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News

CSC Selected as a NEA "Our Town" Grant Recipient


National Endowment for the Arts Announces

2013 Our Town Grant Recipients

 

Boston, MA (July 17, 2013)-- The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 59 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.725 million and reaching 34 states in the Our Town program's third year of funding.  Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is the only Boston based organization to receive a $100,000 matching grant to fund “Shakespeare OFF the Common,” an innovative three-part arts program created in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events to foster community interaction.

Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of at least one nonprofit organization and a local government entity.

“Shakespeare OFF the Common” is an innovative three-part arts program created in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events to foster community interaction. CSC will launch a new initiative designed to expand artistic opportunities for young, apprentice artists called “CSC II.” To begin the “Shakespeare OFF the Common” project, CSC II will take curriculum and supplemental workshops into the Boston Public School system, introducing youth to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. CSC II will then perform a fully staged production of Romeo and Juliet at the Strand Theatre, a city-owned venue in Dorchester, for the Boston Public School students and the local public. Next, CSC II will reduce the full-length play to a one hour traveling work for the 2015 season’s “Tour of the Parks,” transforming some of Boston’s most cherished parks into open-air theatre venues for a day. This one-hour production—with set pieces, props and costumes from the full-length version—will also be the focal point for three, one-day arts festivals exploring creativity in the arts in underserved communities. “Tour of the Parks” performances will also take place at three outdoor venues adjacent to Boston Boys and Girls Clubs. The Boys and Girls Clubs will promote “Tour of the Parks” to their constituents and through the use of their buildings will provide key infrastructure, including storage, restrooms and an inclement weather location. The festivals will be free, open to the community and include performances from CSC II, workshops in the visual and performing arts and interactive outdoor activities. Community members who attend “Tour of the Parks” will receive a special invitation to enjoy King Lear at Shakespeare on the Common from VIP chairs, which usually require a $35 donation. Finally, as part of its 20th season, CSC will sustain its signature program, Shakespeare on the Common, and include the largest cast with the most Equity actors in CSC history.  As usual, CSC will feature nationally recognized actors in the lead roles.

"This is an exciting time to announce the Our Town grants as a national conversation around creative placemaking advances and deepens," said NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. "The NEA leads on this topic not only through our funding but through webinars, publications, and research. With these resources, we will help to ensure that the field of creative placemaking continues to mature, enhancing the quality of life for communities across the country."

“I am pleased to once again partner with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company to bring high-quality arts programming to our City,” Mayor Menino said.  “Shakespeare OFF the Common will introduce a new generation of talented young people to the power of performance in bringing the written word to life at the Strand Theater.  I would also like to thank the National Endowment for the Arts for making this investment in Boston.”

“We are both humbled and inspired by this extraordinary opportunity provided by the National Endowment for the Arts to expand our community engagement in partnership with our long-time collaborators The City of Boston and The Boys and Girls Club of Boston,” said CSC Artistic Director Steven Maler.  “Access for everyone is fundamental to the mission of CSC.  Over the 18 years of CSC, we have served over a million patrons on the Boston Common, yet we are driven to continually re-dedicate ourselves to making high quality theater for all, not just those that can afford the ever-increasing expense of attending live theater.  In Shakespeare’s day, everyone went to the theater, and we aim to return Shakespeare to his populist roots.”

The NEA received 254 applications for Our Town this year. Grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 with a median grant amount of $50,000.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and creative placemaking resources are available as well.

The Twitter hashtag is #NEAOurTown13

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