NPN Announces 2018 Creation & Development Fund Awards

June 28, 2018  •  7 minute read

NEW ORLEANS (June 29, 2018) – The National Performance Network (NPN) announces its 2018 Creation & Development Fund Awards totaling $305,000 in support of 14 new artistic works across disciplines, geographies and cultures. The selected artists reflect NPN’s commitments to equity and access through the arts.

The Creation & Development Fund supports the creation, development and mobility of new artistic work resulting in live experiential exchange between artists and community. The Fund provides a framework for relationships to develop over time among diverse artists, arts organizations and communities, with co-commissioners from across the country and Mexico. Through the investment of commissioning funds from arts organizations and NPN direct subsidies, each project is eligible for multilevel support.

Forty-two arts organizations from Kahului, HI to Birmingham, AL will host the projects as co-commissioners, which will result in at least 52 paid artist engagements over the next three years. NPN support will be leveraged to bring in $1.3 million dollars in additional support to these projects.

Unit Souzou performance

Projects range from a documentary performance challenging notions of borders and bordering; an evolving slow-motion party/installation/teach-in that maps a new approach to old questions about identity; a collaborative performance combining jazz an puppetry and developed in community with an Emerging Puppeteers of Color Program and the reenactment of a profound journey through the criminal justice system that includes music, dance, and spoken word.

The Creation and Development Fund is made possible with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency) and Commissioners. To learn more about National Performance Network and its subsidy programs, visit

2018 Creation & Development Fund Recipients

Abby Zbikowski/Abby Z and the New Utility – New York, NY – Radioactive Practice
Commissioners: New York Live Arts, New York, NY; Dance Place, Washington, DC; American Dance Festival, Durham, NC; Wexner Center for the Performing Arts, Columbus, OH

Radioactive Practice is a new work by Juried Bessie award winning Illinois-based choreographer Abby Zbikowski, commissioned by New York Live Arts and set to premiere during their 2019-20 Season with additional support from the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. Based on Zbikowski’s rigorous physical practice that processes diverse aesthetic and cultural information, this work pushes a team of ten dancers from the United States, Taiwan, Senegal and Canada past perceived physical limits and conventions of established dance forms.

Andresia “Real” Moseley – Auburndale, FL – Five Black Women
Commissioners: Art2Action, Inc., Tampa, FL; ASU Gammage, Tempe, AZ

Five Black Women is a one-woman show that reveals the lives distinctively different Black women characters and their struggles with identity, sexuality and religion. Through poetry, song and DJ mixes, it reveals more than just the stories of diverse black women, but the struggle to identify as a human in this complex world. It’s about the hood, the church, the club and the stage. What happens when we let go…and how do we find acceptance for who we really are? What happens when circumstances push you, what’s too far, and how do we find our way back?

Edisa Weeks / DELIRIOUS Dances – Brooklyn, NY – THREE RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness
Commissioners: 651 ARTS, Brooklyn, NY; Mount Tremper Arts, Mount Tremper, NY; Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Brooklyn, NY; Kelly Strayhorn Theater Pittsburgh, PA

THREE RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness involves three performance rituals (rites) that integrate movement, live music, text, video and art installations to examine what these rights mean; how the rights have changed (or not changed) since the forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence; and in the age of Citizen’s United, Black Lives Matter, NAFTA, the Patriot Act, DACA, and the longest war in American history, how and for whom are these rights protected and promoted, and how they manifest in the body. THREE RITES uses interdisciplinary performance to spark discussions about urgent issues in American society today.

Jumatatu Poe – Philadelphia, PA – Let ‘Im Move You: This is a Formation
Co-commissioners: Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA; Abron Arts Center, New York, NY; BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Bronx, NY; Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston, ME; Dance Place, Washington, DC; Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH PICA, Portland, OR; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL

Let ‘im Move You: This is a Formation is a new dance work by Philadelphia-based choreographer jumatatu m. poe and Dallas-based J-Sette artist Jermone “Donte” Beacham that unites Black dancers of various genders addressing choreographic, emotional, and spiritual forms present within J-Sette and other Black queer dance vocabularies. With live-constructed music and media design, Formation confronts historic imaginations and limitations of art institutions centering white aesthetics, and outdoor spaces within predominantly Black neighborhoods.

KJ Sanchez – Austin, TX – Matanza (The Killing)
Commissioners: Fusebox Festival, Austin, TX; California Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley, CA

Matanza (The Killing) is a durational performance based on the New Mexican ritual of the Matanza, created by award-winning playwright and director KJ Sanchez. Mining Sanchez’s research into her family’s New Mexican ancestry and history, this 24-hour performance tells the story of the Spanish Crown granting 250,000 acres to thirty families (Sanchez’s ancestors) and a feud that broke out over the rights to the land, which tore the community and her family apart. Sanchez combines the matanza, a social ritual in Hispanic culture, with a personal performance about family, community, and land-rights, which features cooking, feasting, storytelling, and song.

Marike Splint – Los Angeles, CA – On The Other Side
Commissioners: Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA; Art and Design Research Incubator at Penn State, University Park, PA

On the Other Side is a new documentary performance created by Marike Splint, challenging notions of borders and bordering in our present era. The project questions and challenges our growing tendency to draw these territorial lines and borders. The US/Mexico border is a clear starting point, but the performance aims to unpack the act of bordering beyond current flashpoints.

Miguel Gutierrez – Brooklyn, NY – This Bridge Called My Ass
Commissioners: PICA, Portland, OR; Kelly Strayhorn Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA; The Chocolate Factory Theatre, Long Island City, NY; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston, ME; Walker Art Center; Minneapolis, MN

This Bridge Called My Ass is a new evening-length dance/performance by Miguel Gutierrez for a group of five Latinx performers, with Stephanie Acosta as dramaturg. Part slow-motion party, part evolving installation, part embodied seminar/teach-in taught by futuristic (Spanish speaking) survivalists, the piece looks at longstanding tensions between form and content to map a new, irreverent approach to old questions about what constitutes identity politics and the avant garde. How do experimental artists of color, specifically “brown” artists, navigate terrain that is dominated by legacies of predominantly white artists? What can “brown” do to complicate inherited ideas about identity and abstraction?

Morgan Thorson – Minneapolis, MN – Public Love
Commissioners: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI

Public Love (PL) is a dance intervention redefining power through physical tenderness and the human need for touch—both attributes of a kind of love. Positioning the dancing body as the generative center, choreography is composed from the inside out—from the vital, intimate experience of moving, not from an exterior position of seeing. From this location, virtuosity is mediated on the ensembles’ terms, disrupting hierarchical modes of power within dance creation itself. Transforming as it is re-situated, PL offers a rhizomatic, tactile structure that churns in a choreography of affection—as queer alternatives to might and control.

Myra Su and Tatsu Aoki – Chicago, IL – Fault Lines and Expanding Forms
Commissioners: Links Hall, Chicago, IL; Asian Improv aRts, San Francisco, CA

Links Hall and Asian Improv aRts are co-commissioning a collaborative performance by world renowned Jazz musician Tatsu Aoki, and accomplished shadow puppet artist/Manual Cinema company member Myra Su. This work will be developed in community with the artists participating in our Emerging POC (puppeteers of color) Program and it will premier during the January 2019 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

Paul S. Flores – San Francisco, CA – We Have Iré
Commissioners: Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Bronx, NY; Miami Light Project, Miami, FL; GALA Hispanic Theatre, Washington, DC; MECA, Houston, TX; MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, San Jose, CA; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA

A new multidisciplinary theater work by award-winning poet, performance artist and playwright Paul S. Flores, We Have Iré explores the lives of Afro-Cuban and Cuban-American transnational artists living in the United States, and their influence on and experience with American culture. Directed by Rosalba Rolón of Pregones Theater, with live music composition by Yosvany Terry and Dj Leydis, and choreography by Ramon Ramos Alayo, We Have Iré also looks at the challenges of being an immigrant artist and the triumph of establishing one’s voice in a new country.

RMwase Cultural Projects – New Orleans, LA – VESSELS
Commissioners: Junebug Productions, New Orleans, LA; Annenberg Center for the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

VESSELS is a seven-woman harmonic meditation on the transcendental possibilities of song during the Middle Passage. Experienced within an interactive and acoustically rich sculptural environment that invokes those infamous ships, this interdisciplinary ritual performance explores singing as a survival tool and asks, “What does freedom sound like in a space of confinement?” VESSELS will premier in 2018 on a floating barge in New Orleans and then tour to East Coast port cities that were active during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Roberta Uno and Dahlak Brathwaite – San Francisco, CA – Try/Step/Trip
Commissioners: Youth Speaks, Inc., San Francisco, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL; Miami Light Project, Miami, FL; Center for New Performance, CALARTS, Valencia, CA; Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA

Try/Step/Trip is a dramatic reenactment of a profound journey through the criminal justice system. Through spoken word, live music, dance and character monologues, the devised work will chronicle the process of the playwright’s own criminalization along with his struggle to be vindicated in the eyes of the law and society. The piece works through the personal shame of criminal stigmatization to examine the factors – both internal and external – that has misplaced him and the black male body in what appears as a cultural rite of passage.

Rosy Simas – Minneapolis, MN – Weave
Commissioners: Dance Place, Washington, DC; Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI; Alabama Dance Council, Birmingham, AL PA’I Arts & Culture Center, Honolulu, HI

Native choreographer Rosy Simas (Seneca) creates Weave, a dance project drawn from the interwoven and interdependent nature of our world. In Weave, individual and embodied stories are the vibrant threads that mesh in a performance woven of story, dance, moving image, and quadrophonic sound.

Unit Souzou – Portland, OR – A Constant State of Otherness
Commissioners: The Myrna Loy, Helena, MT; Caldera Arts, Sisters, OR; Dance Place, Washington, DC; Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA

The Constant State of Otherness is a multi-layered performance and community engagement project exploring the isolation and displacement that comes from not having an easy sense of home. This project focuses on the conversational, narrative, and collaborative art of Taiko drumming to create artistic and social dialogs that will question, challenge and upheave the mainstream narrative of identity and belonging, especially within this current American landscape.