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once upon this stage artwork with headshots of Grant Wood Vincent Price Meredith Willson Agnes de Mille John Philip Sousa Will Rogers Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hoyt Sherman Place recipient of multiple grants funding Once Upon This Stage production

Hoyt Sherman Place has received funding from the 2023 Humanities Collaboration Grant and the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund. Both awards will be used to provide artists’ compensation for the Once Upon This Stage production celebrating the Theater’s Centennial season in March.

The Humanities Collaboration Grant is made possible by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and by the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency. This grant aims to support projects that use the humanities as the central resource to involve and benefit diverse groups of Iowans through educational programming that explore the human experience. Hoyt Sherman Place was one of 24 considered requests and was awarded $17,750.

Once Upon This Stage is also supported by a $4,000 gift from Arts Midwest GIG Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from Iowa Arts Council. The fund provides financial support to arts organizations for rebuilding and re-imagining creative engagement in their communities amidst the challenging uncertainty affecting all corners of the creative sector.

Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Future is the tagline for Hoyt Sherman Place and Des Moines Women’s Club co-production of Once Upon This Stage. The event is a tribute to some of the first artists to appear in the historic theater nearly 100 years ago. Celebrities of the day like Grant Wood, Vincent Price, Meredith Willson, Agnes de Mille, John Philip Sousa, Will Rogers, and Edna St. Vincent Millay will each be honored. This engaging and inspiring variety-style show celebrates each person’s individual history and art form as the audience is immersed in their most famous works.

Following each artist’s vignette, local partners will honor these legends with live performances of the same art form. Ballet Des Moines will perform Who Cares by George Balanchine, a choreographer who collaborated with Agnes de Mille. To honor Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, local rap artist B. Well will recite two of her long-form poems as well as an original piece. The Des Moines Metro Opera will also perform music written by Ms. Millay. Meredith Willson’s musical, The Music Man, will be brought to life by accomplished men’s ensemble, Vox Infinitus and John Phillip Sousa will be recognized by The Des Moines Metro Concert Band and their performance of “Starts and Stripes Forever”. Lastly, original works by Grant Wood will be on display in the Hoyt Sherman Place Art Gallery, which were provided by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Des Moines Art Center as well as a private donor.

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