Bijanini (Photos courtesy of ICA of Central Iowa)
By Priti Nambisan and Rema Nilakanta
India Cultural Association of Central Iowa
(Dec. 8, 2011) As National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman has noted, “Art works everywhere,” which is why the NEA’s Challenge America Fast-Track (CAFT) program supports projects from primarily small and mid-sized arts organizations that extend the reach of the arts to underserved audiences—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.
India Cultural Association of Central Iowa or ICA (www.icaiowa.org) was selected to receive one of the 162 grants of $10,000 awarded to organizations in 46 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is the first time that ICA has received the much-coveted NEA grant.
"We are delighted to receive a NEA Challenge America grant,” said Priti Nambisan, ICA's current president. She continued, “this award recognizes ICA’s role in bringing to the Midwest high caliber cultural programs from the Indian subcontinent. It also speaks to NEA’s determination to make such culturally diverse arts possible in communities where this might otherwise not be possible.”
ICA, located in Ames, was formed in 1992 as a non-profit organization. ICA aims to promote the cultural and secular heritage of India, and enhance friendship and understanding with people from various cultural backgrounds. Each year ICA sponsors several cultural events to foster a better understanding of Indian art, music, and culture. These programs are well publicized through electronic and print media. They attract audiences and participants from Ames and surrounding central Iowa communities. Membership in ICA is open to all interested individuals and families.
The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
The Challenge America grant will help ICA bring to Ames two internationally renowned classical dance troupes from South Asia. India’s famous Nrityagram Dance Ensemble (www.nrityagram.org) and the celebrated Chitrasena Dance Company from Sri Lanka will present a collaborative work titled Samhara that explores the meeting point between the Odissi dance from India and the Kandyan dance from Sri Lanka.
The dance concert will be held on April 7, 2012 at the Ames City Auditorium, Ames, Iowa. In addition, as part of their educational mission, Nrityagram will hold an introductory workshop on Odissi dance at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa on April 6, 2012. Both events are open to the public and the concert is ticketed. Please check ICA’s website at www.icaiowa.org to get updates about the Nrityagram program and other ICA related activities.
“Taken together, these Challenge America Fast-Track grants provide an extraordinary sampling of the work that art organizations do to reach underserved communities,” said Chairman Landesman. “With these grants, we are helping to ensure that art works for all Americans.” Please see the complete listing of projects recommended for Challenge America Fast-Track grant support.
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at www.arts.gov.