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Artists Series at UW-Eau Claire to Feature Two Shows with New Funding

RELEASED: June 16, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — The Artists Series at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been selected to receive funding from Arts Midwest's Performing Arts Fund, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Wisconsin Arts Board, General Mills Foundation and Land O'Lakes Foundation.

The Performing Arts Fund supports the touring of professional performing artists specializing in the fine arts of dance, theater, music and family entertainment throughout Arts Midwest's nine-state region. These engagements include public performances and in-depth educational activities reaching audiences that lack access to the performing arts.

Arts Midwest will support two presentations in the UW-Eau Claire 2009-10 Artists Series: the Griffin Theatre Company's "Letters Home" and the musical duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas.

"In these economically trying times, arts events like this not only provide uplifting experiences for audiences, they also create meaningful jobs for those employed in the arts industry — thus amplifying the effectiveness of our funding," said David J. Fraher, Arts Midwest executive director .

The Griffin Theatre Company of Chicago will present "Letters Home" at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in UW-Eau Claire's Zorn Arena. The play puts the war in Iraq front and center by bringing to life letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East. "Letters Home" is inspired by The New York Times article "The Things They Wrote" and the HBO documentary "Last Letters Home," along with additional letters and correspondence from Frank Schaeffer's books. These letters were written under the most difficult of circumstances: the disorientation of training, deployment, separation from loved ones and combat. Giving voice to a generation that went to war for reasons still being debated, the play reveals the humanity that lies within the war through the eyes of those fighting it.

The Artists Series will present Fraser and Haas at 7:30 p.m. April 14 in UW-Eau Claire's Schofield Auditorium. The duo displays dazzling teamwork, dancing rhythms and a shared passion for improvising on the melody and the groove of Scottish tunes.

The musical partnership between Fraser, long regarded as Scotland's premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly talented cellist Haas may not seem an obvious one. But this unlikely pairing is the return to a long-standing musical tradition.

"Going back to the 1700s," Fraser said, "fiddle and cello made up the dance band of choice in Scotland, with the cellist bowing bass lines and driving the rhythm. ... I've been pushing to get the cello back into the traditional music scene for years, always on the lookout for a cellist with whom I could have a strong musical conversation."

Funding from Arts Midwest will allow both performances to include an outreach component that will broaden the Artists Series' reach into the community while also deepening the artistic experience of those individuals participating in the activities.

Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge and understanding across boundaries. A nonprofit regional arts organization headquartered in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest serves audiences, arts organizations and artists throughout the nine states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin and beyond. One of six nonprofit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities and military bases.

Funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities and Programs office of the University Centers.

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JS/NW

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