Audience-driven adventure teaches young adults to question whether arts institutions are inclusive enough
Off The Page has announced that the collaborative project Missing from the Museum has again been awarded a Grants for Arts Projects award of $20,000 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This grant is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling nearly $28.8 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.
This is the second such grant for the Missing from the Museum multi-state partnership, which includes Brave Little Company (Texas), Dare to Dream Theatre (Wisconsin), and Trike Theatre (Arkansas). Missing from the Museum is an interactive art history adventure series for young people and their families. Season 3 will premiere in Fall 2023. More information can be found at www.MissingFromTheMuseum.org.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with Off the Page and its nationwide partners strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”
Missing from the Museum engages young viewers and their families in a thrilling, time-traveling art heist to encounter interpretations of women artists throughout history and around the world. The audience drives the action as they determine where the story will go next. In real life, they are inspired to participate creatively, conduct their own adventures at nearby museums, and interrogate who is included in arts institutions.
“The project is about artists and art museums but we see the applications to the larger field of all kinds of arts—can artists from historically marginalized communities find a place in any arts institution?” said Jody Drezner Alperin, Artistic Director of Off The Page. “We see many art museums reaching into their archives or partnering with living artists to undo the erasure they have contributed to. As theatres, we are excited for a project that calls attention to those artists but also educates audience members on how they can become the people who look for whose voice has been left out over time.”
In Season 2 (the first to be funded in part by an NEA grant), the project engaged more than three dozen artists, the vast majority of whom were female or nonbinary, and filmed in five states.
Seasons 1 and 2 were able to powerfully explore why any gatekeeper (of art, of education, of publishing) might see an incentive to exclude certain stories from the mainstream, using the metaphor of the fictional Restoration Department (RD), a secret and deeply divided organization dedicated to uplifting women artists throughout history. This resonated powerfully in a time in with increased efforts to ban and challenge books and plays from public education and public libraries. The RD’s appeal to young viewers was that youth have the strongest power of Clear Sight, a power that allows them to look at a work of art without preconceptions (developed as a real pedagogical tool by the MFTM partnership).
The upcoming Season 3, titled Unsupervised, opens in a library, where some young participants have gathered to continue re-discovering and rescuing lost works by women. Without the adult guidance they are used to, they must depend even more on their own Clear Sight, tackling disagreements among the team and misinformation from unreliable sources. As they develop their self-knowledge and knowledge of their subject, they become the authorities of the future.
The returning creative team for Missing from the Museum includes Jody Drezner Alperin, co-founder and Artistic Director of Off the Page, Troy Scheid, director of Brave Little Company, and Brittny Bush, a Houston actor and director who is BLC’s Consulting Creative Director; Rachel Thuermer, Founder and Artistic Director of Dare to Dream Theatre; Kassie Misiewicz, Founder and Artistic Director of Trike Theatre; Chris Tennison, Theatre Director, Alvin Community College; and teaching artist Amber-Nicole Sales.
About the Theatres
Off the Page Education (Brooklyn, New York) inspires young people – to connect to the past, take action in the present, and change the future. Using the arts and creative learning, we take history out of the textbook and into the hands of young people. Off the Page is more than an arts education program – we are a movement, cultivating a generation of social changemakers. Learn more at www.offthepageeducation.org.
Brave Little Company is Theatre for Everyone. We create works about, with, and for kids and their grown-ups, reflecting Houston’s diversity through the stories we tell and the artists who tell them. Our ongoing initiative THE BIG “US” PROJECT is a community-driven theatre piece created annually by 100 members of Houston’s refugee communities and funded in part by the City of Houston/Houston Arts Alliance. Brave Little Company is part of the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster for 2020 – 2022, and is proud to offer touring productions statewide through Young Audiences of Houston. Learn more at www.brave-little.com.
Dare to Dream Theatre, founded in 2001, is a non-profit process-based youth theatre company rooted in education and dedicated to bringing joy to children while helping them find and share their voices with the world. We serve the community through multi-generational theatrical experiences, highlighting growth and learning at all levels of development. Learn more at www.daretodreamtheatre.com.
Trike Theatre is Northwest Arkansas’ only Professional Theatre for Young Audiences, located in Bentonville, AR, where young artists and their families SEE, LEARN and DO Theatre. Trike Theatre’s mission is to Cultivate Creativity, Build Character and Strengthen Communities so that the lives of young people can be transformed by exceptional theatre experiences through our Productions, Academy and our Outreach programming . Trike Theatre proudly focuses its service on Northwest Arkansas but has a growing reach throughout the state, region, and united states. To learn more about ways to enroll, purchase tickets or donate, please visit https://triketheatre.org/.