Sizeable Grant for Perseverance Theatre and Nationwide Partners
Jake Waid, Xáalnook Erin Tripp, and Jill Kaasteen Meserve performing in the world premiere of Where the Summit Meets the Stars with Perseverance Theatre in 2022.
A generous grant from the Mellon Foundation covers a big chunk of Perseverance Theatre’s annual budget. The company is one of five nationwide selected for a new collaboration called the Future of American Theatre Cohort, bolstered by a $2.5 million grant.
Formalizing a Collaboration
Each of the organizations, whose budgets range from $400,000 to around $2 million, will receive $500,000 over two years to support artistic programming, cultural change-making, and ongoing innovation. The share coming to Alaska is $250,000 per year for two years.
Artistic Director Leslie Ishii says, “We at Perseverance Theatre are profoundly moved and grateful to feel seen by the Mellon Foundation. This significant support offers the opportunity to continue our work.”
The other members of the cohort—Cleveland Public Theatre in Ohio, Company One in Massachusetts, Crowded Fire Theater in California, and Mosaic Theater Company in Washington, D.C.—had joined with Perseverance last spring to share resources. Support from the Mellon Foundation allows the cohort to better sustain their companies while benefiting from peer mentorship and collective learning through regular gatherings.
“Each organization in this cohort has demonstrated local and national leadership capabilities through coalition-building and their practice of abundant collectivism,” says Stephanie Ybarra, program officer for Arts and Culture at the Mellon Foundation. “The close collaborations on behalf of communities and the larger theatre ecosystem is thrilling to see, and we’re proud to be in partnership with them as they do this important work.”
Frank Delaney, managing director of Perseverance Theatre, notes that the grant is not for general operating expenses, but it will fund new initiatives and pay for two short-term positions.
The unique focus that Perseverance brings to the cohort is “decolonizing for right-purposed relations with Alaska Natives and all Native/Indigenous peoples for collective liberation.” Perseverance Theatre, founded in Juneau and now regularly operating in Anchorage as well, has worked since 2019 to reflect on its own membership and practices, such as what it means to be in right relations with Alaska Native elders, leaders, and organizations.