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NEA awards grant to Company One for its play about Bill Russell

The National Endowment for the Arts is handing out grants again, and that’s good news for area arts groups. The NEA, which has bestowed more than $5 billion on arts organizations across the country over the past 50 years, this week announced $27.6 million in new grants. Locally, Company One Theatre is getting $15,000 to develop the world premiere of “The Bill Russell Project” by Kristoffer Diaz. (The piece, using the rivalry between the Celtics legend and Wilt Chamberlain to highlight issues of race, class, and segregation in Boston, was commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as one of a series of plays addressing US history.) “The Bill Russell Project” is expected to kick off Company One’s 2018 season. In all, over three dozen groups in the Bay State received grants, among them: Boston Children’s Chorus, which is getting $35,000 to support its high school-age choirs; Music Worcester, which will use $10,000 to fund a series of performances by international music and dance companies; Merrimack Repertory Theatre, whose $20,000 grant will support a world premiere production of Idris Goodwin’s “The Realness: a break beat play”; and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Boston Ballet, and the American Repertory Theater.