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Fort Wayne, IN – Audiences Unlimited, in partnership with Fort Wayne Youtheatre, has been approved for a $10,000 Challenge America award to support an Adaptive Narrative Theatre Production, pairing neurodiverse and neurotypical youth. This project will offer youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and neurotypical youth the opportunity to participate equally together in a live, staged theatre production. Audiences Unlimited’s project is among 168 projects across America that were selected to receive fiscal year 2022 funding totaling $1,680,000 in the Challenge America grant category.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects like this one from Audiences Unlimited that help support the community’s creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “Audiences Unlimited in Fort Wayne is among the organizations nationwide that are using the arts as a source of strength, a path to well-being, and providing access and opportunity for people to connect and find joy through the arts.”

“Audiences Unlimited is thrilled to partner with Fort Wayne Youtheatre to present this innovative program serving youth with diverse abilities,” said Anna Ross, Audiences Unlimited Executive Director. “These future leaders of our community will have a greater understanding of the skills, abilities, and potential of every individual and how we all can work together toward a common goal. They will be the next generation of advocates, all of whom have direct experiences in authentic inclusion.”

In collaboration with Fort Wayne Youtheatre, the project will offer middle and high school aged youth opportunities to participate as actors or technical support personnel in a traditional narrative theatre production at the Parkview Physicians Group ArtsLab in downtown Fort Wayne. Workshops, auditions, rehearsals, coaching and mentoring, and the final production series with talk-backs will allow for building self-confidence and skills. Relationships will be built through this process, creating a greater sense of understanding and comradery.

For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

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Suzanne Rhee