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Bricolage To Use First NEA Grant To Take Patrons 'Underground' At Carnegie Museums

An immersive theater production will take visitors to places normally off-limits at the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. 

Downtown-based Bricolage received its first ever National Endowment for the Arts grant to help support the project.

Tami Dixon, producing artistic director, said the name "theater producton" is a misnomer; it’s not exactly a play.

“Traditional theater creates a separation between the artist and the audience,” said Dixon. “We want to weave them together and have them form a relationship in real time in an intimate and personalized experience so you leave altered, which we think is the purpose of art.”

The collaboration will be part of the Carnegie Nexus Initiative, available for guests to explore Oct. 13 through Nov. 19.

According to the grant announcement, the $10,000 award will fund four fields of inquiry: authority, authenticity, accessibility and authorship and agency.

"By taking into account the vast inventory of museum collections, confronting core questions, and transgressing front-of-house/back-of-house boundaries, the work is intended to set new standards for excellence and engagement in the theater and museum fields," grant materials said.

Expect to go "inside, underneath and all around the museums," Dixon said. "You will go into traditional spaces, and then you will also get a peak behind the scenes.”

The award was part of a national spring round of grants announced this month.

Other Pittsburgh-area recipients and projects include:

City of Asylum -- $30,000 -- To support Jazz Poetry Month. Each September, American jazz artists and poets from around the world will perform together and individually in an accessible community setting. The International Writing Program of the University of Iowa will assist in curating the international poets. All performances will be free.

New Hazlett Center for the Performing Arts -- $10,000 -- To support the Community Supported Art performance series and educational matinee program. Emerging artists in the performing arts will be provided with a stipend, rehearsal and performance space, technical support, marketing services and mentoring to create and present new work. Artists also will be provided with extensive documentation of their creation process, including audio-visual recordings of rehearsals, pre-show interviews, post-show audience feedback and critiques written by artists, journalists, and others.

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership -- $25,000 -- To support the commissioning of a temporary public art installation for the Market Square Public Art Program. The program, developed in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh and the Office of Public Art, will commission new work by artist Pablo Valbuena for installation in downtown Pittsburgh. It is anticipated that the artist's work will include some interactive elements incorporating sound or light to invigorate the square. Outreach will include educational talks, events and tours.

Pittsburgh Glass Center, Inc. -- $20,000 -- To support an artists-in-residence program. Created to bridge the gap between glass and other media, the program will invite artists who work outside the medium of glass to develop new work with assistance from a master glass artist. Resident artists selected by a committee of curators and artists will present lectures, workshops and demonstrations as part of an educational outreach effort. The residencies will culminate in an exhibition.

Society for Contemporary Craft -- $20,000 -- To support an exhibition that will explore artists' responses to issues of shelter. Artists such as Seth Clark, Holly Grace and Tali Weinberg will address the following: "Asylum" will focus on the plight of refugees and immigrants, as well as disaster relief; "Home" will examine notions of home, homelessness, ownership and personal agency; "Place" will consider ideas of gentrification, neighborhood identity, development, population growth and decline and opportunities for creative placemaking; and "Sanctuary" will explore ideas of personal space and the body as refuge. Partnerships with community housing and advocacy organizations will assist with outreach and a curriculum guide and an exhibition catalog will accompany the exhibition, as well as lectures, artist demonstrations, teacher training workshops and hands-on art making.

Games for Change, or G4C, in New York is using part of a $45,000 grant to bring a public digital arcade to Pittsburgh as part of a nationwide tour.

The Pittsburgh Opera is slated to premiere "Bhutto" by composer Mohammed Fairouz in 2019 via a $15,000 grant from Beth Morrison Projects in Brooklyn.

Michigan Opera Theatre is co-producing an homage to legendary Negro League baseball catcher Josh Gibson with the Pittsburgh Opera for spring 2018.

The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts in Boulder was awarded $25,000 to support exhibitions, catalogues and educational programming associated with the national conference for the ceramic arts in Pittsburgh.

Photo: Desiree Williams/Flickr