11 San Diego arts groups receive grants from National Endowment for the Arts

Eleven San Diego County arts organizations received a combined $203,000 in grants Wednesday from the National Endowment for Arts as part of the federal agency’s spring 2021 funding program.

Overall, the NEA disbursed $88 million in grants to more than 1,000 organizations nationwide. The funding included $27 million in individual grants for arts projects planned in the coming year.

In California, 177 organizations received a combined $5.5 million in grants for arts projects. The spring funding also included “Our Town” matching grants for arts programs that enrich the community through the arts, as well as grants to state and regional arts organizations.

This spring’s grants were designed to help arts organizations — most of which have been closed or drastically reduced by the pandemic over the past year — re-engage with their audiences, according to Ann Eilers, NEA’s acting chair.

“While the arts, whether through books, movies or online performances and programs, have been a sustaining force for many throughout the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure,” Eilers said in a statement.

Diana DuMelle , co-director of San Diego’s Bodhi Tree Concerts, said that its $13,000 NEA grant will allow the company to achieve its dream of commissioning an original bilingual children’s opera. “Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote,” composed by Anthony Davis with libretto by Quincy Troupe, focuses on issues of immigration and migrant life. It’s the story of a young rabbit named Pancho whose father travels north to find work and earn money for his family. When the father doesn’t return, Pancho sets out to find him.

La Jolla Playhouse will use its $20,000 NEA grant to develop its 2022 POP Tour, the annual Performance Outreach Program that takes original new plays for young audiences into San Diego County grade schools. The 2021 POP Tour show, Idris Goodwin’s “Pick Me Last,” is being offered virtually this year. It can be streamed for free to San Diego schools, organizations and families in May, June and July. To register, visit

Here’s the list of NEA grants for arts projects received by San Diego County arts organizations:

Center for World Music in Encinitas received $25,000; La Jolla Playhouse received $20,000; transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project in Lemon Grove received $10,000; Bodhi Tree Concerts received $13,000; and Classics 4 Kids in San Diego received $10,000.

Also earning grants were Fern Street Community Arts in San Diego, $15,000; Media Arts Center San Diego, $25,000; the Old Globe in San Diego, $20,000; Outside the Lens in San Diego, $10,000; Playwrights Project in San Diego, $20,000; and the San Diego State University Foundation’s Prison Arts Collective program, $35,000.

— Pam Kragen is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune