Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

InterAct Theatre Company in partnership with Rick Shiomi Receives 2nd grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for the Implementation Round of their Building Demand for Theater, made for and by the Asian American Community in Philadelphia

Rick Shiomi. Photo by Lia Chang

Rick Shiomi. Photo by Lia Chang

InterAct Theatre Company in partnership with 2015 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award recipient Rick Shiomi has received a $115,000 grant to expand on efforts to build demand for theater made for and by the Asian American community in Philadelphia, from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. It is the second grant that Shiomi has received from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in partnership with InterAct Theatre Company.

In 2014, Shiomi was awarded a Doris Duke grant for Building Demand for the Arts program to work with InterAct Theatre and Asian Arts Initiative to develop Asian American theater and audiences in Philadelphia. The coalition of Philadelphia theaters participating in the Philadelphia Asian Theater Project (PATP) include Azuka TheatreEgoPo Classic TheaterInterAct Theatre CompanyKaleid TheatreLantern Theater CompanyPeople’s LightPlays and Players, and The Wilma Theater. In addition to The Asian Arts Initiative, PAPA (Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists) is a PATP supporter.

The first productions supported by PATP in the 2014/15 season were Caught by Christopher Chen produced by InterAct Theatre Company, Hold These Truths by Jeannie Sakata produced by Plays and Players, and Take/Sacrifice by Kaleid Theatre at Mz. Fest hosted by Plays and Players.

InterAct Theatre Company’s world premiere of Christopher Chen’s CAUGHT garnered multiple Barrymore Award nominations including Outstanding Direction of a Play for Shiomi, Outstanding Overall Production of a Play, Outstanding Scenic Design (Melpomene Katakalos), the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist for actress Bi Jean Ngo, and won for the Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play.

Playwright Rick Shiomi honored with 2015 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award and Commemorative Book

24 pairs of artists and arts organizations nationwide are receiving a total of $2,430,000 in Implementation Grants from The Doris Duke Foundation for projects that aim to drive public demand for jazz, theatre and/or contemporary dance This funding is part of DDCF’s Building Demand for the Arts program, which launched in 2013 and supports partnerships focused on using the performing arts in unique ways to develop meaningful connections with targeted audience. Implementation grants support organizations working with artists, during a 90 day residency over a period of three years, to implement previously crafted initiatives and projects that have strong potential to spark demand for the arts in their communities. Each grant also includes an extra $5,000 dedicated specifically to evaluation of the funded project.

“We believe that strong, creative partnerships between artists and organizations have the potential to nurture a public that is deeply invested in and understanding of the way the performing arts enriches it,” said Cheryl Ikemiya, senior program officer for the Arts at DDCF. “We are delighted to support this outstanding cohort of grantees and are confident that they will act upon this shared belief and engage their communities in bold and unconventional ways.”

The other recipients of the 2016 Building Demand for the Arts Implementation grants are:

  • 651 ARTS (Brooklyn, NY) in partnership with Okwui Okpokwasili with a grant of $60,000 to support the artistic voice of young and emerging Brooklyn – based artists of African descent.
  • Harlem Stage (New York, NY) in partnership with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah with a grant of $115,000 to build demand for jazz among young professionals and college students in New York City
  • American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco, CA) in partnership with Byron Au Yong with a grant of $115,000 to expand access to and engagement with live performing arts among young Asian American technology professionals.
  • ArtsEmerson (Boston, MA) in partnership with Daniel Beaty with a grant of $115,000 to broaden the participation of Asian, black and Latino/a populations in the city’s cultural offerings.
  • Brooklyn Arts Exchange (Brooklyn, NY) in partnership with Dan Fishback with a grant of $115,000 to build grassroots demand for the performing arts among the LGBTQ community.
  • Casita Maria (Bronx, NY) in partnership with Arturo O’Farrill with a grant of $60,000 to work with the Hispanic, African American and Afro-Caribbean populations to continue the tradition of great jazz in the borough
  • The Cedar Cultural Center (Minneapolis, MN) in partnership with Hodan Abdirahman and Dalmar Yare with a grant of $115,000 to present and revive “Somali jazz” among Minnesota’s Somali immigrant community.
  • Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles, CA) in partnership with Naomi Iizuka with a grant of $115,000 to activate demand for live theatre within an already musically vibrant neighborhood.
  • Cornerstone Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA) in partnership with Eisa Davis with a grant of $115,000 to create a Story Circle Platform that translates the company’s analog, in-person engagement practices onto a digital format.
  • CounterPulse (San Francisco, CA) in partnership with Jodi Lomask with a grant of $115,000 to build demand for the performing arts among the “tech creative” community of the Bay Area.
  • Eastside Arts Alliance (Oakland, CA) in partnership with José Navarrete with a grant of $60,000 to encourage demand for experimental, contemporary and interdisciplinary performance art in the community of East Oakland.
  • Ellis Marsalis Center for Music (New Orleans, LA) in partnership with Jesse McBride with a grant of $115,000 to reinvigorate and bring the modern jazz repertoire to young musicians and new audiences in the area.
  • La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA) in partnership with DANCE MONKS (Mirah Moriarty and Rodrigo Esteva with a grant of $60,000 to implement powerful interdisciplinary arts that hear, represent and honor the needs of the Mexican immigrant community in the East Bay area.
  • Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (New York, NY) in partnership with Jennifer Monson with a grant of $115,000 to continue to offer the community, especially youth and seniors, new ways to engage with dance.
  • Mixed Blood Theatre (Minneapolis, MN) in partnership with Mark Valdez with a grant of $115,000 to build more engaged, mutual relationships with immigrants and refugees in the theatre’s home neighborhoodof Cedar-Riverside.
  • The New Group (New York, NY) in partnership with Thomas Bradshaw with a grant of $115,000 to implement a swathe of initiatives aimed at developing a diverse audience more representative of the city.
  • On the Boards (Seattle, WA) in partnership with Claudia La Rocco with a grant of $115,000 to build greater demand for contemporary dance by expanding public awareness of the form’s broad variety and impact on society through the addition of academic tools to
  • Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA) in partnership with Marty Pottenger with a grant of $115,000 to execute an arts-based civic engagement project focused on social issues that will build demand for the performing arts among Philadelphia’s young artists and audiences.
  • Performance Space 122 (New York, NY) in partnership with Yehuda Duenyas with a grant of $115,000 to use technology as a gateway for reaching out to young adults already engaged in social media and online gaming.
  • St. Ann’s Warehouse (Brooklyn, NY) in partnership with Geoff Sobelle with a grant of $115,000 to implement an immersive digital project that will link and introduce the new theatre to its new neighbors and social environment.
  • Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center (Denver, CO) in partnership with Daniel Valdez and Tony Garcia with a grant of $60,000 to build the capacity of both artists and audiences to continue the Mexican-American tradition of using art to express resistance, sustenance and hope.
  • Theatre Communications Group (New York, NY) in partnership with Maurice Decaul with a grant of $115,000 tocreate a replicable, interactive curriculum that introduces veterans and military personnel to the art and practice of theatre.
  • The Yard (Chilmark, MA) in partnership with David Parker and Jeffrey Kazin, Deborah Damast, Godfrey Mulwuya, Marvin Novogrodski, Dian Dong and HT Chen, Leo Manzari and Aaron Jungels with a grant of $60,000 to build demand for a full range of contemporary dance among parents, children and teachers in the community of Martha’s Vineyard.

The Building Demand for the Arts program promotes deeper, longer relationships between artists and arts organizations, as well as new kinds of conversation, brainstorming and cooperation between them. The program therefore also offers Exploration grants, which support initial, investigative conversations between artists and organizations about ways to build demand for the performing arts. The second and last cohort to receive Exploration grants was announced in November 2015. DDCF is awarding these grants as part of a larger $50 million, 10-year commitment over and above its existing funding for the performing arts.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.

The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

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