The National Endowment for the Arts gave $35,000 in taxpayer funds to an activist’s transgender dance tour.
The grant was handed to San Francisco’s “Fresh Meat Productions,” which is led by the self-described “first acclaimed transgender modern dance choreographer” and “transgender, white, disabled/Hard-of-hearing and queer longtime social practice artist,” Sean Dorsey.
Dorsey’s biography says they have “taught with his explicitly trans-positive pedagogy in more than 35 cities.”
The performance that was awarded the grant is titled “The Lost Art of Dreaming,” which the NEA says “imagines transgender and queer futures through contemporary dance, grand-scale costuming that will double as set and visual elements, and physical theater.”
“THE LOST ART OF DREAMING is performed by a powerhouse ensemble of five trans, queer and gender-non-conforming dancers (Sean Dorsey, Brandon Graham, Héctor Jaime, David Le, Nol Simonse) – with a rich, layered soundscore featuring commissioned and original music,” the production’s website states.
The website features images of men in gowns dancing.
The Daily Wire, who first reported on the grant, noted that “Fresh Meat Productions lists several of its ‘community engagement activities’ on its website, which includes ‘free online creative tools.’ Among the resources are ‘postcards from the future,’ drawings of transgender mermaids and other figures, along with slogans like ‘we are divine,’ ‘joy is your birthright,’ and ‘you are exquisite.'”
When reached for comment about the grant, the NEA told The Daily Wire that the grant was handed out “on the basis of artistic excellence and artistic merit” and that “panels of arts experts and other individuals from across the country … made recommendations on all of the Grants for Arts Projects applications.”
Fresh Meat Productions received the same grant last year for the same production.
“The studio has received several NEA grants, according to the government agency’s grant search page, which reveals that Fresh Meat Studios also received $35,000 in 2022 for the same dance tour,” the Daily Wire reports. “It also received $150,000 from the American Rescue Plan and has received funding for other productions, including one focused on the AIDS epidemic. Another focused on ‘masculinity and gender in contemporary America.'”
The production company also received $19,000 in a 2019 grant from the California Arts Council, which is state-funded.