The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation registered in New York State, was founded in 1994 by the late playwright/filmmaker Arch Brown in memory of his life-partner of 28 years, Bruce Allen Brown. For 24 years, the foundation offered grants to production companies to offset expenses in producing LGBTQ-themed plays, films, videos, and other performing-arts works based on history. From 1996 until 2017, the foundation also sponsored an annual literary (later, playwriting) competition.
The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, which announced the suspension of its production grants program in May, is extremely pleased to announce the following ten grants—the final grants the foundation will award during 2018:
- A grant to the Center for Independent Documentary, Boston, Mass., acting as fiscal agent, to assist in an upcoming workshop production of a new performance work, I Am Romeo/Casa Cushman, by writer-director Leigh Fondakowski. Inspired by historian Lisa Merrill’s book When Romeo was a Woman, the play follows the life of Charlotte Cushman, a famous 19th-century American actress, as she creates an artists’ commune in Rome where female artists can come live and work.
- A grant to The Film Collaborative, acting as fiscal agent, to support the production of a fund-raising trailer for a multipart television series, Heroes & Heretics: Uncovering the History of Same-Sex Desire (working title). The series will illuminate the global history, from ancient times onward, of same-sex love and desire from a cross-cultural perspective. This hybrid documentary/narrative project is being produced by award-winning filmmakers Bennett Singer and David Deschamps.
- A grant to Fractured Atlas, acting as fiscal agent, to help underwrite the production of The Gray Hours,by Alyson Mead. The play, which details the life, work, and activism of African-American lesbian playwright Lorraine Hansberry (author of A Raisin in the Sun), will be produced by Crooked Heart Theatre and mounted at the Atwater Village Theatre, Los Angeles, in the spring of 2019.
- Another grant to Fractured Atlas, acting as fiscal agent, to help cover expenses for two upcoming productions of a new play, Lured, by Frank Avella. The play is based on real events that took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2012–2014, when gay men were targeted by a vigilante group called Occupy Pedophilia. Lured will be performed at the OnStage! American Theater Festival in Rome, Italy, in January 2019; a prelude run will be staged in New York City in November of this year (dates and venue to be determined).
- A grant to the International Documentary Association, acting as fiscal agent, to assist in the completion of a fund-raising trailer for a new documentary film, Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen. The documentary weaves together clips from films dating back to 1914 with interviews with prominent present-day trans media figures like Laverne Cox and Jen Richards, revealing how Hollywood has simultaneously reflected and manufactured our society’s deepest anxieties about gender.
- A grant to the Latino Theater Company, Los Angeles, to offset expenses for this fall’s world premiere production of Members Only, by Oliver Mayer. The play, a sequel to Mayer’s Blade to the Heart (1994), is set in New York City in the early 1980s and continues the story of gay Latino champion boxer Pedro Quinn.
- A grant to Plan-B Theatre, Salt Lake City, Utah, to help fund the world premiere production of An Evening with Two Awful Men, by Elaine Jarvik. The play is a dark comedy in which the original worst-ever (and possibly first gay) president James Buchanan and actor-assassin John Wilkes Booth defend their (in)actions before a live studio audience. Performances are scheduled for February 21 through March 4, 2019. Special congratulations are extended to Plan-B, one of the few producing organizations to have received multiple grants from the foundation.
- A grant to The Tank, New York City, acting as fiscal agent for Hysteria Theatre’s production of a new play, tender of you too, by Anya Richkind. Described as “a love letter to two real women from queer history, Frances Willard and Mary Bannister,” the play centers on the blossoming relationship between two teenage girls, Allegra and Tara, who portray Willard and Bannister in a high school play. Performances at The Tank are scheduled for July 24–29.
- A grant to the Women and Theatre Program (WTP) of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, acting as fiscal agent, for the editorial production of a two-volume anthology of plays that have won the WTP’s Jane Chambers Playwriting Award. The anthology, edited by Maya Roth and Jen-Scott Mobley, will be published by NoPassport Press; publication details to be announced. AABBF advisory board member Sara Warner will provide the anthology’s afterword.
- And, finally, a grant to the Zeiders American Dream Theater, Virginia Beach, Va., acting as fiscal agent, to help support the production of The Orange Avenue Project, conceived and written by Connor Norton, Haley Sullivan, AJ Palacio, and Colin Asercion. The documentary-style piece is based on interviews with 17 people affected by the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. For more information on The Orange Avenue Project, visit its website.
Effective May 9, 2018, the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is suspending its production grants program. All grant proposals received before May 9 will be reviewed according to our usual process, and the organizations making those proposals may expect to hear back from the foundation over the coming weeks. We anticipate that we will again offer a limited grants program in 2019 and 2020. For details, please check this website after January 1, 2019.
The officers and advisory board of the foundation deeply regret this decision, made for the simple reason that, after 24 years, our resources have dwindled to the point that we can no longer fund the grants program. We are extremely proud of our work over the past two and a half decades, during which we have assisted more than 150 not-for-profit organizations in producing almost 200 individual works, including plays, musicals, performance works, fiction and nonfiction films and videos, operas, choral works, and other performing-arts events. We are equally proud of our grantees, who over the past quarter-century have so creatively mined LGBTQ history to fashion works that have informed and entertained LGBTQ audiences and the wider arts community.
For more information on the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, contact us.