EPL to receive $25,000 grant from the NEA to bring ‘1619: The Journey of a People’ to Evanston 

EVANSTON, ILL. – The Evanston Public Library is pleased to announce they have been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a Grants for Arts Projects award of $25,000.

This grant will support the production of 1619: The Journey of a People, coming to the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in June. In total, the NEA will award 1,135 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling more than $37 million as part of its second round of fiscal year 2024 grants.

“Projects like 1619: The Journey of a People exemplify the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities—all through the arts,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD.

“So many aspects of our communities such as cultural vitality, health and wellbeing, infrastructure, and the economy are advanced and improved through investments in art and design, and the National Endowment for the Arts is committed to ensuring people across the country benefit.”

1619 was really well received last year, and we are so pleased to be able to stage the full production for the Evanston community this summer,” said Evanston Public Library Family Engagement Coordinator Carmen Francellno, who has led this project. “It’s a show that’s really meaningful to this community, and this grant is going to help us ensure that more people are able to experience it for themselves.” 

In 2023, EPL and the Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre partnered to bring excerpts of the play, written by Ted Williams III in recognition of the 400-year anniversary of the date when the first enslaved Africans were brought to the shores of this nation, to Evanston Township High School and Evanston’s Juneteenth Celebration. 

This year, thanks to the grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and partnership with Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and the Northwestern University of Neighborhood and Community Relations, the full production, comes to the stage of Fleetwood-Jourdain, and a limited number of community admission tickets will be distributed in the weeks leading up to the show. 

Additional events to enrich the experience and impact of the show, including discussions with the cast and crew, are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The multi-disciplinary theater experience of 1619: The Journey of a People is expressed through three modern characters in a series of performance pieces that will leave audiences both inspired and challenged about the progress of America’s African sons and daughters. The production of 1619… features a dynamic cast of singers, actors, spoken word artists, and dancers who reflect on the past while tackling critical contemporary social issues. With an appeal for all ages, this production reminds us that on the other side of the trial lies greatness.

1619: The Journey of a People runs June 15-30 at Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre. 

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visitarts.gov/news.


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