Actors Theatre of Louisville Awarded $40,000 from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to Partner with Acclaimed Folk Musician Ben Sollee

by on March 23, 2016

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March 22, 2016

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Louisville, Kentucky– Artistic Director Les Waters and Director of Development Julie Roberts announced today that Actors Theatre of Louisville has been awarded a generous $40,000 exploration grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.  The Exploration Grant is a part of the prestigious Building Demand for the Arts program. In collaboration with local performance artist Ben Sollee, Actors Theatre will utilize the funds to explore new engagement initiatives for young audiences through the use of technology and new media.  One of only eighteen performing arts organizations in the country to receive this coveted award, Actors Theatre will use the newly formed partnership with Sollee to focus on audience development and community engagement.

“Today’s technologies and social media platforms offer a wholly different way to connect audiences with theater arts,” said Sollee.  “I’m so grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for giving Actors Theatre of Louisville and me the opportunity to explore these opportunities. It is our ambition to use this collaborative grant to stretch out, try new things, and take some chances.”

Waters said, “Actors Theatre has had the privilege of collaborating with Ben Sollee on two previous projects. He is a unique and inspired artist and we are thrilled to partner with him to explore audience development through new media, technology, and music. I can think of no one more suited for this collaboration than Ben.  He is a celebrated musician and a treasured Kentucky native. We are honored to receive this extraordinarily rare opportunity.”

“We are pleased to support the collaboration between Actors Theatre of Louisville and Ben Sollee to investigate new strategies that build demand for the arts among younger generations,” said Cheryl Ikemiya, senior program officer for the Arts at DDCF. “The partners’ exploration of how technology and social media might build crossover audiences of music fans for live theater will provide important learnings to the field.”

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 offers multiple Exploration Grants, which support initial, investigative conversations between artists and organizations about ways to build demand for the performing arts.  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 theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit

About Ben Sollee

Ben Sollee (Songwriter/Composer/Storyteller) Known for a 360º approach to his art, Kentucky native Ben Sollee educates as much as he entertains through his innovative style as a cellist; conveying genre-bending songwriting through electrifying performances and non-traditional album presentation.  His most recent music, Steeples Pt. 2 is the second of three parts in an album release of the same name.  Portioning Steeples in this way, Ben is able to break the traditional album cycle and deliver a diverse array of content to his fans.  Within the past year, Ben has complemented the songs of Steeples Pt. 1 and 2 with The Vanishing Point virtual reality app, film scores like Maidentrip, a technology infused production of Harold & the Purple Crayon, an interactive sculptural installation called Livestream, and much more.  Through the innovative facets of his artistic portfolio he teaches his audience that the modern artist has no boundaries.

About Actors Theatre of Louisville

Now in its 52nd Season, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the State Theatre of Kentucky, is the flagship arts organization in the Louisville community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Les Waters, Actors Theatre serves to unlock human potential, build community, and enrich quality of life by engaging people in theatre that reflects the wonder and complexity of our time.

Actors Theatre presents almost 350 performances annually and delivers a broad range of programming, including classics and contemporary work through the Brown-Forman Series, holiday plays, a series of free theatrical events produced by the Apprentice/Intern Company, and the Humana Festival of New American Plays—the premier new play festival in the nation, which has introduced nearly 450 plays into the American theatre repertoire over the past 39 years. In addition, Actors Theatre provides more than 15,000 arts experiences each year to students across the region through its Education Department, and boasts one of the nation’s most prestigious continuing pre-professional resident training companies, now in its 44th year.

Over the past half-century, Actors Theatre has also emerged as one of America’s most consistently innovative professional theatre companies, with an annual attendance of 150,000. Actors Theatre has been the recipient of some of the most prestigious awards bestowed on a regional theatre, including a Tony® Award for Distinguished Achievement, the James N. Vaughan Memorial Award for Exceptional Achievement and Contribution to the Development of Professional Theatre, and the Margo Jones Award for the Encouragement of New Plays. Actors Theatre has toured to 29 cities and 15 countries worldwide, totaling more than 1,400 appearances internationally. Currently, there are more than 50 published books of plays and criticism from Actors Theatre in circulation—including anthologies of Humana Festival plays, volumes of ten-minute plays and monologues, and essays, scripts and lectures from the Brown-Forman Classics in Context Festival. Numerous plays first produced at Actors Theatre have also been published as individual acting editions, and have been printed in many other anthologies, magazines and journals—making an enduring contribution to American dramatic literature.


Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Box Office: 502.584.1205
502.371.0956 TDD

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