Good news for the new year

The recent holiday season included the arrival of some very good news for the Silvermine Arts Center, which we featured in WAG’s June 2013 “Open Road” issue.

The venerable arts center, a hidden gem nestled in a mostly residential section of New Canaan, has been tapped to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

NEA chairman Jane Chu recently announced that Silvermine is one of more than 900 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive one of its Art Works Grants, a $25,000 award “to support programming at the intersection of performance and the visual arts.”

Silvermine, known perhaps first for its visual-arts offerings, has also been home to innovative dance, theater and musical programming. Over its more than 90 years, Silvermine has presented artists ranging from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to the New York Philharmonic.

Since her arrival as executive director in 2010, Leslee Asch has been committed to strengthening Silvermine’s performing-arts offerings – an idea that she underscored in comments that accompanied the announcement.

“Performance that integrates the visual arts is very close to my heart,” says Asch, who worked for the Jim Henson Company for 20 years, serving as executive director of the Jim Henson Foundation and producing director of the Henson International Festivals of Puppet Theater.

When Asch arrived at Silvermine, a popular chamber music series had recently ended.

“We took it in a new direction, bringing back music, but also providing a broader range of media and creating a platform for the integration of the performing and visual arts.”

The NEA support in 2015 will enable Silvermine to present four events:

  • A concert by Caladh Nua, a band of five versatile young musicians from Ireland that brings an innovative contemporary flair to traditional Irish music. March 13.
  • A performance by Miwa Matreyek, who uses animation, projection and her own shadows to create lyric works in which film and performance entwine. April 11.
  • A new work by Bridgman/Packer Dance that will expand its integration of live performance and video technology. This piece will be created in collaboration with filmmaker Peter Bobrow and was co-commissioned through the National Performance Network. Sept. 11 and 12.
  • Street-style choreography and percussion by Los Angeles-based Street Beat’s Parkour Percussion, which will add high energy to Silvermine’s annual free ArtsFest, marking its fifth anniversary this year. Sept. 20.

All of the artists will discuss their groundbreaking works with audiences and several will participate in educational outreach programs for area schools, with a special focus on under-resourced students.

For Asch, the NEA award is “a recognition of the caliber of the work we hope to continue to present. We had already received support from the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation/Southern Exposures,” Asch says. “This is a major step for us to receive national recognition and support.”

For more, visit silvermineart.org.—Mary Shustack

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