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Meet MPR’s new president; National Theatre Live is on YouTube

ALSO: Cantus: The Covid-19 Session videos; #OperationReadAloud; NKB Art Sprawl (Virtual Edition #2); and more.

Duchesne Drew
Courtesy of MPR
Duchesne Drew
After an extensive national search, American Public Media Group has found MPR’s next president – at the Bush Foundation.

Duchesne Drew will start at MPR on May 4. He will lead programming and daily operations for MPR News, Classical MPR, the Current and MPR’s digital, social and mobile services.

At Bush, Drew led the foundation’s leadership programs, community innovation and communication teams and built networks across the region. Before then, he was managing editor of operations at the Star Tribune.

John McTaggart, president and CEO of American Public Media Group (APMG) and CEO of MPR, made the announcement on Wednesday. He called Duchesne “absolutely the right leader for our regional services – especially during this extraordinary time.”

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Tom Roesler, APMG’s chief business development officer, has served as interim president of MPR since November. Roesler will return to developing new business and earned revenue support for APMG.

Heads up, arts nonprofits

The $2 trillion federal stimulus package known as the CARES Act (for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) includes a $75 million appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Just two weeks after the act was approved, the NEA has announced its guidelines to swiftly distribute funding to nonprofit arts organizations across the country, to preserve jobs and help support organizations forced to close operations.

The NEA will award 40 percent of the funds to state and regional arts agencies by April 30 to distribute through their funding programs. The other 60 percent will be direct grants to nonprofit arts organizations across the US. Those will be announced by June 30.

More than 3,700 organizations that have received NEA awards in the past four years are eligible to apply for a direct grant of $50,000. The application deadline is April 22. FMI.

New musicals are on the way

Someday before too long, our lives will resume. Theaters, concert halls and clubs will reopen. We’ll see and hear shows that were postponed or canceled, and soon there will be new work. Theater Latté Da is helping to make sure of that.

In late September 2019, which now seems like a million years ago, Latté Da announced the Next Generation Commission, a new opportunity for women artists and artists of color, funded in part by the NEA and designed to support the creation and development of new musical theater projects. Earlier this week, the theater named the first team of recipients.

The Kilbanes – singer/songwriters Kate Kilbane and Dan Moses – and actor/directors Jessie Austrian and Noah Brody will share the $20,000 commission. Latté Da will have the right to stage the world premiere. The project will receive creative and developmental support over an 18-month period, including two developmental workshops and inclusion in the theater’s annual NEXT Festival, launched in 2013 and a dynamic part of Twin Cities theater ever since.

Next Generation Commission funding recipients, from left to right: Kate Kilbane, Dan Moses, Jessie Austrian and Noah Brody.
Photos by Emily Sevin/Walter McBride
Next Generation Commission funding recipients, from left to right: Kate Kilbane, Dan Moses, Jessie Austrian and Noah Brody.
It’s all part of Latté Da’s new works initiative, which is currently supporting the creation of new musicals by Steven Epp, Bradley Greenwald, Harrison David Rivers, Kate Sutton-Johnson and Joserra Zuniga.

“Even in these uncertain times, we are investing in our future and the future of the art form by continuing to seed and support new work,” Latté Da’s Peter Rothstein said in a statement. “At a time when so many artists have seen income and opportunities evaporate, it feels especially good to be putting money directly into the hands of artists.”

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The picks

Available now, with more to come: Cantus: The Covid-19 Sessions. As scheduled events tumbled like dominoes, venues closed and touring schedules unraveled, the men’s vocal group Cantus – a full-time, salaried chamber ensemble suddenly out of work – spent three days at Westminster Church. With proper social distancing, they recorded a series of 24 videos, each a single song. Cantus is a treasure, and these performances, recorded at the height of emotion and exquisitely sung, should not be missed. Several are available now at Cantus’ Facebook page and Instagram. FMI. Donate if you can.

Happening now through April 19: NKB Art Sprawl (Virtual Edition #2). How we wish we could walk through the Northrup King Building. Those big windows and worn, creaky floors! That will have to wait, but in the meantime, if you have an itch for new art and the means to acquire some, try this. Go here, find something you like, type SOLD in the comment beneath the image, and the artist will message you to coordinate shipping and purchase.

#OperationReadAloud. If you haven’t yet discovered this Facebook group – and especially if you have children at home – you will definitely want to check this out. Launched by the delightful Lisa Von Drasek, curator of the U of M’s Children’s Literature Research Collections, it’s a fast-growing collection of children’s book authors, illustrators and advocates reading books aloud and giving workshops in writing and drawing. This is a genuinely fantastic resource, moderated by Von Drasek and two more administrators to keep the trolls away.

Starting today, National Theatre Live presents “Jane Eyre,” adapted by Sally Cookson.
Photo by Manuel Harlan
Starting today, National Theatre Live presents “Jane Eyre,” adapted by Sally Cookson.
Now on YouTube: National Theatre at Home. O.M.G. If you’ve ever seen National Theatre Live – productions from London’s National Theatre, beamed live into theaters like MSP Film’s St. Anthony Main Theatre #3 and the Edina Cinema – you know how fabulous they are. Great plays, great casts. Encore showings are filmed versions of the live broadcasts. Over the years, the National Theatre has amassed what Time Out London calls “the greatest archive of cinema-quality recordings of stage plays of any theatre on the planet.” With theaters everywhere under lockdown, including movie houses, NT Live is releasing a play a week on YouTube every Thursday starting at 1 pm CST. It’s free to watch for a week, with bonus content including Q&As with the cast. If you’re reading this early Thursday, you might be able to catch the first play in the series, Richard Bean’s “One Man, Two Guvnors,” starring James Cordon. (To see it all, you’ll have to start watching by 10 a.m. CST.) Starting today (Thursday, April 9): “Jane Eyre,” adapted by Sally Cookson. April 16: “Treasure Island,” adapted by Bryony Lavery. April 23: Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” starring Tamsin Greig. Visit the website to learn more about each play. And donate if you can. Will they share Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Hamlet”? We can only hope.