Submitted by The Washington Center for the Performing Arts

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts has been approved for a $10,000 Challenge America grant. The project seeks to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the arts. A highlight of the project includes technical theater production for a world-premiere Indigenous performance of “The Aunties,” in collaboration with Olympia-based Indigenous Performance Productions.

This is one of 1,498 awards totaling nearly $33.2 million that were selected to receive fiscal year 2022 funding in the Challenge America grant category. Grants for Arts Projects funding spans 15 artistic disciplines and reaches communities in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Each grant is for a fixed amount of $10,000 and requires a minimum $10,000 cost share/match. “The importance of the NEA cannot be understated. Artists and arts organizations rely on a diverse stream of funding,” says Jill Barnes, Executive Director of the Washington Center.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects like this one from the Washington Center that help support the community’s creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “The Washington Center is among the organizations nationwide that are using the arts as a source of strength, a path to well-being, and providing access and opportunity for people to connect and find joy through the arts.”

The artistic highlight of this effort will be a public performance and student outreach effort for “The Aunties.” In Indigenous culture, Aunties are honored as the Matriarchs of the community and as important culture bearers. The Washington Center will support the production of “The Aunties”, a once in a lifetime evening of theater featuring three one act short solo plays.

Andre Bouchard, director of Indigenous Performance Productions explains that “the preponderance of stories about the Indigenous people have been generated by Hollywood, the book industry and the western canon of live theater.” More often than not these stories are destructive and feature Native people as the enemy, or addicts, or violent. This effort and “The Aunties” specifically will tell Native stories by Native writers and actors.

For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit the Arts Endowment website.

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