MANSFIELD — The National Endowment for the Arts has announced  the Emerging Artists Program of Mansfield’s Renaissance Theatre has been awarded a funding grant for the 2021-2022 season.

Created by Renaissance Artist Director Michael Thomas, the goal of the program is to guide, encourage, support and advocate for artists of all ages who wish to find their own voice through the creation of original work.

By establishing an environment that promotes the importance of self-expression, risk-taking and collaboration, the Theatre 166 Emerging Artists Program is designed to foster and translate an artist’s creative thinking into smart, vital and thought-provoking new works.

For its inaugural season, the program has chosen to workshop the following projects:

Some Battle Scars Make the Best Tattoos

A year in the life of a Midwestern rust belt town. 2020 saw the murder of George Floyd, the rising voices of Black Lives Matter, the devastating swath of Covid-19, unemployment and isolation, the growing acceptance and complacency toward hate groups, and the divisiveness of the 2020 election and the effect it had on one racially and politically divided small town in Ohio. African American writer/composer Jody Odom Jr. puts into words and music his struggles with depression, anger, disillusion, and a community at war with itself.

Things We Know to be True

Chicago playwright and composer Tatum Hunter’s film script is based on the true story of two siblings who confront a cult-like evangelical Christian sect and the conspiracy theories they embrace as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of their parents in a rural Ohio town.

Young & Unsullied: The Redemption of Ruby Crowe

Based on the recently discovered letters of Ruby Crowe, a Mansfield socialite and wife of a charismatic Presbyterian minister, Alison Shaw Bolen and Jason Kaufman’s new play tells a heartbreaking story of abuse and sexual betrayal simmering beneath a veneer of opulence, intellectualism, and Victorian propriety.

Desde Mi Corozon

In June of 2018, 114 undocumented workers at Corsos Garden Centers in Sandusky and Castalia, Ohio, were arrested by immigration agents and jailed in various undisclosed locations throughout the Midwest. Their homes and children were left abandoned and their lives were torn apart. Told in their own words, Desde Mi Corozon, (From my Heart) features an original score by Latin Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Julia Vargas.

This Too Shall Pass

Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Allie Carter and Aaron Nicolas have created a musical journey through the personal hell of one man as the last fourteen years of his life unfold to reveal a labyrinth of betrayal, lies, manipulation, guilt, sexual debauchery and murder. It’s a stunning visual and musical experience that combines storytelling with modern dance and an electro-acoustic score.

This is the first time the Renaissance has received the prestigious grant. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, grants support “artistically excellent projects that celebrate our creativity and cultural heritage, invite mutual respect for differing beliefs and values, and enrich humanity.”

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities.

Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

The Renaissance Theatre is a performing arts theater located at 138 Park Avenue West, Mansfield, Ohio.

For more information about the Ren, visit or contact Follow the Ren on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

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