National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced last week that AOP (American Opera Projects) is one of 832 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. AOP is recommended for a $15,000 grant to support the creation, development and presentation of Nkeiru Okoye's folk opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed the Line to Freedom, during 2013, the 100th anniversary year of Tubman's death and the 150th anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation. Performances of the opera will occur in states along the Underground Railroad where Tubman was active.
"I'm proud to announce these 832 grants to the American public including AOP's Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed the Line to Freedom," 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."
Charles Jarden, General Director of AOP, states "AOP is grateful to the NEA for their support of new work, especially new opera. Harriet Tubman is the fourth AOP opera in four years to receive NEA funds. With the aid of this generous support AOP has launched four stylistically different, artistically excellent projects that have had and will continue for many years to have an impact on citizens of our county. AOP commissioned Nkeiru Okoye for songs in our I HEAR AMERICA SINGING program, through funds from New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs, and we witnessed the powerful impact of her music on the general public when we performed them in various inner city locations. We are thrilled to be working with Nkeiru on her first opera and her choice of the Tubman story is perfect for AOP, a Brooklyn-based opera company."
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 $22.3 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.
As part of AOP First Chance, a public workshop series for developing new opera and music-theater works, music from Harriet Tubman has been presented at several New York City venues including Galapagos Art Space and the Brooklyn Public Library. It has also received libretto development in closed workshop sessions at AOP. Sample videos may be viewed at the opera's First Chance page on the AOP website at http://operaprojects.org/tubman.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov.
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