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CTC postpones reopening until March, reduces staff; 25 MN groups to share $1.25 million in CARES funding

ALSO: Mellon Foundation announces new focus on social justice; Jazz Fest Live events will move to Crooners’ outdoor spaces; and more.

“Seedfolks” will run for six weeks from March 2-April 11, 2021.
“Seedfolks” will run for six weeks from March 2-April 11, 2021.
Photo by Dan Norman

The Children’s Theatre Company has joined the Guthrie in announcing it won’t reopen until March 2021. Its first live stage production will be the return of “Seedfolks,” originally scheduled for this fall. The one-person show about an inner-city garden and its neighbors was developed and premiered here in 2014; it has since toured widely, including to South Africa. In the original production, Sonja Parks played all 11 roles. “Seedfolks” will run for six weeks from March 2-April 11. “Annie,” which would have ended CTC’s 2019-20 season, except COVID did that, will follow for nine weeks fr0m April 27-June 27.

During the fall, CTC will make two previous productions available digitally, “Last Stop on Market Street” and “Corduroy.” Dates haven’t yet been announced. A streaming partnership with multiple theaters across the country will take place in August, with details to come.

New plays are in the works with artists including Ifa Bayeza (a co-commission with Penumbra), Lloyd Suh and Larissa FastHorse, so new plays and musicals will be ready when CTC returns to producing.

Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius said in a statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on CTC, as we had to suspend and postpone over 160 performances this past spring and summer.” The company’s annual gala fundraising event, the Curtain Call Ball, will be moved to a virtual format and will be free for all attendees, with a focus on the healing and transformative power of theater. It will take place on Sept. 12, with more details to follow.

Because of these and other changes, CTC’s annual budget for the 2020-21 season will be reduced by 50 percent, from $13 million to $6.5 million. The company will eliminate 15 full-time positions, furlough 27 full-time and nearly all part-time positions, and institute a two-week furlough for the remaining 28 staff members. Both Brosius and Managing Director Kimberly Motes will take a 24 percent pay cut.

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Mellon Foundation announces new focus on social justice

The strategic shift has been two years in the making, but it feels utterly in the moment. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities, announced last week that it will prioritize social justice in all of its grantmaking.

Poet Elizabeth Alexander, Mellon Foundation president since Feb. 2018, told Artnet News, “There won’t be a penny that is going out the door that is not contributing to a more fair, more just, more beautiful society.”

Elizabeth Alexander
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Elizabeth Alexander
Don’t panic. Mellon will still support the arts with the power of its approximately $6.5 billion endowment. In mid-June, it announced it would add $200 million in grantmaking to the $300 million already planned for 2020 for emergency support to nonprofits in higher education, the arts and humanities.

On the same day Mellon went public with its new strategy, it also announced the Million Book Project, which will bring large, curated collections of books to prisons and juvenile detention centers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. The books will include poetry, literature, history and social thought.

“At Mellon, we believe in the power of the humanities and the arts to facilitate a deeper understanding of the richness of human experience,” Alexander said in a statement. “Now, we urgently ask the question, ‘What does it mean to pursue social justice through the humanities and the arts?’ ”

Applicants seeking funding will need to ask themselves, “How will the work I want to do – the work I want Mellon to help support – contribute to a more just and fair society?”

More money news

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the 855 nonprofit arts organizations recommended for direct funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Grants of $50,000 will go to 846 arts organizations, and nine local arts agencies will each receive $250,000 to award to arts organizations in their area.

Of the $45 million in direct assistance available nationally through CARES, $1.25 million will go to these 25 organizations in Minnesota: Watermark Art Center (Bemidji); Artistry (Bloomington); Katha Dance Theatre (Crystal); Mankato Symphony Orchestra (Mankato); Cantus, Juxtaposition Arts, Midway Contemporary Art, Milkweed Editions, Minnesota Opera, Mixed Blood, Northern Clay Center, Pillsbury House Theatre and Ragamala Dance Company (all Minneapolis); Anderson Center (Red Wing); College of Saint Benedict (Saint Joseph); American Composers Forum, ANEW BAM, FilmNorth, FORECAST Public Artworks, In Progress, Mizna, Penumbra Theatre and Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (all St. Paul); Franconia Sculpture Park (Shafer) and Brownbody (Vadnais Heights).

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Midway Contemporary Art has secured $100,000 in funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, to be made available as $10,000 Visual Arts Fund (VAF) Community Relief Grants for artist-organized projects. This is on top of the VAF Emergency Relief Grants awarded in May to 60 Twin Cities artists suffering economic losses due to the pandemic and shutdown. The new grants will go to 10 projects that serve artists and communities in north Minneapolis and areas of south Minneapolis and St. Paul. Priority will be given to projects with Black, Indigenous, and POC-led organizers.

Kenny Broberg
American Pianists Association
Kenny Broberg
Pianist and Minnesota native Kenny Broberg made a splash in February 2018 when he subbed for André Watts at a weekend of Minnesota Orchestra subscription concerts, playing Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto. Watts had the flu; Broberg was 23 at the time and rehearsed with the orchestra once. In mid-June of this year, Broberg was one of five finalists for the American Pianist Awards. COVID made the normal competition process impossible, and all five finalists were basically out of work. So APA gave each of them, including Broberg, a $50,000 cash prize. All five will have the chance to compete next year for the icing on the cake: two years of career assistance, publicity, performance engagements, an artist-in-residence post and a recording contract with Steinway’s label. BTW the winner of the 2019 award was Emmet Cohen, a jazz pianist who has performed often in the Twin Cities.

After giving away $1,050,000, mostly in $500 grants, to support 2,131 artists, creative workers and culture bearers, Springboard for the Arts has paused new applications to its Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund. Plans are to relaunch a new version of the program in August.

The picks

Left to right: Tom Lieberman, Prudence Johnson, and Tim Sparks
Courtesy of Crooners
Rio Nido, left to right: Tom Lieberman, Prudence Johnson, and Tim Sparks
Now that Crooners is up and running, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival’s Jazz Fest Live events will move there to the club’s outdoor spaces. Fans will have the option to view the live stream for free on Crowdcast or buy a ticket and attend the show in person. Advance reservations are required and tickets are limited. Here’s the schedule for July: Thursday, July 9, 7 p.m.: Rio Nido. Thursday, July 16, 7 p.m.: An Evening of Show Tunes with Tyler Michaels and Friends. Thursday, July 23, 5:30 p.m.: Laura Caviani. Thursday, July 30, 8:30 p.m.: Maud Hixson sings the songs of Jerome Kern. Links to the first two are here if you want to “reserve your seat.” In-person tickets are on the Crooners music calendar.

This month’s Midstream Reading Series will take place via Zoom on Thursday, July 9, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Hosted by Mimi Jennings, the writers will include Carolyn Holbrook, executive editor of the Saint Paul Almanac and author of the forthcoming essay collection “Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify”; poet Nicole Lynskey; poet/songwriter Jim Bohen; and poet Roy White. Have the Zoom client installed on your device ahead of time, and try to arrive a few minutes early. Limited to 100.

American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, is a classical theater with a 1,089-seat outdoor amphitheater that should be filled this time of year. Instead, having canceled its 2020 season in mid-May, the core acting company is presenting a live play reading series on Zoom called “Out of the Woods.” Recorded by PBS Wisconsin, the plays are posted as they become available and are free to view on demand through July 26. Currently online: “Chekhov One-Act Plays,” Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” Shaw’s “Arms and the Man” and Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” Next up: Carlyle Brown’s “Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been …” (July 10) and a world premiere reading of James DeVita’s “An Improbable Fiction,” about a group of Shakespeare’s actors, out of work because of a plague. FMI.

One of the things we were dying to see before COVID struck in March was Theater Latté Da’s “La Bohème.” It closed before it started – March 14 was opening night – and while the Royal Opera House’s take on Puccini’s great opera won’t be the same as Peter Rothstein’s, it’s still “La Bohème.” Reimagined by director Richard Jones, captured live on stage at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, it’s available to view for free through July 16 as part of the company’s “Our House to Your House” series. In the mood for ballet? Check out the Royal Ballet’s performance of Wayne McGregor’s “Woolf Works,” with music by Max Richter, through July 10.