Film academy's museum gets $25,000 grant from the NEA

Motion picture academy's museum gets its first government grant -- $25,000 from NEA

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has landed its first government grant -- $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to help propel the planning of its core exhibit on film history.

A description of the grant from the NEA, the federal government’s arts grant-making agency, said the money would help move planning forward after preliminary brainstorming that began early last year on the film academy's museum.

The exhibit’s “guiding principle” will be showing how art and science have combined to shape moviemaking and its history, a museum spokeswoman said. Construction hasn’t begun yet on the $300-million museum, which is expected to open toward the end of 2017 next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The NEA grants announced Wednesday total $74.3 million nationwide, $4.8 million in California and $1.5 million in Los Angeles County, where the NEA funded 50 projects.

Some grants in Southern California are for projects involving established artists, including mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, noted video artist Bill Viola, Broadway director-choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Tony-winning librettist-lyricist Richard Maltby Jr.

The biggest grant in L.A., $90,000 to the Los Angeles County Office of Education, aims to help regular elementary school teachers across the county become stars in the classroom when it comes to incorporating the arts into lessons in a variety of subjects. The theory is that students will learn about the arts while the arts are enlivening classes in reading, history and even math and science.

The NEA money augments a three-year, $1.1-million commitment from Los Angeles County government to fund the new initiative, which is known as TEAL (Technology Enhanced Arts Learning).

The program will be led by art coaches in each participating school district who’ll work face-to-face with general classroom teachers. The other main feature is a website teachers can turn to for ideas and examples that have proved successful.

Denise Grande, director of arts education for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, said the program was being tested in three districts in the county, using online teaching materials from LACMA. Starting in the fall, it will be rolled out in 60 districts, with music, dance, theater and media arts eventually joining visual art in an arsenal of arts-based teaching tools.

The resurgent San Diego Opera landed a $30,000 grant for its May 2016 staging of “Great Scott,” a new comic opera by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally about an opera company -- and a diva played by Von Stade -- trying to command attention while their city is consumed by a perfect storm of sports mania: hosting a Super Bowl in which the home team is one of the competitors. The co-producer, Dallas Opera, will stage the premiere Oct. 30, take Halloween off, then try to go head-to-head with the Cowboys hosting the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 1.

The Pasadena Playhouse will receive $30,000 for its June 7 American premiere of “Waterfall,” a musical with Broadway ambitions that Maltby and composer David Shire have based on a 1937 novel by Thai author Sriburapha.

Taylor-Corbett, director-choreographer of the 1999 Broadway musical “Swing!,” will return to the Autry National Center of the American West for the as-yet unscheduled world premiere of “Distant Thunder,” co-written with her son, Shaun Taylor-Corbett. The NEA is providing $30,000 for further development of the musical about contemporary Native Americans, which received a workshop staging at the Autry in 2012. The younger Taylor-Corbett is a member of the Blackfoot tribe, on whose lands in Montana the story unfolds.

Viola’s video art will enter the world of video gaming with “The Night Journey,” which he’s directing and developing with Tracy Fullerton, head of USC’s Game Innovation Lab. No shoot-'em-ups here -- the $25,000 from the NEA will go toward a game its makers have described as “a journey to enlightenment” that draws inspiration from mystical spiritual seekers such as  Persian poet Rumi, Roman philosopher Plotinus and Spanish cleric St. John of the Cross.

Another of Fullerton’s projects, a video game based on Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” won a separate $40,000 grant from the NEA, to go with a previous $100,000 federal grant from its sister agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The NEA also has given $40,000 to  Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs for the rollout of L.A. Stage Advance, a new program with a double purpose: helping local performing arts companies develop new work that they can take on tour, and using those shows as attractions in L.A.’s far-flung array of city-owned theaters -- among them the Warner Grand in San Pedro, the Vision Theatre in Leimert Park, the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood, the Madrid Theatre in Canoga Park and the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Mid-City.

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