More than $82 Million Awarded for Arts Projects Nationwide Including $14,000 awarded to Ardea Arts

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects and partnerships in the NEA's second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2016. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $14,000 to Ardea Arts for the creation of BOUNCE The Basketball Opera. The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

"The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "Supporting projects like the one from Ardea Arts offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day."

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use#NEASpring16. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to


To support the production and outreach activities of Ardea Art's Basketball Opera, BOUNCE, a dramatic mix of music, theater and basketball involving youth and community both in the process and performance of the work. BOUNCE is grounded in contemporary youth issues, including teen violence.  It brings to life a story of the soaring hopes, dreams and aspirations of Isaac (Icarus) "Ike the Flight" Harris, a high school basketball player who overcomes temptations and life's hard lessons. An accessible, affordable-to-produce opera performed on basketball courts across the country in parks, athletic centers, schools, correctional facilities and theaters. This universal opera is conceived by director Grethe Holby, with story and libretto by basketball author and poet Charles R. Smith, Jr., and music by Grammy award-winning composer Glen Roven with additional music by folk blues Global soul composer Tomás Doncker and EDM Producer Ansolo.  Partners include University of Kentucky Opera Theatre (development); WNYC (media); Alaska Public Media, City Parks Foundation, Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes (GMACC), and three city high schools: EBC High School for Social Service, Nazareth Regional HS, both in Brooklyn, and Business of Sports School (BOSS) in Manhattan. 


Grethe Barrett Holby (Concept & Direction) Collaborating on well over 35 new operas over her career, she launched the groundbreaking organization American Opera Projects in 1988, which she led for 13 years, then Ardea Arts/Family Opera Initiative in 2006. A Rockefeller fellow, Holby has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Placido Domingo, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lou Reed, Menotti, Kitty Brazelton and others, in venues from The Kennedy Center and La Scala to The Kitchen. Productions for Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, North Carolina, Memphis, Anchorage, Houston, Michigan, and Washington opera companies; and originating cast member of Philip Glass/Robert Wilson Einstein on the Beach.

Glen Roven (Lead Composer/Music Supervisor) Composer, lyricist, conductor, pianist; Founder and Artistic Director for RovenRecords, distributed worldwide by Naxos; 12 -time nominee and 4-time Grammy winner; collaborated with Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Sinatra, Julie Andrews, Aretha Franklin, Renee Fleming, Kathleen Battle and hundreds of other celebrities for film, television, Broadway, Carnegie Hall and many other international venues and orchestras.

Charles R. Smith, Jr. (Story and Libretto) Award-winning author, photographer and poet with over thirty books to his credit including a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration (2010) for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem "My People" and a Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award (2008) for his biography on Muhammad Ali, "Twelve Rounds to Glory." Early books such as "Rimshots", "Hoop Kings" and "Hoop Queens" focus on his love of basketball.

Tomás Donker (Additional Music) Global Soul composer and producer. Directs, composes and performs with his ensemble, Tomás Doncker Band. Guitarist for James Chance & The Contortions, Defunkt, J. Walter Negro & The Loose Jointz. Collaborated with Boosty Collins, Yoko Ono, The Itals, & Prince Charles Alexander. Current projects with Ivan Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Meshell Ndegeocello, Living Colour's Corey Glover, P-Funk keyboardist Amp Fiddler Shamekia Copeland, & Bill Laswell.

Ansolo (EDM tracks) A DJ and Electronic Dance Music Producer, Ansolo has performed in major EDM concert venues and festivals around the world including Electric Zoo and Ultra Music Festival. 

Everett McCorvey (Lead Music Director) Professor of Voice, OperaLex Endowed Chair in Opera Studies, and Director and Executive Producer of The University of Kentucky Opera Theatre: Artistic Director of the National Chorale, New York City; Director, American Spiritual Ensemble; Vice chair Kentucky Arts Council. Professional Credits: the Kennedy Center, Metropolitan Opera, Teatro Communale (Italy), Radio Music City Hall. A basketball fan, he often sings the National Anthem for UKY Wildcats games.


Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America's rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.

ARDEA ARTS Founding Artistic and Executive Director - Grethe Barrett Holby

Ardea Arts commissions, develops, and produces provocative new works of music-theater and opera to entertain, challenge and inspire today's diverse global community, uplift the human spirit, and encourage new ways of seeing our world. It is their goal to engage the community to the greatest extent possible in both the process and performance of the work, producing both within and far outside the walls of the opera house in order to reach the widest public possible. Collaboration is sought with unexpected artists to include American contemporary and popular forms in the operatic musical palette. Ardea Arts works out of its studio in Soho, New York City.

In addition to BOUNCE, Ardea Arts repertory includes Flurry Tale  (1999), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2001), Fireworks!  (2002), Animal Tales (2005), The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz (2007), The Man in the Black Suit (2008),Goodnight Moon/Plums (2009), CAT (2010), Maya's Ark  (2013), BABAR The Little Elephant (2014), One Christmas Long Ago (2015), and in development, The Three Astronauts. Producing partners have included Center for Contemporary Opera, French Institute NYC (FI-AF), American Opera Projects, NYC Central Park Zoo, Infinity Music Hall CT, and International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Space.

BOUNCE The Basketball Opera will have workshop performances this June 25-27. Please visit for details.