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Houston Theatre Brave Little Company Receives 2nd NEA Grant For Interactive Series

Interactive series for young adults tackles gender, historical erasure, and misinformation.

Brave Little Company has announced that the collaborative project Missing from the Museum has again been awarded a Grants for Arts Projects award of $20,000 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This grant is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling nearly $28.8 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.

This is the second such grant for the Missing from the Museum multi-state partnership, which includes Dare to Dream Theatre (Wisconsin), Off the Page (Brooklyn, NY), and Trike Theatre (Arkansas). Missing from the Museum is an interactive art history adventure series for young people and their families. Season 3 will premiere in Fall 2023. More information can be found at www.MissingFromTheMuseum.org.

"The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide," said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. "Projects such as this one with Off the Page and its nationwide partners strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy."

Missing from the Museum engages young viewers and their families in a thrilling, time-traveling art heist to encounter interpretations of women artists throughout history and around the world. The audience drives the action as they determine where the story will go next. In real life, they are inspired to participate creatively, conduct their own adventures at nearby museums, and interrogate who is included in arts institutions.

"On the page, our work deals with artists and art museums, but these have larger symbolic resonance for any marginalized voice and whether or not they can find a platform in any given arts institution," said Troy Scheid, Director of Brave Little Company. "Many art museums are reaching into their archives or partnering with living artists to undo the erasure they have contributed to. As theatres, we are excited to participate in a project that not only increases knowledge about marginalized artists, but teaches audience members how to look for whose voice is being left out."

In Season 2 (the first to be funded in part by an NEA grant), the project engaged more than three dozen artists, the vast majority of whom were female or nonbinary, and filmed in five states.

Seasons 1 and 2 were able to powerfully explore why any gatekeeper (of art, of education, of publishing) might see an incentive to exclude certain stories from the mainstream, using the metaphor of the fictional Restoration Department (RD), a secret and deeply divided organization dedicated to uplifting women artists throughout history. This resonated powerfully in a time in with increased efforts to ban and challenge books and plays from public education and public libraries. The RD's appeal to young viewers was that youth have the strongest power of Clear Sight, a power that allows them to look at a work of art without preconceptions (developed as a real pedagogical tool by the MFTM partnership).

The upcoming Season 3, titled Unsupervised, opens in a library, where some young participants have gathered to continue re-discovering and rescuing lost works by women. Without the adult guidance they are used to, they must depend even more on their own Clear Sight, tackling disagreements among the team and misinformation from unreliable sources. As they develop their self-knowledge and knowledge of their subject, they become the authorities of the future.

The returning creative team for Missing from the Museum includes Troy Scheid, director of Brave Little Company, and Brittny Bush, a Houston actor and director who is BLC's Consulting Creative Director; Rachel Thuermer, Founder and Artistic Director of Dare to Dream Theatre; Jody Drezner Alperin, co-founder of Off the Page; Kassie Misiewicz, Founder and Artistic Director of Trike Theatre; Chris Tennison, Theatre Director, Alvin Community College; and teaching artist Amber-Nicole Sales.



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