Rohde and Newtown Creek Alliance Awarded NEA Grant
National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded an Arts Project Grant to the Newtown Creek Alliance, which is in the process of creating a site-specific performance piece composed by Professor Kurt Rohde. The Newtown Creek separates the border of Queens and Brooklyn, and has a history of being one of the most polluted waterways in the country. The piece is called the Newtown Odyssey, which is being actively developed through workshops with artists and local community organizations.
Containing elements of storytelling, music, and visual arts, the Odyssey will focus on climate change, environmental justice, and civic responsibility. Envisioned as a travel diary through different periods in time, it will be presented on the Newtown Creek itself in Summer 2023 with both audience members and performers traveling along the water amid floating stages.
“The more connected I am to the actual space and the more exposure I have to it, the more I get my own articulable understanding of why this is beautiful to me….There is something arresting about being on the creek. But without anyone telling you—that there’s something wrong with the water. And yet, it’s serene, it has its own type of calmness, and it’s alive. There are all sorts of contradictions side by side.” —Kurt Rohde
Kurt Rohde (composer), Marie Lorenz (sculpture artist), and Dana Spiotta (writer) won a Creative Capital Grant in 2021 to create the work. The NEA grant is a cost-sharing $10,000 award given in the category of Presenting and Multidisciplinary Works. It is among nearly $29 million given in similar grants, which the NEA says seeks to “reach communities in all parts of the country, large and small, and with diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.”
Founded in 2002, the Newtown Creek Alliance is a community-based organization with a mission to “restore community health, water quality, habitat, access, and vibrant commerce along Newtown Creek.”