenters, to present a festival that's not only focused on the performing arts, but is also geared toward drawing people to SouthSide Bethlehem and our arts district as well."

On Saturday July 15 and Sunday the 16 at 4 PM, AcroBuffos, an internationally touring duo, will bring Air Play to Zoellner Arts Center. The cheeky clowns journey through a surreal land of air, transforming the ordinary into objects of uncommon beauty. Fabrics dance in the wind, balloons have a mind of their own, confetti turns into the night sky, and an enormous canopy of hovering silk forever alters their future. Tickets for the performance are $20 adults/$10 students and kids under 12.

Tickets for CIRQUE IT! performances can be purchased at the participating venues. For Acrobuffos tickets, call 610-758-2787 (7LU-ARTS), visit Zoellner Ticket Services Tues. 12-6pm, Wed.- Fri. 12-5pm, or Sat. 11am-1pm, and 90 minutes before curtain ticketed events or www.zoellnerartscenter.org. For Atlas Circus tickets call 610-332-3378 or visit www.steelstacks.org. For more info on Jakopa's Punch Processional visit www.touchstone.org or call Touchstone Theatre at 610-867-1689.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, use #NEASpring17. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov.


Friday, July 14:

6:30 - 7:30PM Touchstone Theatre's "Jakopa's Punch Processional" on the Bethlehem Greenway

8:00 - 9:00PM "Lucky" by Atlas Circus at Musikfest Café

Saturday, July 15:

11:00AM - Noon P's & Q's and circus workshop at Artsquest

2:00 - 3:00PM Short Cirque It! at the Performing Arts High School

4:00 - 5:00PM "Air Play" by Acrobuffos at Zoellner Arts Center

6:30 - 7:30PM Touchstone Theatre's "Jakopa's Punch Processional" on the Bethlehem Greenway

8:00 - 9:00PM "Lucky" by Atlas Circus at Musikfest Café

Sunday, July 16:

Noon - 1:00PM Short Cirque It! at the Performing Arts High School

4:00 - 5:00PM "Air Play" by Acrobuffos at Zoellner Arts Center

7:30 - 9:30PM Levitt Pavilion Show at Steelstacks

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