Funding boost supports works by BIPOC in Dallas arts scene – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Four Dallas arts organizations producing new works got a funding boost so they can turn imagination and innovation into artistic reality.

On Tuesday night, TACA (The Arts Community Alliance) announced the 2023 recipients of its New Works Fund. Cara Mía Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Nasher Sculpture and Verdigris Ensemble will share the $125,000 distribution to support the creation of new works that will be seen in 2024.

“Since the New Works Fund’s inception, TACA and our esteemed jurors have identified groundbreaking projects that support local artists, explore new ideas, inspire innovation, challenge traditional thinking, and keep art fresh and relevant, especially among underrepresented artists,” said Maura Sheffler, Donna Wilhelm Family president and executive director. 

TACA New Works Fund was established in 2012 to support the development and performance of new works in Dallas County. The fund has provided $1,112,500 in grants to support 36 new works of art in North Texas.

Since the pandemic and with the endorsement of its Board of Directors, TACA has refocused the grant to provide support for new works of performing, literary, and visual art in varying stages of development by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), LGBTQ+, and female artists.

This year’s distribution was made possible by the generosity of Presenting Sponsor Texas Instruments.

“Just as art from the past provides a window into our cultural histories, new works of art say much about our diverse communities today,” said Andy Smith, executive director of the TI Foundation. “TACA’s New Works Fund helps artists – especially those whose voices are historically unheard – explore and express their cultural identities in new and innovative ways. This is important to keep our arts community vibrant now and into the future. We’re excited about this year’s New Works Fund recipients and how they are expressing their artistic visions of the world around us.”

Additional support is provided by PNC, Rea Charitable Trust, and Anne Davidson, with founding support from the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund. The recipients were selected by a panel of local and national artists and arts managers through a competitive application and review process.

Two productions of new plays are among the recipients.  

Cara Mía Theatre received $25,000 for Yanga written by Jaime Chabaud and translated by Tomas Ayala-Torres. The play will be produced in partnership with Soul Rep Theatre Company from Feb. 17, 2024, to March 3, 2024.

The collaborating Dallas area theaters, working in association with Mulato Teatro from Mexico, will present the world premiere of the play inspired by the real-life story of Gaspar Yanga, an enslaved African Prince who led a rebellion and successfully negotiated an independent territory with the Spanish crown less than 100 years after the arrival of Hernán Cortés in Mexico. Translated into English for the first time, Yanga sheds light on the roots of the Afro-Mexican experience.

Cara Mía Theatre recently opened its 2023-2024 season with We Have Iré.

Dallas Theater Center received $10,000 for Jonathan Norton’s: I AM DELIVERED’T, scheduled to be presented Feb. 2-18, 2024.

Good Friday. The New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church’s Seven Last Words service is in full swing. But outside – in the church parking lot – another resurrection story is taking shape. This world premiere new comedy by DTC Playwright in Residence, Jonathan Norton, introduces theater audiences to African American church Usher Board culture as it intersects with the jubilation and tribulation of same-gender loving African American Christians. I AM DELIVERED’T is a co-production between Dallas Theater Center and the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Jonathan Norton (right) is Dallas Theater Center’s Playwright in Residence.

With this production, the Dallas Theater Center launched a pilot program called the “Ambassador Program,” a group of staff and board members traveling around Dallas to specific communities to engage people with the creation of the work, bring more awareness to the play and the institution, and invite newcomers to the theater.

 For the first time, visual arts are among this year’s recipients.

“We’re especially pleased this year to make our first New Works grant for a visual arts piece to the Nasher Sculpture Center,” Sheffler said.

Willem de Kooning ‘Seated Woman’ Photo by Tim Hursley for the Nasher Sculpture Center

The Nasher Sculpture Center received $50,000 for Hugh Hayden: America, planned for September 2024 – January 2025.

The exhibition will feature newly commissioned work by Dallas native, Hugh Hayden. Currently in development, the new sculptural works will invite visitors to examine familiar objects through a slightly sinister, critical lens. The goal of America is to use Hayden’s signature spiky wooden thorns to explore childhood, community, public space, individualism, safety, and, as referenced in the exhibition’s title: the American Dream. This installation and exhibition of new work will be accompanied by robust public programming, including school tours, workshops, and an artist talk.

“The Nasher Sculpture Center is honored to be a recipient of a grant from 2023 New Works Fund,” said Director Jeremy Strick. “This grant—the first of its kind to a visual arts organization—allows the Nasher to present a series of newly commissioned works in the Nasher’s garden and galleries. Hugh Hayden: America, on view beginning in September 2024, is a homecoming for the artist and a chance for us to present his important works to our Dallas community. The New Works Fund is one of many examples of TACA’s important work to support culture in North Texas.”

Verdigris Ensemble recently opened its 2023-2024 season with an AI-infused concert, The Endangered.

Verdigris Ensemble received $40,000 for Mis-Lead, composed by Kirsten Soriano. The choral ensemble will present the world premiere performance of the piece from April 5-7, 2024.

This stunningly sobering account of West Dallas’s lead-infused past shines a light on one of the most impactful environmental challenges in the City’s history. In collaboration with Dallas Free Press – using eye-witness accounts, newspaper articles, city council transcripts, and community conversations – Verdigris mixes bilingual poetry with docu-journalism to chronicle a community in need. This dynamic new work honors the generations of Dallasites affected by lead-smelting, reminding us that the first step to environmental justice starts at home.

Learn more: TACA

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