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NEA grants go to 45 Minnesota groups; ‘Carmina Burana’ at the Cowles

ALSO: Andrea Jenkins at Mixed Blood; Osmo Vänskä and Erin Keefe to play chamber music at Zion Lutheran; and more.

Forty-five Minnesota organizations will share nearly $1 million in grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA announced Wednesday.

Grants were awarded to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Minnesota came in sixth in the number of grants received and seventh in the number of dollars; New York and California led both categories.

The grants awarded in this round include Art Works and Challenge America grants. Art Works grants support specific projects. Challenge America grants help small and mid-sized organizations extend their reach to populations with limited access to the arts. All have cost share/matching grant requirements. None may be used for general operating expenses.

More than half of the Minnesota grants fall within the $10-$15,000 range. Lakes Area Music Festival, Saint John’s University, Stages Theatre Company, Ananya Dance, Illusion Theater, Ragamala Dance, and the Anderson Center in Red Wing are among the winners here.

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Grants of $50,000 and above went to Coffee House Press ($50,000), Graywolf Press ($70,000), Minnesota Opera ($55,000 to support its upcoming production of “Edward Tulane,” an opera based on the book by two-time Newbery-winning Minnesota author Kate DiCamillo), and Penumbra Theatre ($55,000 for its upcoming production of Claudia Rankine’s “The White Card”).

Here’s the complete list of grantees by state.

The Trump administration has repeatedly called for zeroing out funding for the NEA, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which supports PBS and NPR) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Instead, the House has approved increases in arts and culture funding. In 2020, the NEA will receive $7.25 million more in funding than it did in 2019, and CPB will get $20 million more.

In June 2019, a special session of the Minnesota Legislature ended with an 11 percent increase in state arts funding, which now totals $40.7 million for each of the next two state fiscal years.

American Composers Forum names award-winning composers

Two of the five winners of a major award for new composers are from Minnesota. The American Composers Forum announced last week that Michael Maiorana and Mary Prescott, both of Minneapolis, have been selected for the 2020 ACF | Create program. Supported by the Jerome Foundation for 41 years, formerly called JFund – Jerome Fund for New Music, the program awards composers $11,000 to create a project, including $8,000 in commissioning funds and $3,000 in production and promotion support.

Mary Prescott
Photo by Erika Kapin
Mary Prescott
Maiorana will compose 30 minutes of music for chamber choir and project partner Aliro Voices, including portions of a speech given by Harry Hopkins in 1936. Hopkins was Secretary of Commerce under Franklin D. Roosevelt and director of the Works Progress Administration. Working with project partner Living Arts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Prescott will explore her mother’s undocumented Thai ancestry and experience as a Southeast Asian immigrant raising biracial children in America, and the impact on three generations of women.

The other three winners of this year’s ACF | Create are Anaïs Maviel and Richard Sears of Brooklyn, New York and Sugar Vendil of New York City.

Norway House crushes gingerbread house with hydraulic excavator

Nordic humor tends to be, shall we say, a little dark. Also kind of obtuse. As in, “I’m sorry, was that supposed to be funny?” (Disclaimer: this writer is half Norwegian.) Which is why, when a video from Norway House made us laugh, we had to share.

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Norway House, the blue building at 913 East Franklin that shares a city block with Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Church, is beginning an expansion project. It recently demolished an old duplex on the property to make room for a larger campus to include a new event and reception center and a genealogical research library. When its annual Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit (a holiday draw) closed on Jan. 5, bakers were invited to pick up their creations or sacrifice them to a greater good: a gingerbread foundation for the future. Heather Vick made the hard decision.

Gingerbread Wonderland
Courtesy of Norway House
When Norway House's annual Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit closed on Jan. 5, bakers were invited to pick up their creations or sacrifice them to a greater good.
This Friday, Jan. 17, Norway House will host an opening reception for a show of sketches by the architect chosen to design the expansion. “Dewey Thorbeck: An Architect’s Travel Sketches” will feature watercolors of shops in Homer, Alaska, Machu Picchu and the Nidaras Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, to name a few. It will also feature Thorbeck’s sketches and plans for the Norway House expansion.

The reception begins at 6 p.m., with a presentation at 6:30. Thorbeck will be there. Light food offerings and a cash bar will be available. $15 general admission, $10 members. RSVP here. The exhibition will stay up through Feb. 9. The usual gallery admission is $5.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, Jan. 16) at Mixed Blood: Zealous Hellions: Andrea Jenkins. Mixed Blood is starting something new: a speaker series featuring outspoken artists, cultural provocateurs, politicians and thought leaders. First up: Andrea Jenkins, writer, performance artist, poet, transgender activist and the first African American, openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Jenkins will be in conversation with Tabitha Montgomery, executive director of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25). Two future Hellions are scheduled. March 17: playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer Taylor Mac (“judy”). May 1: Tommy Barbarella, a former member of Prince’s New Power Generation, who will perform “The Girl Who Cried Different” with his 13-year-old daughter, Mariella, who lives with a developmental disorder called Williams syndrome (WS).

Tonight at the Edina Cinema: National Theatre Live: “All My Sons.” Sally Field and Bill Pullman star in Arthur Miller’s drama, recorded live in 2019 at the Old Vic in London. Directed by Jerem Herrin, with Jenna Coleman (“Victoria”) and Colin Morgan (“Merlin”). 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Carmina Burana
Courtesy of the Minnesota Dance Theatre
From the Minnesota Dance Theatre, “Carmina Burana” is back for its fifth consecutive year.
Friday through Sunday at the Cowles: Minnesota Dance Theatre: “Carmina Burana.” Back for its fifth consecutive year, by popular demand. The MDT dancers interpret Carl Orff’s score, which some have called the rock music of the early 20th century. The text is a group of ballads – some lusty, some satirical, sung in Latin and old German – by 13th-century monks. The music, especially the magnificent “O fortuna,” heard in a million movies and ads, is simply thrilling. Featuring vocalists Bradley Greenwald, Linh Kauffman and Justin Madel and the mighty Minnesota Chorale, this is a can’t-miss good time. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturdaay, 3 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($26-45).

Sunday at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka: Joya Chamber Music: Osmo Vänskä and Erin Keefe. Yes, you read that right. The Minnesota Orchestra’s music director and concertmaster, who are husband and wife, will play a concert of music for violin, clarinet and piano (with Mary Jo Gothmann), including works by Sibelius, Beethoven, Schubert and Arutiunian. Also on the program: a Vänskä-Keefe duo written by Vänskä, and a waltz in A written for them by composer Eric N. King at Vänskä’s request. 3 p.m. $20 cash/check at the door.