The National Endowment for the Arts approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement are Art Works grants of $30,000 for Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts‘ Breaking Ground Dance Series and $25,000 to support Wesleyan University Press in the publication and promotion of books of poetry.
The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.
The Breaking Ground Dance Series at the Center for the Arts, now in its 17th season at Wesleyan, features cutting-edge choreography, world-renowned companies and companies pushing the boundaries of the art form. Upcoming performances this season include the return of Urban Bush Women on March 3. The company will be performing the Connecticut premiere of ‘Walking with ‘Trane,’ an ethereal investigation conjuring the essence of John Coltrane, inspired by the musical life and spiritual journey of the famed jazz saxophonist.
Past companies from the U.S. and abroad that have been featured on the Breaking Ground Dance Series include Bebe Miller Company, Camille A. Brown, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Chunky Move, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, and Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. The Center for the Arts partners with Wesleyan’s Dance Department and a subcommittee of their faculty and students to select the companies and plan their residencies.
“Dance is arguably the most under-supported of the performing arts, so funding from the NEA significantly enhances the CFA’s ability to bring dance artists of the highest caliber to Connecticut audiences,” said Laura Paul, interim director of the Center for the Arts. “And beyond the dollars, it is a real point of pride to have the NEA as a funding partner.”
Wesleyan University Press will publish authors Kamau Brathwaite, Camille Dungy, Shane McCrae, Erin Moure, Evie Shockley and Gina Athena Ulysse, who is professor of anthropology and feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan. Books will be accompanied by online reader companions, and will be promoted through author readings and workshops, social media, and the press’s website, among other means.
“We are delighted to have the support of the National Endowment for the Arts for the poetry titles that will be published in 2017,” said Wesleyan University Press Director Suzanna Tamminen. “The books coming out this year are tuned to concerns about the planet, about violence in the streets, faraway and in our own homes. At the same time these poems uplift us, and break us out of routine molds of thought. Over the years, this kind of support from the NEA has helped us to reach thousands of people, with readings at libraries, universities, public parks, museums, theaters, schools, bookstores and clubs. We are very excited about this year’s books, and grateful to the NEA for supporting the Press and these works of art.”
A portion of the grant will also enable reading tours for each author.
“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Wesleyan University Press, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”