UCSC and Santa Cruz Cultural Council to collaborate on arts project with NEA grant

The Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County has received a $14,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a collaborative project with the UC Santa Cruz Arts & Lectures program.

Titled Connecting Arts and Community, the project will bring high-quality dance experiences to Santa Cruz County youth, their families, and other community members through performances and demonstrations by the internationally renowned David Dorfman Dance company. Activities will take place at county high schools and community youth organization sites.

"This grant is a tremendous opportunity for the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County and UCSC's Arts & Lectures to inspire local children by bringing world-class performances to high schools and community centers," noted Alberto Rafols, executive director of the Cultural Council. "It strengthens arts education in a time of dwindling school funding and presents a world of possibilities to the next generation of artists and audiences."

"It's an ideal partnership," added Michelle Witt, director of UCSC's Arts & Lectures program. "Arts & Lectures has unique connections with artists, and the Cultural Council-through its SPECTRA Excellence in Arts Education program-has special knowledge of the schools and community."

The David Dorfman Dance company has performed extensively in New York City, and throughout North and South America, Great Britain, and Europe. David Dorfman and the company's dancers and artistic collaborators have been honored with seven New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Awards, including one for his community-based project, Familiar Movements (The Family Project). Dorfman's community projects are designed specifically to connect non-dancers with professionals, and to include such diverse groups as at-risk teens, schoolchildren, senior citizens, and people with disabilities.

At the conclusion of its two-week residency in Santa Cruz, David Dorfman Dance will perform on March 10 and 11 at the UCSC Mainstage Theater as part of the Arts & Lectures 2005-06 performing arts season.

The Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the arts in Santa Cruz County. For the past 26 years, the Cultural Council has provided arts education in local schools, encouraged cultural endeavors through grants to community arts organizations, assisted thousands of artists to market their work, developed facilities assistance for the arts, and educated the public about the importance of art and artistic diversity.

Representatives from the Cultural Council and UCSC's Arts & Lectures have been meeting to plan the project since May of 2004. The site list for residency activities at this date includes: Watsonville High School, Harbor High School, Scotts Valley High School, Pajaro Valley High School, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Cruz and Shoreline Middle School, and the Watsonville Charter School of the Arts.