Edison receives NEA Challenge America grant

Award to support free activities relating to Hispanic dance

Edison Theatre at Washington University in St. Louis has received a prestigious Challenge America Fast-Track Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

A repeat recipient in the Challenge America category, Edison will use the $10,000 award to support Algo Nuevo (Something New), a series of free activities exploring the history and aesthetics of Hispanic dance and traditional costuming.

The series is held in conjunction with a pair of performances, on March 2 and 3, by Ballet Hispanico, widely considered the foremost dance representative of Hispanic culture in the United States.

Algo Nuevo events will take place Saturday afternoons throughout February and March and will include a master class taught by Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director of Ballet Hispanico, and workshops with Carmen Dence, founder and artistic director of Grupo Atlántico.

“We are pleased to receive funding from the NEA for this project,” says Charlie Robin, executive director of Edison Theatre. “For several years, we have been partnering with local organizations to promote awareness and facilitate discussion between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Algo Nuevo will continue this effort by providing an educational forum during which we can learn about one another and from one another.”

In addition, elementary students enrolled in the WUSTL-sponsored Niños Cambios Puertas programs — which serve Latino youth in the St. Louis Public Schools’ ESOL Bilingual Migrant Program — will attend a special Ballet Hispanico performance at Edison Theatre March 3. Each child will receive a free ticket as well as additional tickets for family members. Grant funds will cover bus transportation.

The NEA Challenge America program is called “Fast-Track” because of its expedited review timeline. Edison was notified approximately six months after applying. In all, this year 162 Challenge America grants were awarded nationwide — from a field of 375 eligible applications — to arts organizations in 46 states as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Taken together, these Challenge America Fast-Track grants provide an extraordinary sampling of the work that arts organizations do to reach underserved communities,” says Rocco Landesman, chair of the NEA. “With these grants, we are helping to ensure that art works for all Americans.”

For a complete list of Challenge America recipients, please visit the NEA website.


Edison is the professional presenting organization for Washington University in St. Louis. While Edison Theatre serves as a facility for a wide range of campus groups and regional organizations, programming is focused on the presentation of touring artists.

Two series — Ovations and ovations for young people — are presented annually and together typically feature a dozen artists and/or companies from across the disciplines of music, dance and theatre.

Ovations artists and productions are generally interdisciplinary and/or multicultural, with a focus on new works or adaptations of classical material. Ovations for young people, a cross-generational family series, presents Saturday morning matinees designed to be inclusive, accessible and affordable for all ages.

National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.

The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov.