Sometimes, people give you money because you’re cool.

You run a respected, struggling arts organization for a few years, trying to get people to notice. Then $75,000 drops from the sky like manna – not for your company, but for you.

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You don’t have to fulfill any commissions or spend any of it on a production. You get guaranteed income for 18 months. You’ve become an “early career leader,” and to justify this expenditure, all you have to do is become a smarter version of yourself.

That magic wand has tapped Quentin Talley. The founder and artistic director of On Q Productions, Mecklenburg County’s African-American theater, has won one of six One-on-One awards in America, paid for by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and run by Theatre Communications Group.

A Leadership U(niversity) program will pay him $75,000 over 18 months, starting in September. Up to $14,500 more is available for professional development or life needs, such as health care or medical expenses.

Even better, Talley will hook up with a veteran in his field: Lou Bellamy, founder and director of Penumbra Theatre Company in Saint Paul, Minn.

So Talley gets his bills paid and his mind elevated. On Q gets a higher profile nationally, on the brink of its fourth season: “Kiss My Black Angst,” a pair of one-acts by Amiri Baraka and Adrienne Kennedy, begins Sept. 14 in the Arts Factory at Johnson C. Smith University. read more…