Anchorage, AK—Anchorage Opera (AO) is pleased to announce the company has been approved to receive an American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help the arts and cultural sector recover from the pandemic. In this highly competitive grant cycle, the NEA received more than 7,500 eligible applications requesting $695 million. To review the applications, the agency employed more than 450 expert readers and panelists to review and score each application using the published review criteria. In total, the NEA will award grants totaling $57,750,000 to 567 arts organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC. AO is recommended to receive $50,000 and may use this funding to save jobs and to fund operations and facilities, health and safety supplies, and marketing and promotional efforts to encourage attendance and participation.
Notification of NEA funding comes at a critical time for AO which recently made the difficult decision to postpone their USA premiere of Missing, by distinguished First Nations playwright Marie Clements and Juno–award winning composer Brian Current, amid the Omicron variant surge. AO’s production, Indigenous led and cast, will give voice to the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), and projects around it with partner organizations including the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Native Movement, Data for Indigenous Justice, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Alaska Native Justice Center, and the Anchorage Museum are planned.
“We are honored and humbled to have been selected and sincerely grateful to the NEA for their support in these difficult times.” Reed Smith, AO General Director. “These funds will enable us to continue important work with our Missing partners and on costumes and set construction so that the opera will be healing for our community when we are able to reschedule.”
Community projects include the use of Voth Hall in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts as a space for opera attendees to view exhibits and informational tables from partner organizations. Pre-performance traditional ceremonies and post-performance Talking Circles meant to connect the audience with Alaska Native culture and with the cast and artistic team of Missing are planned. Partnering with Alaska Airlines, Elders, survivors, and families of MMIWG from across Alaska will be flown from regions across Alaska to attend a private performance with on-site grief counselors present.
“Our nation’s arts sector has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Endowment for the Arts’ American Rescue Plan funding will help arts organizations, such as Anchorage Opera, rebuild and reopen,” said Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the NEA. “The arts are crucial in helping America’s communities heal, unite, and inspire, as well as essential to our nation’s economic recovery.”
For more information on the NEA’s American Rescue Plan grants, including the full list of arts organizations funded in this announcement, visit www.arts.gov/COVID-19/the-american-rescue-plan.