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Five-Theater Partnership Receives $1.5 Million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant To Create GENERATION NOW

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Partners will commission and develop 16 new plays for multigenerational audiences by writers who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian American Pacific Islander.

Five-Theater Partnership Receives $1.5 Million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant To Create GENERATION NOW

Los Angeles-based Latino Theater Company and Native Voices at the Autrey are two of five nationally respected theater companies whose landmark partnership has received a generous $1.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create Generation Now.

The partnership, which also includes Penumbra (Saint Paul, MN), Ma-Yi Theater Company (New York City, NY) and Children's Theatre Company (Minneapolis, MN), will commission and develop 16 new plays by Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian American Pacific Islander writers for multigenerational audiences. The output of Generation Now promises to radically expand the inclusiveness of each theater, expand the canon of work produced for multigenerational audiences, and create a model of transformative partnership for the theater field.

"From its inception, Native Voices has been dedicated to supporting Indigenous playwrights and theater artists and sharing Native stories with audiences of all ages," states Native Voices at the Autry Artistic Director DeLanna Studi. "We are excited to collaborate with these incredible cohort theaters on Generation Now to reach across generations and geography, bringing multi-generational, diverse audiences together to appreciate the universal human experience and collectively shape an inclusive, shared future."

Latino Theater Company Artistic Director José Luis Valenzuela states, "This collaboration gives us the opportunity to advance our mission and to engage in a national dialogue with culturally specific theater companies in the development and creation of new works for the American theater canon for young and culturally specific audiences."

These partnerships are expected to bring a richer cultural context to the work and to collectively amplify each communities' voices. Generation Now is guided by a deep respect and advocacy for the intelligence and agency of younger audiences. The consortium also strongly believes that if we are to have an extraordinary theater culture in this country, we must start young, and it must be intera??generational, inclusive, inspiring, transformative, and lifelong.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation's largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Through their grants, they seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.

"Theaters serving multigenerational audiences are often the first places audiences encounter live theater," states The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Arts and Culture Program Officer Susan Feder. "Yet despite decades of activity that has resulted in the commissioning of original stories and adaptations of classical and contemporary ones, the field lacks a repertoire that includes a plurality of voices and stories from emerging and established artists of color. The Mellon Foundation is delighted to be supporting the 16 artists who will be working with these five eminent theaters to co-develop new plays and musicals serving audiences for whom culturally relevant voices and stories could be formative. We look forward to the development of a significant body of artistically rigorous new work to be produced in multiple venues across the country."

"Not only is Penumbra excited to work with such esteemed partners, but really hopeful about the collaborative model that we are developing together," stated Penumbra's Artistic Director Sarah Bellamy. "For the field to change, the canon must be diversified and young people in particular need to see themselves lovingly and authentically represented onstage. When we imagine the impact of this project, the possibilities are myriad and so vitalizing."

"This is an amazing gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation," states Ma-Yi Theater Company's Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña. "An opportunity to work with Children's Theatre Company to develop new works for multigenerational audiences is a long-held dream for Ma-Yi Theater, made even sweeter by a cohort of culturally specific theaters we have long admired."

"Children's Theatre Company is grounded in the deep respect we have for our audiences, our partner theaters, and the desire to create powerful new work," states CTC Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius. "We look forward to continuing to learn from each other with Generation Now. We know that our distinctive work and practices will profoundly inform and inspire us as we move these plays from conception, through commission and development, and into production for our audiences."

Due to the scale and ambition of Generation Now, the grant also includes the creation of an annual arts administration fellowship to add support for all the partner theaters in the implementation of Generation Now.

Playwrights-both established and emerging-will be selected by Latino Theater Company, Native Voices at the Autry, Maa??Yi Theater Company and Penumbra, all with expertise in creating artistically excellent, culturally specific theater, in collaboration with Children's Theatre Company as the coa??commissioner with expertise in creating dynamic and powerful multigenerational theater. All decisions will be grounded in learning, respect, and celebrating the perspectives of all organizations. Collectively, the partners are acutely aware of the absence of marginalized voices in the canon of plays for multigenerational audiences.


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