2020 Recipients

We are pleased to present the following grantees, organized by discipline.

Dance

The Pilot Dance Project (Houston, TX)
Untitled Stonewall Anniversary Dance Work ($10,000)

This is a community-based research project/performance piece that mines the history of the Houston LGBT community to create an archive of oral and visual narratives. In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots, artist jhon r.stronks will investigate the similarities and differences between the Stonewall Riot pioneers and the current cultural milieu that has witnessed the Pulse Orlando nightclub shooting and a wave of violence against transgender women of color. This historiography will serve as the material for an evening-length dance work that will be presented November 7–9, 2019 at Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston. The rehearsal and gestation period will be six months (July–December 2019) and will include various pop-up performances at local LGBTQ and arts events before and after the main performance.

Oklahoma City Ballet (Oklahoma City, OK)
A Little Peace ($15,000)

April 19, 2020 will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City that killed 168 adults and children. A Little Peace will pay homage to those who were lost, those who survived, and those who were forever changed. Artistic Director Robert Mills is working with the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation to coordinate the performance of the ballet with the ceremonies planned to take place the weekend of April 17–19, 2020. A Little Peace will also be performed as part of a Triple Bill production titled (E)motion(s) which also includes “Red Sweet” by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo and a world premiere by American choreographer Penny Saunders.

Following the weekend of performances of A Little Peace, there will be an outreach performance through Oklahoma City Ballet’s ArtsReach program. Nearly 4,000 students will be bussed to the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall to attend the performance. The students also receive an eight-week curriculum covering ballet and its history. These Oklahoma students are not old enough to have a memory of the OKC bombing. The curriculum will be updated to include information on the events of April 19, 1995 and how choreographers gain inspiration from meaningful historical events in order to create culturally impactful ballets.

Film/Media

Matthew Gossage (Austin, TX)
The Color of Place ($15,000)

Weaving four different time periods of history together, this project is a documentary film that uses cinema-vérité, artistically composed interviews, archival oral histories, re-enactments, animation, and drone cinematography to portray how race has played an integral role in Austin, Texas’ development. Moving beyond the usual historian talking-head documentary on a historical theme, the style of this film will alternate between meditative and suspenseful. By examining Austin in the late 1900s after reconstruction, early twentieth century, and the present day, it will demonstrate the ubiquitous nature of racial segregation in the US. Voices from marginalized communities past and present will comprise a large part of the film and will be filmed dynamically, with the characters moving and interacting in their neighborhoods.

The Texas After Violence Project is an organizational partner for this project. They are a restorative justice and multimedia documentary project focused on cultivating deeper understandings of the widespread impacts of interpersonal and state violence on individuals, families, and communities. Texas After Violence Project is committed to using oral histories and video to help society understand and heal from trauma.

Music

Daniel M. Ketter, on behalf of American Wild Ensemble (Springfield, MO)
Women’s Voices: The American Aviatrix ($13,400)

Women’s Voices creates opportunities for women composers to write new music celebrating the lives and work of women critical to the shaping of America’s past, present, and future. Performing these commissioned works in communities and locations that are meaningful to the identity of the composers and subjects of these commissions, American Wild Ensemble celebrates the work of local composers and historical luminaries while inviting audiences to form a deeper connection with their own local history.

Two newly commissioned works will celebrate a pair of extraordinarily brave mid-American aviators who each broke barriers that inspired women throughout the twentieth century and beyond. The first composer, Ingrid Stölzel, will compose a work for the ensemble celebrating the life of Amelia Earhart, born in Atchison, Kansas. The second composer, Carolina Heredia, will write a piece inspired by Bessie Coleman. Raised in Texas, Coleman is the first female of African American and Native American descent to hold a pilot’s license. Each performance will be paired with a pre-concert outreach lecture presentation where audience members can hear directly from the composers and performers about the inspiration for their work on this project.

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE)
Nadia Botello’s Sound Performance and Residency ($15,000)

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts will support the production and premiere of a new experimental sound performance by San Antonio, Texas-based artist Nadia Botello. Bemis Center’s new Sound Art and Experimental Music Program offers three-month residencies to artists pushing the boundaries of sound, composition, voice, and music of all genres. Botello will be one of the first artists to participate in the organization’s new residency, open to national and international artists.

Botello will develop a new live performance based on studies of the water and organic matter in the Missouri River. This body of water, especially along the shores of Omaha, Council Bluffs, and Sioux City, has been a longstanding fascination of the artist because of the geography’s historic relationship with indigenous cultures and pressing issues of sovereignty, displacement, and the environment. Botello’s work allows the water to have a voice—sonifying the river in a way that is experimental and eloquent. A supplemental workshop involving a “listening walk” on the banks of the Missouri will also take place, where local experts—including an Omaha historian, a water ecologist, and a water rights activist—will speak to issues surrounding the river. Both events will be free and open to the public.

Justin Sherburn, on behalf of Montopolis (Austin, TX)
The Living Coast ($15,000)

Montopolis has developed a unique process of creating live concerts inspired by specific ecosystems in Texas. The Living Coast will use the 500 miles of coastline between Port Arthur and Brownsville, one of the epicenters of the world’s fossil fuel industry as well as a diverse ecosystem, as a metaphor for the signature challenge facing humanity in this century: the conflict between industry and our changing environment. The Living Coast will premiere at the Stateside Theater in Austin, Texas in August 2019 and will tour the Mid-America region through spring 2020. The touring group includes the seven Montopolis musicians, a tour manager, and a climate scientist. The climate scientist will be responsible for answering questions and sharing information about climate change before and after each performance. The Living Coast musical score will feature the Montopolis touring group (violin, cello, trumpet, piano, guitar, bass, and drums).

Theater

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective (St. Louis, MO)
The WHY of MY City ($7,000)

The WHY of MY City is an artistic commission designed to raise awareness on gun violence prevention and rebuild civic pride for St. Louis, MO, which has neighborhoods that are reeling from gun violence. A new work by African American artists will explore why citizens do and should care about their neighborhoods, even as outsiders might see the same city blocks as uninhabitable. Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective is working collaboratively to create an approach to public health issues affecting Missouri’s African American urban youth. The Collective brings the arts to the forefront through a unique form of “urban storytelling” that includes rhythm, rap and word to attract attention, build excitement, and communicate key concepts from public safety and health professionals to the public.

Professional artists work alongside dedicated African American youth, ages 16–24 years old. Saint Louis Story Stitchers works in collaboration with the City of St. Louis Department of Health to identify key concepts that will help youth to stay healthy and avoid guns and gangs. The works will debut at the 41st St. Louis Storytelling Festival in 2020 and become a consistent part of the Story Stitchers’ live performance repertoire.

Opera Kansas (Wichita, KS)
Mr. Twister and the Tale of Tornado Alley ($5,000)

Opera Kansas will premiere a new opera, Mr. Twister and the Tale of Tornado Alley, in spring 2020 that will then serve as programming for OPERAtion Education. Mr. Twister tells the tale of a family reunion between the North Wind and the South Wind as observed by a tornado chaser, Mr. Twister, and his grandson. The story weaves together the science behind the formation of tornadoes and instruction on severe weather safety. Told via colorful characters, memorable melody, and approachable meteorological facts, this tale will appeal to a wide audience and may save lives in the region, known as Tornado Alley. In addition to the premiere weekend of events, Opera Kansas will make Mr. Twister the feature program for our OPERAtion Education program for spring 2020 outreach. For more than twenty years, Opera Kansas has been taking opera into the local school districts to educate students about various topics and general music appreciation.

TheatreSquared (Fayetteville, AR)
2020 Arkansas New Play Festival ($15,000)

TheatreSquared (T2) will engage more than thirty local and regional professional theatre artists as part of the 2020 Arkansas New Play Festival (ANPF)—the state’s only dedicated professional laboratory for the development of new plays. TheatreSquared presents two full weekends of performances, including four staged readings and a fully produced workshop premiere, in Fayetteville and Bentonville. In addition to work by professional playwrights, T2 produces a showcase of ten-minute plays written by Arkansas high school students and features an original devised work by LatinX Theatre Project. With expanded capacity for artistic activities and community outreach, T2 has the opportunity to take the Festival to a new level and set the stage for the next decade. For the 2020 festival, T2 will also partner with The Momentary, a new contemporary arts venue under development in Bentonville as a satellite of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Bridging the opening of two new, remarkable arts facilities—and celebrating the creation of works by mid-American artists—the 2020 Arkansas New Play Festival presents an opportunity to draw national attention to the remarkable artists-in-residence and original work in this part of the country.

Creative Waco (Waco, TX)
Giant Puppets on Parade ($10,000)

This project represents a brand new approach to bringing the delight, innovation, and interactivity of the arts right into the heart of the Waco community by engaging a group of professional artists to work with community groups to create five giant parade puppets. Not only will this be a powerful representation of the vitality that the arts bring, but it will also engage professional artists with grassroots community groups, forging new working relationships and sparking further initiatives.

While Waco is becoming a cultural destination (it is currently ranked USA’s #2 “destination on the rise” by TripAdviser), its once-legendary parades have lost much of their vibrancy and charm. Creative Waco will assemble a team of professional artists: costume and set designers, innovative young puppeteers, a film-maker, and technicians from the local maker space to work with community groups, students, and non-profits. Together, they will participate in and document workshops to create and learn to operate a group of at least five giant parade puppets made from up-cycled materials. The parade puppets will be featured in parades, festivals, and other community events. They will represent diverse community groups, promote greater interactivity at events, and serve to bring together professional artists with grassroots community and neighborhood groups to spark ideas, forge new creative relationships, and learn from each other.

Visual

Steve Parker (Austin, TX)
Listening Objects ($15,000)

Listening Objects uses sculpture, performance, and education to engage the public in the art of listening. At the heart of this project is the creation of interactive sound sculptures that facilitate the simple, yet overlooked, act of focused listening. These objects will be experienced by people of all ages and will be exhibited outdoors during Artosphere: Arkansas’ annual Art + Nature festival. These sculptures will be accompanied by an illustrated book of listening games, a series of public workshops, and live performances.

This project is inspired by the practice of Deep Listening, developed by the late composer Pauline Oliveros. The work will be exhibited outdoors in several locations including the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art (Bentonville), the Walton Arts Center (Fayetteville), and the Scott Family Amazeum (Bentonville).

Oklahoma Contemporary (Oklahoma City, OK)
Flight: An Immersive Experience of the Tulsa Race Massacre ($15,000)

The 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 will be observed in 2021 with a series of events in Tulsa. With Flight, Crystal Z Campbell and Oklahoma Contemporary anticipate these events by one year and extend the conversation to Oklahoma City, and to the expected local and national audience that will attend or read about Oklahoma Contemporary’s inaugural exhibition. Flight will be a large-scale, site-specific work. Campbell’s vision is to create an immersive environment of sights, sounds, and smells that will transport audiences to Tulsa’s historical Black Wall Street district on May 31 and June 1, 1921, and make the events of those days real and visceral.

Shown in a contained space, Campbell’s film will provide an immersive environment that Campbell will complete with light effects and (potentially) the smell of burning wood. Flight will be as part of Oklahoma Contemporary’s Grand Opening events in November 2019 and include a range of free public activities that will bring Oklahomans to the arts campus throughout this inaugural exhibition’s run through June 2020.

Ginna Dowling (Norman, OK)
The Language of Hope and Courage ($15,000)

The Language of Hope and Courage is a series of story installations created by artist Ginna Dowling in collaboration with The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City and its patients, designed to empower these children and bring joy and comfort to them and their families. During workshops, Dowling will facilitate a creative process where participants create self-representational identity symbols, and add them to collaborative pop-up installations. The individual images will then be remastered into vinyl, and placed in larger-than-life story installations that will cover the walls and windows of each correlating outreach area in the Children’s Hospital.

(Pictured: previous Innovations grantee St. Louis Artworks)