South Arts Receives $450,000 Grant to Build Modern Dance and Contemporary Ballet Audiences

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Atlanta – South Arts has received a grant of $450,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support their Dance Touring Initiative (DTI) through 2018. The initiative, launched in 2009, is building a broad and deep network of performing arts presenters throughout the South that can bring modern dance and contemporary ballet companies as part of their season for public performances and artist residencies. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as stated in their mission, “endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.”

“Our data showed that access to modern dance and contemporary ballet was declining throughout the South, especially outside our most major metropolitan areas,” explained Nikki Estes, South Arts’ program director for DTI. “We developed this initiative to engage new audiences and stakeholders across the region with these important artforms.”

Through DTI, two cohorts totaling 20 performing arts presenters in eight Southern states have been selected to receive training and support in all aspects of presenting modern dance. Participants in the two cohorts have traveled to dance festivals including Jacob’s Pillow and American Dance Festival, worked with specialists to gain deeper understanding of the wide artistic range of the artforms, and received subsidies to engage leading companies for performances and residencies. Together, the presenters have worked with companies such as David Dorfman Dance, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, River North Dance Chicago, and Lula Washington Dance Theatre, engaging over 33,000 people throughout the region with contemporary ballet and modern dance. A third cohort of up to 10 presenters will be selected in 2015.

“We are extremely grateful for this major support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,” said Suzette M. Surkamer, executive director of South Arts. “Their support allows us to ensure that DTI creates long-lasting and impactful changes throughout the region as we foster a network of colleagues with the experience and knowledge to develop new audiences.”

The roster of presenter participants to date includes:

  • Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
  • Appalachian State University – Office of Arts and Culture Programs, Boone, NC
  • The Arts Association of East Alabama, Opelika, AL
  • Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg, SC
  • City of Tarpon Springs – Tarpon Springs Cultural Treasures, Tarpon Springs, FL
  • Coker College – Department of Dance, Hartsville, SC
  • Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville, TN
  • East Carolina University – S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Center, Greenville, NC
  • Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center, Elizabethtown, KY
  • Glema Mahr Center for the Arts – Madisonville Community College, Madisonville, KY
  • Manship Theatre, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs / South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, Miami, FL
  • Mississippi State University Riley Center, Meridian, MS
  • North Carolina State University Center Stage, Raleigh, NC
  • Samford University – Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center, Birmingham, AL
  • St. John’s River State College – Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts, Orange Park, FL
  • Town of Huntingdon – The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, Huntingdon, TN
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington Presents, Wilmington, NC
  • University of Memphis – Department of Theater and Dance, Memphis, TN
  • University of Mississippi – The Ford Center, Oxford, MS


Contact: Ivan Schustak, Director of Communications and Development, (404) 874-7244 ext.29