MEDFORD, OR — Britt Music & Arts Festival is excited to be the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which will be used to produce and perform a wheelchair-based dance work through a five-day educational residency.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is a Challenge America grant of $10,000 to Britt Music & Arts Festival for the project “Descent From Beauty”. The Challenge America category supports primarily small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.
“This is the second year in a row that Britt has secured NEA funds to support World Premiers in southern Oregon”, says Britt CEO Donna Briggs. “It is with great pride that Britt is taking the initiative to support Performing Arts professionals with disabilities and help advance their artistic work and careers.”
The artists of Kinetic Light (Laurel Lawson, Michael Maag and Alice Sheppard) come together for “Descent From Beauty”, a dance work that tells the story of Venus and Andromeda, as brought together by projections of Rodin sculptures. Selected sculptures are animated as the dancers take on their form in movement, using a specially designed set of inclined planes intended to challenge the conventional relationship of slope and wheeled disabled movement. This collaborative work asks how contemporary notions of beauty are informed by our unconscious ideas about movement, disability, and race.
Britt Education & Engagement has invited Kinetic Light to fulfill a five-day educational residency, which will include open rehearsals of “Descent From Beauty” for local students with question and answer segments so students can discover the artists’ collaborative journey from the initial idea to the realization of the fully produced work. Local theater students will also be invited to participate in various rehearsal and performance support tasks such as lighting, projections, sound, and stage crew. Invitations will also be sent to the Veterans’ Hospital and other local organizations to attend an open dress rehearsal prior to the world premiere performance of the work. Britt and Kinetic Light are committed to facilitating a performance that is accessible to all audience members, and will present the premiere at an ADA compatible venue, provide sign language interpretation, visual description, and braille programs.
Inspired by its intimate and scenic hillside venue, Britt Music & Arts Festival provides diverse live performances, an incomparable classical festival and dynamic education programs that create a sense of discovery and community. Since its grassroots beginnings in 1963, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber music festival into a summer-long series of concerts in a variety of genres, including a three-week orchestra season, and year-round education and engagement programs. For more information, visit brittfest.org.