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Dayton Performing Arts Alliance Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Grant to Support Dayton Opera’s World Premiere of Finding Wright

DAYTON, OH (May 13, 2021) The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (DPAA) has received a $17,500 Grant for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to assist in the production of Dayton Opera’s World Premiere of Finding Wright. The DPAA’s project is one of a select number of recipients across America during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding.

“As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations to reengage fully with partners and audiences,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure.”

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the NEA for Dayton Opera’s Finding Wright,” said DPAA President and CEO Patricia McDonald. “This financial assistance will help us to bring to the stage this brand-new opera that tells a compelling story of Katharine Wright, sister to two of the most famous Dayton innovators who changed the course of history––Orville and Wilbur Wright. We couldn’t be prouder of this creative process and this production, and we are thankful to the NEA for this important stamp of approval and their assistance in our endeavor.”

Finding Wright traces parallel narrative threads that begin with the discovery of the exceptional Katharine Wright, younger sister of Orville and Wilbur, by 21st-century Charlotte (Charlie) Tyler, a young, recently widowed engineer and academic. As Charlie learns more about the extraordinary events of Katharine’s life, she finds a path toward understanding, connection, and healing.

The unique creative team working on this new opera includes four women who are among the most gifted and recognized artists on today’s opera scene: composer Laura Kaminsky, librettist Andrea Fellows Fineberg, stage director Kathleen Clawson, and conductor Susanne Sheston. Included in the creative team are three accomplished Dayton artists, Pamela Knauert Lavarnway, scenic designer, D. Bartlett Blair, costume designer, and John Rensel, lighting designer.

“The inspiration for this exciting and extremely collaborative venture for Dayton Opera came when two of the creative team were visiting Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery and came across the gravestone of Katharine Wright Haskell, sister of perhaps two of the most famous figures in Dayton’s history, and in fact the world: brothers of flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright,” said Dayton Opera Artistic Director Thomas Bankston. “Andrea Fineberg and Kathleen Clawson discovered this unique gem in Dayton’s past during their visit to that historic cemetery, sparking their search to learn more about this amazing woman whose story had to be told. We are thrilled that the NEA is helping us to do just that.”

This NEA grant joins other grant support for Finding Wright from the E.L.M. Foundation, The Harry A. and Virginia B. Toulmin Fund of the Dayton Foundation, and the Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation. Dayton Opera’s Finding Wright will premiere in February 2022.

For more information on the projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news. For more information on Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, visit daytonperformingarts.org.

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About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (DPAA) was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the greater Dayton community, with a mission to be the community’s indispensable source for traditional, diverse and innovative experiences in ballet, opera, and orchestral music. The vision of the DPAA is to transform lives through the power of music and dance. The DPAA offers a wide variety of performance and education programs, setting a new standard for artistic excellence. DPAA performances reach an audience of more than 90,000 people annually, and their rich arts education programming serves over 60,000 schoolchildren in 150 schools in the Miami Valley. These performances and education initiatives are made possible in part through major support provided by the Ohio Arts Council, Culture Works, the City of Dayton, Montgomery County and the National Endowment for the Arts.