- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Kentucky caves will be the setting in 2002 for the Wolf Trap performance series "Face of America," Wolf Trap President Terrence Jones announced yesterday.

Wolf Trap is the country´s only national park devoted to the performing arts.

"One of the goals is to explore all regions of this country, and in 2002 we will go underground to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky," Mr. Jones, also Wolf Trap´s chief executive officer, said in a speech at the National Press Club.

The series, which made its debut last year at Yosemite National Park in California, mixes natural landscapes with music, art and dance.

This year it will premiere Sept. 8 in the Virgin Islands. Future plans for "Face of America" include a centennial celebration in 2003 of the Wright Brothers´ first flight at national parks in Kitty Hawk, N.C.; Dayton, Ohio; and Tuskegee, Ala. In 2004, Wolf Trap will head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and in 2005 to the Grand Canyon. Wolf Trap will stick close to home the next year with performances in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Mr. Jones said $2.5 million will be spent on the series during the next five years, with funds coming from the Artist Initiative Fund. The fund draws from corporate and individual donors.

"Collaborating with artists and naturalists, rock climbers and conch shell players, storytellers and synchronized swimmers, Wolf Trap is creating an annual performance event … to communicate the very essence and spirit of our national parks," he said.

Mr. Jones stressed the importance of supporting art despite political and economic roadblocks. He said this year´s Virginia budget stalemate meant the loss of more than $1 million for Wolf Trap. Consequently, as of July 1, Wolf Trap will cut educational programs for "at-risk" 3- to 5-year-olds in downstate Virginia.

Lack of money is a constant problem, Mr. Jones said. Last year´s "Face of America" presentation didn´t break even.

Regardless, Mr. Jones said, art lovers must remain devoted. "You must challenge those who say we can´t afford art," he said. "History shows we can´t afford a world without art. It is our sustenance for today and our legacy for tomorrow."

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