National Endowment for the Arts Announces More Than $82 Million Awarded for Arts Projects

National Endowment for the Arts Announces More Than $82 Million Awarded for Arts Projects Nationwide

Current awards include $90,000 granted to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the largest grant awarded to an opera company in this grant cycle.


St. Louis, MO, June 15, 2017 - National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $90,000 to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for the two-act version of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s An American Soldier in the 2018 season. The opera is part of Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices Series, through which OTSL commissions new American opera on American themes. This $90,000 award is the largest amount that the NEA has earmarked for an American opera company in this grant cycle. In total, 36 grants were awarded in the field of opera. The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.


“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”


The NEA grant received by Opera Theatre in 2018 will fund the New Works, Bold Voices Series composition, a full-length version of An American Soldier, by critically acclaimed composer Huang Ruo and Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. The opera tells the story of Chinese-American Army Private Danny Chen, whose tragic death during his deployment in Afghanistan explores powerful themes of patriotism and belonging. Opera Theatre will bring this moving account to the 2018 festival season as a full, two-act performing version. A 60-minute version of the opera was commissioned by Washington National Opera and premiered there in 2014 as part of WNO’s American Opera Initiative.


“OTSL is so honored to receive support from the NEA for this production, which is part of our New Works, Bold Voices series,” said General Director Timothy O’Leary. “Thanks to the NEA’s generous grant, we’re able to collaborate with some of the most celebrated artists today to tell moving stories that resonate with diverse audiences.”


To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEASpring17. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to


About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of its 2017 Festival Season, Opera Theatre has presented 26 world premieres and 27 American premieres — which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by the Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries.  Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.


Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation.  Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Erie Mills, Jerry Hadley, Christine Brewer, Thomas Hampson, Sylvia McNair, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Dwayne Croft, Patricia Racette, Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee, Kelly Kaduce, and Jennifer Johnson Cano.  Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding the late Colin Graham.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council, with audience building programs supported by The Wallace Foundation.

Generous leadership support for the services of the St. Louis Symphony is provided by Jack C. Taylor and the Taylor family.