National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced Wednesday that CENTERSTAGE is one of 832 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant for its Spring 2013 Raisin Cycle. The announcement comes on the heels of CENTERSTAGE Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah's own Beneatha's Place, penned for the Cycle, receiving The Edgerton New American Play Award.
Kwei-Armah conceived Beneatha's Place to converse with Bruce Norris' Pulitzer- and Tony-winning Clybourne Park, as well as with Norris' own inspiration, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. This new work will premiere this spring as The Raisin Cycle in rotating repertory with Clybourne Park, under the direction of Derrick Sanders.
"We are honored to have the faith and support of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Edgerton Foundation for this undertaking," said Kwei-Armah. "Inspiring conversation among our audiences has been the aim of my first season at CENTERSTAGE and having the opportunity to develop Beneatha's Place to run in tandem with the brilliant Clybourne Park will be the ultimate realization of that goal."
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.
The Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Program launched nationally in 2007. The grant provides resources to extend a play's originally scheduled rehearsal period, with the participation of the playwright and the full creative team. Ten previous Edgerton awardees have received Broadway productions; seven have been nominated for Tony Awards, and four for the Pulitzer Prize.
CENTERSTAGE, the State Theater of Maryland, celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season in 2012-13. The professional, nonprofit company serves as a local hub and national leader for provocative, entertaining theater and as a catalyst for conversation in the community. Each year, a broad range of productions in two intimate performance spaces attracts a highly diverse audience of over 100,000 people-including more than 8,000 fiercely loyal members. Under the leadership of acclaimed playwright, actor, and director Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director) and national arts leader Stephen Richard (Managing Director), CENTERSTAGE enters its 50th year with a renewed dedication to the production of world-class theater in the heart of Baltimore.
CENTERSTAGE's 50th Anniversary is made possible by presenting partner M&T Bank, and support from DLA Piper, The Rouse Company Foundation, T. Rowe Price and the T. Rowe Price Foundation, Ellen and Ed Bernard, Stephanie and Ashton Carter, James and Janet Clauson, Lynn and Tony Deering and The Charlesmead Foundation, Jane and Larry Droppa, Terry H. Morgenthaler and Patrick Kerins, Judy and Scott Phares, Phil and Lynn Rauch, Jay and Sharon Smith, and Barbara Voss and Charles E. Noell, III; with additional support from Kathleen Hyle, Kenneth C. and Elizabeth M. Lundeen, and Sylvan/Laureate Foundation; and season media partners Maryland Public Television, The Baltimore Sun, WYPR, and WBAL.