National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced yesterday that TheatreWorks is one of 832 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. TheatreWorks will receive a $30,000 grant to support the creation of new plays and musicals through the New Works Initiative. The 832 grant awards total $23.3 million and encompass 13 artistic disciplines and fields.
TheatreWorks embraced the entrepreneurial values of its home in Silicon Valley and codified its commitment to new works by launching the New Works Initiative in 2000. The program incorporates all stages of the development process, from readings and workshops to an annual Writer's Retreat, annual New Works Festival, and full productions of world premieres. The smash Broadway hit Memphis, which claimed the Tony Awards for “Best Musical,” “Best Score,” “Best Book,” and “Best Orchestrations” and is now on a national tour, was first workshopped as a part of the 2002 TheatreWorks New Works Festival and made its world premiere at TheatreWorks in 2004. Many other plays and musicals developed under the New Works Initiative have been produced throughout the country, and several have made their way to the TheatreWorks main stage, including the world premiere of Paul Gordon’s Being Earnest, opening this spring as part of TheatreWorks’ 2012/2013 season.
Says composer Paul Gordon, “I consider myself extremely lucky that I have formed an artistic alliance with a theatre company that so profoundly understands the development process and is able to produce such high quality work year in and year out.”
New Works Initiative activities for the 2012/2013 season include the world premiere productions of Upright Grand and Being Earnest, as well as a collaborative Writers Retreat, and the 12th annual New Works Festival in August 2013.
“New work is the lifeblood of the American theatre, and it is the heartbeat of TheatreWorks,” says Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley. “The NEA’s commitment to the development of new work resonates throughout the country. We are immensely proud of its support for our New Works Initiative, annual Festival, and distinguished writers and composers who participate.”
“I’m proud to announce these 832 grants to the American public including TheatreWorks’ New Works Initiative,” said Chairman Landesman. “These projects offer extraordinary examples of creativity in our country, including the creation of new work, innovative ways of engaging audiences, and exemplary education programs.”
In March 2012, the NEA received 1,509 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $74 million in funding. The 832 recommended NEA grants total $23.3 million, span 13 artistic disciplines and fields, and focus primarily on the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing works for the benefit of American audiences. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.
With some 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatregoers with their first look at acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast locally and from across the country. A home for artists developing new works, it was at TheatreWorks that Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical that is making its London premiere and returning to the Bay Area on its national tour this fall, was first workshopped and received its world premiere.