NTPA Receives First Grant from National Endowment for the Arts
Supporting Arts Programming for Youth and Adults with Cognitive Disabilities

National Endowment for the Arts has awarded North Texas Performing Arts a grant for $10,000 in support of the NTPA – Starcatchers Summer Stage Series program for youth and adults with cognitive disabilities. This is the first NEA grant awarded to NTPA, and NTPA is one of only three theatres in the Dallas area that were selected during this round of NEA Grants for Arts Projects.

“As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations such as North Texas Performing Arts re-engage fully with partners and audiences,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure.”

The NTPA Starcatchers program is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary of offering adapted performing arts programming in the North Dallas area. NTPA Starcatchers provides therapeutic performing and visual arts programming designed specifically for children and adults with cognitive disabilities. In this program, students are given opportunities to shine through drama, music, dance, and visual art. Starcatchers students learn to advocate for themselves and their needs and build connections with their community.

The new Summer Stage Series project is based on a drama therapy technique called Barrier-Free Theatre where the participants are both performers and playwrights. This program will emphasize each participants’ strengths and interests to create an original production through improvisation and storytelling. Starcatchers Managing Director Riley Graygrove and Creative Staff Member Breanna Spink will guide participants through the playwriting process where they will learn storytelling structure, how to create characters, and how to create and solve problems within a show. Through this project, the participants can create characters they want to play and stories they want to tell directly to the audience. By being involved in every step of the process, the participants will grow in their artistic understanding of theatre, develop group collaboration skills, and have the opportunity to share their perspectives with the greater community. 

“Inclusivity is a key part of both NTPA’s mission and the vision of the Starcatchers program,” says Graygrove. “This project provides an incredible opportunity to continue the ongoing conversation with our audience and community as a whole about dismantling barriers within the performing arts.”

NTPA Director of Development Patricia Gregory says, “The new Starcatchers program is a perfect example of NTPA’s work to foster a space that is inclusive of performers of all abilities and engages the broader community with adaptive performing arts. We are so grateful that NEA has selected North Texas Performing Arts as a grant recipient, so we can offer this type of programming in the North Dallas community again. Because of Covid, the Starcatchers have only been able to offer virtual programming for the past year resulting in lost revenues for the program. With the NEA’s support, we are thrilled to see our Starcatchers students return to the stage once again.”

Learn More about NTPA Starcatchers