National Endowment for the Arts Funds UtahPresents’ Stage Door Series, Featuring New Works by Plan-B Theatre and Heartland Collective

Plan-B Theatre also receives funding for EllaMental by Dee-Dee Darby Duffin, which will serve students in grades 4-6 statewide as the company’s 12th annual Free Elementary School Tour

UtahPresents is thrilled to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a Grants for Arts Projects award of $25,000 to support the Stage Door series. The UtahPresents series, reimagined to feature local artists producing new work, will present premiere performances of Plan-B Theatre’s Kilo-Wat and Heartland Collective’s Minute and Far.

The Stage Door series was created to present touring artists and ensembles in a more intimate setting. Patrons enter through the backstage door of Kingsbury Hall and sit on the stage where the performance takes place. This coming UtahPresents season, the Stage Door Series will become an engine to support the rich creative community in Salt Lake City with a new focus on local artists.

The series will open UtahPresents 2024-25 season with Minute and Far, created and performed by Heartland Collective, a multi-disciplinary performance collective founded by Molly Heller. Minute and Far plays with perspective, proportion through distortion, and the mechanics of time. This mixed media work is inspired by the stories, both real and imagined, of iconic Kingsbury Hall. Themes of geometric repetition, zigzag forms, and whimsical surprise are explored through movement, live music, and Art Deco inspired scenic elements.

In February, Plan-B Theatre will premiere Kilo-Wat, a new play written by Aaron Asano Swenson, performed by Bryan Kido, and directed by Jerry Rapier. After leading the University of Utah men’s basketball team to the 1944 NCAA Championship, point guard Wat “Kilo Wat” Misaka was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to interview survivors of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. After the war, he was drafted by the New York Knicks, breaking the color barrier in professional basketball. Kilo-Wat explores what it means to make history within history.

Plan-B also received NEA funding for its statewide Free Elementary School Tour of EllaMental by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin. Created specifically for grades 4-6, EllaMental centers on Ella, a Black, twelve-year-old sixth-grader struggling to make sense of her Big Feelings from the pandemic—grief, loss, fear, and anger—in a post-COVID world.

In total, the NEA will award 1,135 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling more than $37 million as part of its second round of fiscal year 2024 grants.

“Projects like UtahPresent’s Stage Door Series exemplify the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities—all through the arts,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “So many aspects of our communities such as cultural vitality, health and wellbeing, infrastructure, and the economy are advanced and improved through investments in art and design, and the National Endowment for the Arts is committed to ensuring people across the country benefit.”