January 10, 2023

Opera Santa Barbara is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Grants for Arts Projects award of $10,000. This grant will support the company’s next opera, Jack Perla and Jessica Murphy Moo’s, An American Dream, at the Lobero Theatre on Saturday, February 18. This grant is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling nearly $28.8 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants. 

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with Opera Santa Barbara strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”

Opera Santa Barbara Artistic and General Director, Kostis Protopapas was especially pleased to have this production supported by the NEA. “An immigrant myself, I first learned about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II when I read David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars,” said Protopapas. “Art has a powerful way to illustrate history and cast light into even the darkest corners of the human experience.  I saw An American Dream in Seattle in 2017, and was won over by the sincerity, empathy, and tenderness with which it tells a very difficult story. It’s a powerful piece of music theater that I have wanted to produce ever since.”

An American Dream reflects Opera Santa Barbara’s ongoing commitment to exploring contemporary American dramas in opera.  A powerful story that resonates far beyond its spatial and temporal confines, told within a relatively short time through music and words that are at once succinct, An American Dream is both accessible, and inspiring. Furthermore, it is a story that belongs to people who are important to the company: the small but historic Japanese-American community of Santa Barbara including mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida-Nelsen, a Santa Barbara-born artist who created the role of Hiroko Kobayashi in the 2015 premiere. It is also important to the Opera Santa Barbara board and staff, who look to opera as an emotional gateway to the experiences of others. Japanese-American Conductor Eiki Isomura and Japanese Set and Projection Designer Yuki Izumihara are also part of the current production. There will be one performance of the opera on Saturday, February 18, at 7:30PM at the Lobero Theatre. An American Dream is sponsored by The Mosher Foundation.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), established in Congress in 1965, is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States.For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.