The Nouveau Sud Circus Project, founded and directed by Associate Professor of Theatre CarlosAlexis Cruz, has received one of ten 2020 National Theater Project Awards given by the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA). Chosen from among 28 finalists, the award winners will receive Creation and Touring Grants, ranging from $90,000 to $125,000, which fund the development and national touring of new work. NEFA began conferring the annual awards in 2010.
"Nouveau Sud is thrilled to receive this grant," said Cruz. "It has been a beautiful journey thus far. From a company that started in the communities of Charlotte, to main stage original creations, to devising opening events for hotels and corporate entities, and now to be right on the cusp of national touring, our project has grown to be a company but has never abandoned our mission for social change and activism."
Nouveau Sud’s winning project is the contemporary circus work La Bestia. Through acrobatics, music, and spoken word, La Bestia addresses immigration and migration, a topic that Cruz and the company have been investigating since Nouveau Sud was established five years ago. La Bestia was a National Theater Project finalist last year, as well, and while it did not win a 2019 Creation and Touring grant, Nouveau Sud did receive a smaller NEFA grant last year and a $25,000 Celebrate Charlotte Arts grant from the Knight Foundation.
"Driven by the growing presence of Central Americans in Charlotte and triggered by the recent discoveries on the Calvary that is crossing Mexico for most immigrants, we embarked in a theatrical investigation with the goal of creating a circus theatre piece that would bring attention to the treacherous journey that some of our community members endure," Cruz said. "La Bestia is an interactive experience on and off the stage, incorporating site-specific pop-ups, community workshops, and post shows conversations. As we tell the story of these harrowing journeys, masks, acrobatics, and the ﬂying image of a train serve as guiding lights for our audiences while we create poetry through acrobatics and spoken word."
NEFA’s National Theater Project is made possible with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and with additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
“The range and quality of this year’s grant recipients is a testament to the tenacity of artists to make compelling art regardless of obstacles put before them,” said Susan Feder, program officer for Arts and Culture at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in a press release. “We look forward to coming together again to see these projects reach fruition, and are deeply grateful for the dedication and passion of the NEFA staff and panelists who selected from a highly competitive pool of ensembles.”