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Portland Opera’s Spring Production of “The Central Park Five” Will Receive a $30,000 Grant

The new work is among 1,248 projects across the country selected to receive funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Portland Opera’s upcoming run of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning production of The Central Park Five just got a massive financial boost.

The company announced today that the show, scheduled to open March 18, has been approved to receive a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Portland Opera’s work is among 1,248 projects across the country that were selected to receive funds during the first quarter of 2022 in the Grants for Arts Projects category. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded a total of $28,840,000.

“We are so grateful to the National Endowment of the Arts for their support of this production of The Central Park Five, and we’re so excited to share this important opera,” Sue Dixon, general director of Portland Opera, stated in a press release. “Their commitment to supporting and celebrating artistic vitality and leadership nationwide helps us create and share public programming, like this brilliant new piece, with the community.”

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, The Central Park Five is based on the wrongful rape and assault convictions of five Black and Latino teenagers in 1989 New York. After serving sentences for crimes they did not commit, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were exonerated through DNA evidence.

The opera examines not just their ordeal, but also delves into topics like justice, freedom and the powerful court of public opinion. Tickets are available on the company’s website.

If Portland Opera’s productions look more contemporary and diverse than in past seasons, you’re not wrong. The company has spent the past year updating its mission statement and core values after collaborating with not only core staff and the board of directors, but also patrons, artists and musicians.

“Portland Opera’s exciting ‘21-’22 season encapsulates the company’s forward-thinking vision for the future of opera,” Damien Geter, co-artistic adviser, stated in a press release. “Balancing an old favorite, Puccini’s Tosca, with two works by underrepresented composers, Leslie Uyeda’s When the Sun Comes Out and Anthony Davis’s The Central Park Five, audiences will experience the power of storytelling through scores that speak to the common bond of humanity.”