Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) has announced the recipients of its fiscal year 2020 Innovations Grants. Thirteen artists and organizations have been awarded $165,400 total in increments of up to $15,000 for the creation and presentation of new artistic endeavors taking place between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 in the mid-America region. Six of the recipients are Texas-based artists or groups, for projects taking place both in and outside of Texas.
The M-AAA is a nonprofit, regional arts organization that serves Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas by funding cultural experiences in communities. Within its ranks are artists, administrators, historians, writers and activists.
Here is a full list of the this year’s grant recipients, presented by discipline (via M-AAA):
The Pilot Dance Project (Houston, TX)
Untitled Stonewall Anniversary Dance Work ($10,000)
This is a community-based research project/performance piece that mines the history of the Houston LGBT community to create an archive of oral and visual narratives. In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots, artist Jhon R.Stronks will investigate the similarities and differences between the Stonewall Riot pioneers and the current cultural milieu that has witnessed the Pulse Orlando nightclub shooting and a wave of violence against transgender women of color.
Oklahoma City Ballet (Oklahoma City, OK)
A Little Peace ($15,000)
April 19, 2020 will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City that killed 168 adults and children. A Little Peace will pay homage to those who were lost, those who survived, and those who were forever changed. Artistic Director Robert Mills is working with the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation to coordinate the performance of the ballet with the ceremonies planned to take place the weekend of April 17–19, 2020.
Matthew Gossage (Austin, TX)
The Color of Place ($15,000)
Weaving four different time periods of history together, this project is a documentary film that uses cinema-vérité, artistically composed interviews, archival oral histories, re-enactments, animation, and drone cinematography to portray how race has played an integral role in Austin, Texas’ development.
Daniel M. Ketter, on behalf of American Wild Ensemble (Springfield, MO)
Women’s Voices: The American Aviatrix ($13,400)
Women’s Voices creates opportunities for women composers to write new music celebrating the lives and work of women critical to the shaping of America’s past, present, and future. Performing these commissioned works in communities and locations that are meaningful to the identity of the composers and subjects of these commissions, American Wild Ensemble celebrates the work of local composers and historical luminaries while inviting audiences to form a deeper connection with their own local history.
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE)
Nadia Botello’s Sound Performance and Residency ($15,000)
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts will support the production and premiere of a new experimental sound performance by San Antonio, Texas-based artist Nadia Botello. Bemis Center’s new Sound Art and Experimental Music Program offers three-month residencies to artists pushing the boundaries of sound, composition, voice, and music of all genres. Botello will be one of the first artists to participate in the organization’s new residency, open to national and international artists.
Justin Sherburn, on behalf of Montopolis (Austin, TX)
The Living Coast ($15,000)
Montopolis has developed a unique process of creating live concerts inspired by specific ecosystems in Texas. The Living Coast will use the 500 miles of coastline between Port Arthur and Brownsville, one of the epicenters of the world’s fossil fuel industry as well as a diverse ecosystem, as a metaphor for the signature challenge facing humanity in this century: the conflict between industry and our changing environment. The Living Coast will premiere at the Stateside Theater in Austin, Texas in August 2019 and will tour the Mid-America region through spring 2020.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective (St. Louis, MO)
The WHY of MY City ($7,000)
The WHY of MY City is an artistic commission designed to raise awareness on gun violence prevention and rebuild civic pride for St. Louis, MO, which has neighborhoods that are reeling from gun violence. A new work by African American artists will explore why citizens do and should care about their neighborhoods, even as outsiders might see the same city blocks as uninhabitable.
Opera Kansas (Wichita, KS)
Mr. Twister and the Tale of Tornado Alley ($5,000)
Opera Kansas will premiere a new opera, Mr. Twister and the Tale of Tornado Alley, in spring 2020 that will then serve as programming for OPERAtion Education. Mr. Twister tells the tale of a family reunion between the North Wind and the South Wind as observed by a tornado chaser, Mr. Twister, and his grandson. The story weaves together the science behind the formation of tornadoes and instruction on severe weather safety.
TheatreSquared (Fayetteville, AR)
2020 Arkansas New Play Festival ($15,000)
TheatreSquared (T2) will engage more than thirty local and regional professional theatre artists as part of the 2020 Arkansas New Play Festival (ANPF)—the state’s only dedicated professional laboratory for the development of new plays.
Creative Waco (Waco, TX)
Giant Puppets on Parade ($10,000)
This project represents a brand new approach to bringing the delight, innovation, and interactivity of the arts right into the heart of the Waco community by engaging a group of professional artists to work with community groups to create five giant parade puppets. Not only will this be a powerful representation of the vitality that the arts bring, but it will also engage professional artists with grassroots community groups, forging new working relationships and sparking further initiatives.
Steve Parker (Austin, TX)
Listening Objects ($15,000)
Listening Objects uses sculpture, performance, and education to engage the public in the art of listening. At the heart of this project is the creation of interactive sound sculptures that facilitate the simple, yet overlooked, act of focused listening. These objects will be experienced by people of all ages and will be exhibited outdoors during Artosphere: Arkansas’ annual Art + Nature festival. These sculptures will be accompanied by an illustrated book of listening games, a series of public workshops, and live performances.
(Read more about Steve Parker and his Tito’s Prize exhibition at Big Medium in Austin here.)
Oklahoma Contemporary (Oklahoma City, OK)
Flight: An Immersive Experience of the Tulsa Race Massacre ($15,000)
The 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 will be observed in 2021 with a series of events in Tulsa. With Flight, Crystal Z Campbell and Oklahoma Contemporary anticipate these events by one year and extend the conversation to Oklahoma City, and to the expected local and national audience that will attend or read about Oklahoma Contemporary’s inaugural exhibition. Flight will be a large-scale, site-specific work. Campbell’s vision is to create an immersive environment of sights, sounds, and smells that will transport audiences to Tulsa’s historical Black Wall Street district on May 31 and June 1, 1921, and make the events of those days real and visceral.
Ginna Dowling (Norman, OK)
The Language of Hope and Courage ($15,000)
The Language of Hope and Courage is a series of story installations created by artist Ginna Dowling in collaboration with The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City and its patients, designed to empower these children and bring joy and comfort to them and their families. During workshops, Dowling will facilitate a creative process where participants create self-representational identity symbols, and add them to collaborative pop-up installations. The individual images will then be remastered into vinyl, and placed in larger-than-life story installations that will cover the walls and windows of each correlating outreach area in the Children’s Hospital.
Go here for more information on the Artistic Innovations grants and M-AAA.