TU Dance & Penumbra Theatre, both founded by TAD faculty, each awarded $500,000 by Knight Foundation
Two of St. Paul's vibrant arts groups shared Twin Cities headlines when TU Dance Company and the Penumbra Theatre each received a $500,000 award from the Knight Foundation last week. Each was founded and blossomed under visionary artistic leaders, Toni Pierce-Sands and Lou Bellamy; both are faculty members in the department of Theatre Arts & Dance. In announcing these gifts to the St. Paul arts scene, Knight Foundation officials recognized the exciting work of both organizations and their ability to attract and engage audiences.
TU co-founder Toni Pierce-Sands commented, "We are delighted, so very happy for the Knight Foundation's support of our dream. As TU continues to grow its dance company and dance school we believe will have enormous impact on the city of St. Paul and the Minnesota dance scene." Launched in 2004 by Toni Pierce-Sands and her partner Uri Sands, TU Dance has garnered audience and critical acclaim for its diverse repertory and versatile artists, and for performances that are engaging, dynamic and generous. Modern dance, classical ballet, African-based, and urban vernacular movements are combined in inventive and unpredictable ways.
The StarTribune reported that Pierce-Sands, who grew up in St. Paul remembers taking the 16A bus with her sister to Minneapolis for dance classes. Now, TU will use its grant to fund dance classes for low-income St. Paul youths. "This is going to help us change the perception that St. Paul is Minnesota's political capital and Minneapolis is the arts capital," Toni commented. Visit http://www.tudance.org/ to learn more
Penumbra Theatre, which successfully overcame financial setbacks a year ago, will receive $500,000 to create two positions -- a marketing director and development director. Both were cut from the theater in 2012, according to the Pioneer Press. "This request was the first test of our recovery, of our business plan, of my vision," said Sarah Bellamy, recently named Penumbra's co-artistic director to Lou Bellamy. "Knight asked challenging and thoughtful questions. This award is testimony to their faith in our work, our mission, and our future. It is inspiring, not only for Penumbra but for the larger community. We are very grateful for their leadership, for taking such a bold and public position with Penumbra. It is a strong incentive to succeed."
Penumbra Theatre Company was started in 1976 by Lou Bellamy to create a forum for African-American voices in the Twin Cities' well-respected theatre community. Through its commitment to provide realistic, inspirational works that redefine the consciousness of its audience, the company flourished. As Minnesota's only professional African American theatre, (one of only three African American professional theatre companies in the nation presenting a full season), Penumbra has stayed on the cutting edge of the national theatre scene and continues to present groundbreaking work. It has achieved national recognition for its quality productions and leadership role in launching the career of many respected playwrights, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson. Visit http://penumbratheatre.org/ to learn more.