Press Room


November 18, 2011

Contact: Heather Nowlin

Pioneer Theatre Company receives NEA grant to support its
New Plays Initiative

Grant part of NEA announcement of 863 grants and $22.543 million in funding nationwide


Salt Lake City —The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman today announced that the agency will award 863 grants to organizations and individual writers across the country. Pioneer Theatre Company is one of the grantees and will receive $10,000 to support developmental workshops of two commissioned shows under the auspices of its New Plays Initiative. The 863 grant awards total $22.543 million, encompass 15 artistic disciplines and fields, and support projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The two commissioned shows funded by the grant are the Tony Award winners Dominique Serrand and Steve Epp’s Invisible to the Eye–Looking for the Little Prince, and Brighde Mullins’ POETRY: A Play. The first work will be a collaboratively created piece about Antoine de Saint-Exupery, his life as a pilot both before and during Word War II, and the writing of The Little Prince. Mullins’ play will examine the life of poet Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to publish a book of poetry, who, by doing so, gained her freedom and changed the argument for emancipation.

“Art Works is the guiding principle at the NEA,” said agency Chairman Rocco Landesman. “And I’m pleased to see that principle represented through the 823 Art Works-funded projects included in this announcement. These projects demonstrate the imaginative and innovative capacities of artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.”

“When I came to Pioneer Theatre Company three years ago to start the New Plays Initiative, two of the first emails I wrote were to Brighde Mullins and to Dominique Serrand and Steve Epp,” said Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Williamson. “I had admired Brighde’s work for years, and when she told us she wanted to write a play about Phillis Wheatley we immediately commissioned it. I’ve worked on a number of shows with Dominique Serrand and Steve Epp over the years, and am thrilled to be bringing their unique theatrical vision to Pioneer Theatre Company. These commissioned projects, along with the upcoming world premiere of Wendy MacLeod’s Find and Sign in January 2012, demonstrate the artistic range of the kinds of work we want to develop and bring to the Utah audience via PTC’s New Plays Initiative.”

In March 2011, the NEA received 1,686 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $84 million in funding. The resulting funding rate of 49 percent of eligible applications reflects both the significant demand for support and the ongoing vitality of the not-for-profit arts community despite current financial challenges. Art Works grants are awarded based on the applications received by the NEA and how those applications are assessed by the review panels.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.

Pioneer Theatre Company, a theatre in residence at the University of Utah, operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. Pioneer Theatre Company, Utah’s only fully professional theatre, performs at Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, located on the University of Utah campus at 300 South and 1400 East in Salt Lake City, easily accessible by TRAX light rail. Free parking is also available and the theatre is equipped with an elevator, handicap parking, hearing assistance devices and other easy-access features.

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