Leading off the new year with good news: an arts success story from the Paradox Players and grants for Austin artists from the NEA.
New Year's Cleanups
Nothing starts the new year right like cleaning up the messes you made in the old year.
For starters, in my haste to praise the Rude Mechs' re-creation of Requiem for Tesla in my Top 10 list for 2003, I misidentified the actor who played the titular inventor. Robert Newell was the chap who generated all the electricity in that show, not Robert Pierson, who is a fine actor in his own right, as proven most recently in the closing monologue of 300 Plays About Vladimir Putin, produced by the Rudes in December 2003. From one Robert to two others, my apologies.
Secondly, while the State Theater Company has been affected by the economy, it isn't quite down for the count in the way I characterized it in my summation of the year ("End of an Arts Era," Jan. 2, 2004). No layoffs have yet taken place, and the status of the remaining shows in the season (Steve Moore's Nightswim and Two Pianos, Four Hands) is still under discussion. It's possible that they may be shifted to the fall to open the company's 2004-05 season. More details as they are finalized.
Arts Success Stories, Vol. 1
On to cheerier news:
In response to my request for arts success stories came this news from the Paradox Players, a 4-year-old community theatre company based in the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin. The Players' November run of 12 Angry Jurors ended $3,500 in the black -- a not inconsiderable feat given the brevity of the run (two weeks), size of the house (100 seats), and low cost of the tickets ($10). Half of the surplus from the show was donated to the church, which the company routinely does in exchange for the rehearsal and performance space the church provides. So far, the company has always donated in excess of $2,000 to the church each year; for fiscal year 2003, for example, that amount was $2,800. The remainder of the profits is channeled back into the company for the purchase of lights, chairs, and like amenities for the improvement of their shows. While it is based in a church, the company is open to all members of the community. The next Paradox Players production will be Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers, opening on Feb. 14. That will be followed by a double bill premiere, Head Over Heels and Hook, Line, and Sinker, by Artistic Director Paullette MacDougal. For information, contact board President Maxine Barkan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 231-8536.
Other welcome financial news came in the form of grants to Austin artists from the National Endowment for the Arts. Among the 2004 grantees:
Texas Folklife Resources, which received $45,000 to fund 15 weeklong artistic residencies in Texas towns with populations under 10,000;
Center for Women & Their Work, which received $27,000 to support a series of solo exhibitions for young and emerging women artists of Texas;
Cinematexas, which received $15,000 to support the Eye+Ear Performance Festival, specifically appearances by artists who have not previously performed in Austin;
Dance Umbrella, which received $20,000 to support the presentation of dance events that will include residencies by artists, master classes, meet-the-artist events, lecture demonstrations, and dance workshops;
Rude Mechanicals, which received $20,000 to support the development and production of Stadium Devildare, a work about Evel Knievel created in collaboration with playwright Ruth Margraff; and
Salvage Vanguard Theater, which received $12,000 to support the development and production of a new musical, Genghis Khan, composed by Graham Reynolds with libretto by Jason Neulander.