Theatre Professor's Urban Circus Troupe Wins Knight Foundation Award

circus performers
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Nouveau Sud Project receives 2023 Knight Art + Tech Expansion Fund grant.

The Nouveau Sud Project, the urban circus initiative founded by Associate Professor of Theatre CarlosAlexis Cruz, is a recipient of a 2023 Knight Art + Tech Expansion Fund from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Foundation created the Knight Art + Tech Expansion Fund “to support the long-term sustainability of Charlotte’s arts community by providing practitioners with the tools they need to increase the integration of technology in their work,” the foundation said in a release. Nouveau Sud is one of 22 Charlotte-based artists and arts organizations to receive funds in 2023.

Cruz founded Nouveau Sud in 2014 with a McColl Award from the Arts & Science Council. Nouveau Sud had its debut production in April 2016 and has continued to mount shows that address social justice issues, particularly issues of immigration and race and ethnicity. In 2020, the troupe received the prestigious Creation and Touring Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) for its production, La Bestia (pictured above).

The Art + Tech Expansion Fund will allow Cruz to build the capacity of Nouveau Sud in three ways: by implementing a social media plan, purchasing equipment and storage capacity for documentation and online content creation, and beginning a rebranding of the urban circus company.

“Our plan is to hire a social media/marketing manager to establish a plan for growth and to better tell the story of the different facets of our work strategically,” Cruz said.  “We are aiming to clearly present our different endeavors – our soon-to-be national touring show, La Bestia, the development of our new show, Violence, and the work that we do within our communities as part of our ensemble's mission.”

Cruz teaches physical theatre, including circus arts, at UNC Charlotte and is the president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Earlier this year he received the 2023 Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement, awarded annually to a tenured member of the faculty whose teaching and/or research “embody the University’s commitment to civic involvement, and whose work profoundly and systematically affects the relationship between UNC Charlotte and the larger community in a positive and meaningful way.”

Among the “Suds,” as the Nouveau Sud company members are called, are UNC Charlotte alumni. Learn more about Nouveau Sud and their award-winning production, La Bestia, in this online feature.