News & Events

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The Art of Outer Space

Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 3:10 pm in News

A Visual Artist Residency in San Jose

Image of Vargas Suarez-Universal painting mural on the exterior of MACLA.  photo by Melina Ramirez

Image of Vargas Suarez-Universal painting mural on the exterior of MACLA (photo by Melina Ramirez)

MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana is presenting COSMOS CODEX, a commissioned, site-specific work by the artist Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL, May 2 – August 2, 2014.  This is MACLA’s first art exhibition dedicated to the relationship among art, astronomy and space research. This is also the artist’s first solo show in California, and the first time he has publicly exhibited sculptural objects.

Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL, who also goes by VSU, is primarily known for large-scale murals, paintings, drawings, and sound recordings. He sources American and Russian spaceflight programs, astronomy, and aerospace architecture to create commissioned and public artworks for museums, galleries, private and public spaces.

A major aspect of the exhibition is VSU’s dialogue with scientists and other experts at the NASA Ames Research Center, located in Silicon Valley, to gather information directly informing the artwork. Vargas-Suarez is exploring concepts for retrieving materials from Mars, asteroids and other orbiting bodies in our solar system, with the intention of allowing artists, architects and designers access to these materials to expand and explore possibilities that not available to them with traditional materials available here on Earth.

The exhibition installation in MACLA’s gallery is set up as a mock “clean room,” or spacecraft processing facility, typically found at NASA operations centers. The installation will include hand-intervened new digital prints, murals, paintings, sculptural objects, and a video produced in collaboration with artist Barbora Bereznakova.

MACLA, positioned in Silicon Valley – a fertile area for art, science, and innovation – is the ideal setting for COSMOS CODEX. San José, in particular, is a place where artists, scientists, thinkers, and other creative minds can find ways in which science can inform art and vice-versa. This is an opportunity for both disciplines to come together to create unique projects that engage a broad community of artists, scientists, students, and others to discuss questions that both art and science ask: What is our place in the universe? How do we conceptualize, idealize, or represent our position here? How can art present scientific data in compelling ways, and how can science be a source of inspiration for artists?

Further, this exhibition presents an exciting educational opportunity for the hundreds of middle school and high school-aged students that MACLA serves every year. MACLA hopes that the exhibition and the artist’s residency will encourage their students to engage with art and science in a different and meaningful way. VSU, who studied both astronomy and art history in college, and himself has been inspired by the data collected by space/research entities, including NASA, is an inspiration for Latino youth who may be considering studies and careers in the arts and sciences.

Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL is based in New York. He was born in Mexico City and raised in the Houston suburb of Clear Lake City adjacent to the NASA Johnson Space Center. He studied astronomy and art history at the University of Texas at Austin and moved to New York City in 1997.

MACLA and Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL thank the NASA Ames Research Center for its support.


APAP: Emerging Leadership Institute 2015

Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 3:06 pm in Opportunities

Now Accepting Applications: The Association of Performing Arts Presenters is now accepting applications for its Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI). ELI is an intensive three-day seminar that provides participants with many of the critical leadership skills they need now and in the future. A cohort of up to 25 emerging leaders is invited to participate in ELI, taking place in the days leading up to APAP|NYC 2015 in January 2015. The workshop is a collaborative process, where learning from each other is highly valued. The workshop is also a valuable and rare opportunity for each participant to reflect on and develop their ideas about leadership and on their own career.

Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday July 1, 2014. Applicants must be full-time staff of a current APAP/NPN Affiliate Member. To learn more and apply, visit ELI at APAP|365.”

E-Newsletter / May 2014

Posted: Friday, May 30th, 2014 at 10:58 am in E-Newsletters

Thank You for Support on GiveNOLA Day

Posted: Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 at 11:59 am in Events, News

The board and staff of NPN/VAN are overwhelmed with appreciation for the support we received from our friends across the country. We had 59 people donate for a total of $3437. The day was quite successful for New Orleans area nonprofits: 19,625 gifts were made for a total of $2,264,512 to more than 300 organizations. AfricaNOLA, a member of NPN’s Local Network, won the 4 PM Rock-Around-the-Clock $1000 lagniappe prize. All organizations will receive additional matching funds thanks to the generosity of the Greater New Orleans Foundation and its supporters.

Staff celebrates GiveNOLA Day: Will, Mimi, Thérèse, Stephanie, Carrie

Staff celebrates GiveNOLA Day: Will, Mimi, Thérèse, Stephanie, Carrie (photo by Anna)


Take Part! Today Only

GiveNOLA Day bannerThe Greater New Orleans Foundation is hosting GiveNOLA Day – a 24-hour, online giving event. The funds NPN/VAN raises through today’s online campaign will be eligible for a share of “lagniappe” – New Orleans’ way of saying “a little something extra.” We are asking for “a little something extra” from you to help NPN/VAN claim a share of the nearly $300,000 in lagniappe dollars, awards and prizes provided by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and generous sponsors.

How can you take part?

  • Make a tax deductible donation today to NPN/VAN through our page on the GiveNOLA Day website: Donations through the GiveNOLA Day link are counted towards NPN’s goal.
  • If you prefer the human touch, you can make your contribution by calling the Greater New Orleans Foundation at (504) 598-4663 where someone will process your donation.
  • Follow NPN and VAN today on Facebook: and Twitter @NPN_VAN
  • and spread the word by sharing NPN/VAN Facebook posts and Twitter feed from midnight to midnight — that’s central daylight time ya’ll.

It wouldn’t be a New Orleans celebration without music. Listen to the GiveNOLA Day jingle created by Allen Toussaint.

E-Newsletter / April 2014

Posted: Friday, April 25th, 2014 at 9:56 am in E-Newsletters

TCG Announces the Spark Leadership Program

Posted: Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 at 4:54 pm in Opportunities

SPARK Leadership Program

Theatre Communications Group (TCG) is now accepting applications for the SPARK Leadership Program. As part of TCG’s Leading the Charge : Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, this pilot program will create a more diverse theatre landscape by supporting the professional development of exceptional rising leaders of color who aim to take on executive leadership positions at U.S. not-for-profit theatres in the areas of artistic direction, management and/or producing.

Building on the success of the Young Leaders of Color program, SPARK will provide ten leaders who self-identify as leaders of color with the opportunity to participate in a curriculum that will focus on Knowledge & Skills-Building, Networking & Professional Connections and Self-Awareness & Inclusion Training.

Apply now through May 5, 2014, Noon ET 

Duke Foundation Announces
2014 Artists Awards

Posted: Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 at 4:22 pm in Field News, News

NEW YORK, NY, April 22, 2014 — The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced today the first-ever recipients of the Doris Duke Impact Awards and the third group of individuals to receive Doris Duke Artist Awards. Both awards are part of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, a special, ten-year initiative of the foundation to empower, invest in and celebrate artists by offering flexible, mult-year funding in response to financial challenges that are specific to the performing arts. Doris Duke Artist Award recipients receive $275,000, and Doris Duke Impact Award recipients receive $80,000. Since commencing in April 2012, the program has awarded a total of $18.1 million to artists in the fields of jazz, dance and theatre.

Among the 2014 award recipients are these artists who have received subsidies from the National Performance Network during their careers.  NPN applauds the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for its generous, ongoing support of its own programs and the recognition these awards gives to artists who contribute to the diverse artistic practice of the performing arts in the United States.

Please read more about the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards and see the full list of recipients by downloading the press release.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Skin Horse Theater Brings the Interstellar to the Stage in New Orleans

Posted: Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 8:39 pm in News

by Anna Henschel

Skin Horse Theater "Nocturnes (I-III)

photo by Jessica Chevis

In the spring of 2008, in the Campus Center at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, five juniors (three theater majors, a Gender and Sexuality Studies major, and a religion major) formally agreed that upon graduation from college they would move to a city that was not New York and start a theater company. A year later, in August 2009, with one original work under its belt (created partly to fulfill the theater senior project requirement) Skin Horse Theater’s Curiouser: An Historical Inaccuracy was accepted by the New Orleans Fringe Festival. The rest, as they say, is history.

Six years later, Nocturnes (I-III), a symphonic exploration of humanity’s relationship with space, has been our most challenging and most rewarding work to date. The five members of Skin Horse have always strived to experiment and devise collaboratively to bring big ideas to the stage. With each project, we challenge ourselves with both practical and creative goals, often articulated as questions, that guide our devising and creative process. With its premiere in 2013, Nocturnes became the most recent product of this process.

We first imagined Nocturnes three years ago, during a brainstorming session on future original works. Two broad themes emerged as the ideas on which we wanted to base our next projects. The first, dubbed Horror Play, was an exploration of whether theater has the ability to scare the way that film does. Was it possible? We did our research (mostly by watching The Shining, Night of the Living Dead, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and everything in between) and created SARAH for the 2011 New Orleans Fringe Festival that, to our delight, elicited screams from audience members at the climax and was reported to have contributed to at least two nightmares.

The other product of that brainstorming session was known for much of its life as Space Play. Born out of a fascination with the night sky and inspired by everyone from Jack Parsons to Gil Scott Heron, we took more than two years to explore how to show outer space on stage. From almost the beginning, Space Play existed in three parts, providing three perspectives on humanity’s relationship with the cosmos: a view from the ground, life in outer space, and the cosmos itself. In our devising process we played with these perspectives and how each contributed to the overall arc.

As part of Skin Horse’s devising practice, we are intentional about not assigning roles (stage manager, director, light designer, actor, etc.) for the first few months. This gives us the opportunity to create as peers, each taking turns leading rehearsal. Once the play begins to take shape, we discuss who is interested in what responsibilities and move forward from there. During these early stages of devising we try to bring to the table every idea, text, film, material, image, sound, website, or other media that excites us, whether seemingly related or not. Patterns in fabric, sources of light, songs from the 1930s, YouTube videos, and math lectures all become part of our conversation.

We devised, rehearsed, and experimented with Space Play for six months before having a work-in-progress showing at the Contemporary Arts Center in May 2013. The feedback from the active NOLA theater community was both supportive and helpfully critical. We went into summer giving the piece space to breathe and to figure out what we needed from it, and it from us.

We picked up the mantle again in August, with performance dates set for four weekends in November. With the help of our incredible cast (Shannon Flaherty, Matt Standley, Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth and Owen Ever), we pushed our ideas further for each of the three acts. Now called Nocturnes (I-III), the first act showed the history, culture, and context for humanity’s perceptions of the cosmos. The act was framed by the transcript of preparations for Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight, and then explored poets and songwriters alongside political speeches, the writings of Carl Sagan, and a job posting from an asteroid mining company. Act II imagined life in a space station and explored how to show zero gravity on stage. The result was part narrative, part dance, and almost silent throughout. Finally, in Act III, we drew inspiration from theatre artist Romeo Castelucci and visual artist James Turrell, among others, and strove to explore our ultimate challenge:  could outer space be depicted on stage? Challenge met.

Nocturnes began and ended with a man, standing alone on a platform, who looks up and finds solace in the stars. We found this connection to the viewer, inspired by Olaf Stapledon’s novel Star Maker, to be a clear entry point for our audiences, as well as a way to leave and bring ourselves back to Earth.

Nocturnes (I-III) opened November 7, 2013 and ran for four weeks, through the 2013 New Orleans Fringe Festival, at a repurposed warehouse on St. Claude Avenue, part of a fledgling arts district in New Orleans. The sound, capturing everything from the ambient noise of a space station to the cosmos itself, was designed by Brendan Connelly, the lights were designed by Skin Horse member Evan Spigelman, and the sets of the train station, mission control, and space station were designed and built by Phil Cramer. Nocturnes won two Big Easy Awards: Best Original Work (Devised) and Best Lighting Design.

Skin Horse Theater is a partner in NPN’s Local Network.

EmcArts: Proposals for New Rounds of Innovation Labs

Posted: Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 7:23 pm in Opportunities

EmcArts is pleased to partner with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) to deliver two more rounds of its pioneering Innovation Labs program to eight participating organizations from across the country in 2014 and 2015. These rounds are funded by a generous $1.58 million grant from DDCF.

Round 9 of the Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts:  Nonprofit producing and presenting organizations in theater, modern or contemporary dance, and jazz (including college – based presenters) are eligible to apply.

Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Arts Development Agencies:  This program is specifically for organizations that do not produce or present the performing arts, but rather provide services in support of the ongoing development of an arts discipline, its organizations and practitioners, or of a particular area of arts activities – collectively called arts development agencies.

Both Lab Rounds will run in parallel from July 2014 through April 2016, with up to four organizations participating in each Lab. Proposals will be accepted through Friday, May 30, 2014.

Download and read more:

American Dance Abroad: Rapid Response

Posted: Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 6:40 pm in Opportunities

Do you have an invitation to dance abroad?  American Dance Abroad, which provides services and resources to U.S.- based artists engaged in international exchange, have announced a project to provide support to U.S. artists with international invitations.

Rapid Response is a quick-turnaround assistance program to support transit costs for U.S. dance artists in response to international invitations. Unlike other programs, assistance can be applied to choreographic or teaching residencies as well as performances. Requests for support will be reviewed monthly. Requests received by the 15th of each month (EDT) will have a decision by the end of the same month.

Find out more here.


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