The Savannah Ballet Theater has received the largest grant since its founding in 1998. The $ 52,000 grant from the City of Savannah’s Arts and Culture Enrichment Program as well as $ 5,000 from the Georgia Council for the Arts will support SBT’s educational awareness programs. SBT’s mission is to “develop and showcase the talent of dedicated Savannah dancers and engage in educational awareness and promotion of the art of dance within our community.” According to their press release, they are the first professional arts organization in Savannah to deliver innovative and accessible low-sensitivity experiences. Their community of commitment is demonstrated in their education and outreach programs which include the provision of tickets and subsidized transportation to performances. The two grants allow SBT, Savannah, and Southeast Georgia’s only professional dance company to increase access and deepen innovative educational programs. In a press release issued by SBT, Rebecca Martin Dugal, Artistic Program Coordinator and Company Dancer at SBT, said, “We are extremely grateful to the City of Savannah and the Georgia Council for the Arts for their generous support. We have not been able to present live performances since December 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the loss of much-needed income through ticket sales. We are excited to resume our educational outreach in schools virtually through Peter and the Wolf, and hope to resume outreach in person later this year, if it can be done safely. SBT is already using the funds wisely. In mid-April, they directed and filmed a contemporary outdoor interpretation of Russian composer Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev’s 1936 symphonic fairy tale Peter and the Wolf. From mid-May to the end of May, the images will be edited and distributed to teachers in the Savannah Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, preparing students for SBT dancers to visit the school and teach students the styles of dance, history and education. This financial support comes as nonprofits struggle to come out of a very difficult year. Rebecca Dugal, Artistic Program Coordinator at SBT, shares: “We are very grateful to the City of Savannah for this outreach opportunity. We believe this is a great investment for the community and we are excited to work with students of all ages. After a difficult year, we are ready to share our passion and our talent and give back to the public the pleasure of dance. The two grants will also support the low-sensory performances of SBT’s fall productions and, if COVID-19 safety precautions allow, The Nutcracker, which is set to play next December. Designed specifically for people with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities, or other disabilities, Sensory Performances make specific adjustments like keeping theater lights on during performances, turning down the volume of music, and making adjustments to help to decrease sensory stimulation. Abby McCuen, program coordinator and author of the SBT grant, explains how important the funding will be for SBT and for sharing the power of dance: “The City of Savannah and the Georgia Council for the Arts are so generous to its non-profit organizations. This grant is a seal of approval and I am very grateful to the city, the mayor and the city commissioners for their generosity. We can introduce a new generation to ballet and it is so powerful. The City of Savannah Arts and Culture Enrichment Program aims to integrate the arts, culture, heritage, design and other creative disciplines as strategies that enhance the economic, physical and social vitality of the city of Savannah. According to the city’s website, each year, the City of Savannah seeks proposals that position arts, culture and creative programs as catalysts to achieve the city’s goals of increasing economic growth through skills building, employment and entrepreneurship; improving the aesthetics of built environments; build and strengthen a strong sense of belonging to the community; engage, develop and inspire young people through imaginative approaches; and increase access to art and culture in close proximity to where residents live. Proposals are reviewed and evaluated by members of the Cultural Affairs Committee, who are citizens of the City of Savannah appointed through an application process by the mayor and aldermen.
For more information on the Savannah Ballet Theater, visit: savannahballettheatre.org. For more information on the City of Savannah’s ACE program, visit: savannahga.gov/2720/Arts-Culture-Enrichment-Program.