Kentucky Shakespeare Awarded 2 NEA Grants
Arts Midwest (Minneapolis, MN) announced last week the recipients of $1 million in Shakespeare in American Communities: Schools grants to 40 nonprofit, professional theater companies from 25 states and the District of Columbia. For the third consecutive year, Kentucky Shakespeare has been selected as one of the recipients of a $25,000 award. The grant will support Kentucky Shakespeare's HAMLET tour across the states of Kentucky and Indiana to at least 35 schools in 2020, including urban areas and far-reaching rural areas of Appalachia. The student experience will also include comprehensive curriculum guides, in-depth discussions, and workshops.
Arts Midwest also announced the first seven grantees in an initiative to expand the National Endowment for the Arts' long-standing Shakespeare in American Communities program into the juvenile justice system. Shakespeare in American Communities: Juvenile Justice will provide $170,000 in federal funds specifically earmarked for programming for young people in the U.S. criminal justice system over the next year. Kentucky Shakespeare has been awarded $25,000 to build a multi-disciplinary arts residency at Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services. Kentucky Shakespeare will provide comprehensive Shakespeare programming at Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services - serving boys and girls ages 10-17 in the facility. Programming will include teaching artists specializing in theatre, playwriting, visual arts, and conflict resolution over the 2019-2020 season. Kentucky Shakespeare began its focus on serving incarcerated and at-risk young people in 1995 and the initiative continues to be led by Producing Artistic Director Matt Wallace. Wallace has been volunteer Facilitator/Director of the Shakespeare Behind Bars Kentucky programs since 2008.
"We are thrilled by this opportunity to deepen and expand our work across the Commonwealth. We believe Shakespeare belongs to everyone, and both of these grants will allow us to reach new people with the universal human stories that can connect us all," said Wallace. "The schools grant will take us back to underserved schools in rural and urban areas around the state. And the juvenile justice grant will enable us to develop and implement new programming serving youth at Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services (YDS), a first for us. We look forward to working with YDS Director Dr. Ursula Mullins and her staff over the year to bring impactful arts programming to at-risk youth in crisis."
"Shakespeare's plays come to life on traditional stages and in school gymnasiums across the country because of Arts Midwest's longtime partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts," said Christy Dickinson, Arts Midwest's senior program director. "These theater companies and programs are woven into the fabric of these schools and enhance the study of a Shakespeare play in the classroom through educational activities that get Shakespeare's words into their bodies and make them come to life. For a moment, these students turn off their cell phones and are enthralled in a story that connects them to Shakespeare's characters in a way they never
imagined. These companies continue to emphasize diversity within their casts and these student audiences see themselves reflected on stage."
"Since 2003, the National Endowment for the Arts has brought professional performances of Shakespeare's plays to millions of middle and high school students in cities and towns across the United States. Not only has the initiative had a cultural impact in our nation's schools, the program has proven to be transformative in the juvenile justice system," said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the Arts Endowment.
The awards mark the seventeenth consecutive year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. Since the program's inception in 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has introduced more than three million middle and high school students to the power of live theater and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare through performances and educational activities. Kentucky Shakespeare has previously received seven Shakespeare in American Communities grants.