Virginia Stage Awarded Grants From National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) includes Virginia Stage Company as one of the recipients of its first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019. The announcement includes three of the agency's funding categories: Art Works and Challenge America to support projects by nonprofit organizations, and Creative Writing Fellowships. Through these grants, the NEA supports local economies and preserves American heritage while embracing new forms of creative expression.

Doubling their funding this year to $20,000, the NEA's award supports Virginia Stage's production of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, as well as community conversations surrounding the play's theme of colorism. Adapted by Lydia R. Diamond and produced in collaboration with Norfolk State University Theatre Company, these in-community and in-school discussions engage artists, scholars, and community members in thought-provoking dialogue, unpacking and analyzing the play's subject matter.

"The arts enhance our communities and our lives, and we look forward to seeing these projects take place throughout the country, giving Americans opportunities to learn, to create, to heal, and to celebrate," said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Art Works is the Arts Endowment's principal grantmaking program. The agency received 1,605 Art Works applications to review, and will distribute awards in this category totaling more than $25 million.

Tackling the Community Conversation around Colorism with The Bluest Eye

This project supports the production of and community conversations surrounding The Bluest Eye and how critically important it is that Virginia Stage Company responsibly curate the community conversation and partner with ideal local and regional institutions. Virginia Stage will be working in collaboration with Norfolk State University Theatre Company, award-winning and nationally recognized presenting organization situated on an HBCU campus, on the production and the in-community and in-school discussions with artists and scholars. Other partners include The Sankofa Projects and Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

Virginia Stage Company is southeastern Virginia's leading theatre destination, serving an audience of over 70,000 annually both at the Wells Theatre and throughout the community. Virginia Stage Company's mission is to "enrich, educate, and entertain the region by creating and producing theatrical art of the highest quality."

For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit

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