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Idea Week: KERA's Jeff Whittington on State of the Arts

by Jeff Whittington 12 Oct 2010 3:38 PM

Jeff Whittington is preparing to interview Kevin Moriarty and Anne Pasternak for the State of the Arts series at the DMA this week. Here he shares a bit about what he learned at the last event – and what he might ask about on Thursday night.


Jeff Whittington is Senior Producer of Think, and host of Anything You Ever Wanted to Know, both on KERA-FM.

Kevin Moriarty

Art is supposed to be about putting something on the line, taking a risk and getting a reaction, a response or a change. Whether it’s on stage, in the studio or the corner office of an arts organization the scene is alive and well in North Texas and beyond.

Last month at State of the Arts, we learned that Dallas Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jaap van Zweden grew up playing a rented violin because his father wanted to be sure he was committed to learning the instrument. When he later put down the violin and picked up the baton, as a result of both the encouragement and frank criticism of Leonard Bernstein, he was risking his life’s work and successful career as a concertmaster to become a conductor.

We also learned that Houston-based and internationally-acclaimed and collected artist Trenton Doyle Hancock believes that artists have a moral obligation to produce art and push boundaries and (yes) take a few risks with their work. He could live and work anywhere in the world, but Trenton thinks Texas is a great place to be a visual artist because the people who live here are engaged with art and pay attention to what artists are doing. He also plays the drums almost everyday.

Anne Pasternak Credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

This season’s State of the Arts series is all about understanding those risks and exploring the public’s role in shaping the output of performers, visual artists and arts organizations. This Thursday, October 14th we’ll continue our ongoing conversation with two national leaders in the arts.

Since joining the Dallas Theater Center as Artistic Director in 2007, Kevin Moriarty has presided over a few of the most exciting events in the organization’s 50-plus-year history. His 2008 Dallas directorial debut, The Who’s Tommy, won widespread acclaim and his subsequent efforts have continued to push the envelope on stage at the (still) new Wyly Theater. We’ll discuss the current season, what it’s like to edit Shakespeare, the risks and rewards of working with a completely malleable space and more.

Anne Pasternak is President and Artistic Director for Creative Time – a New York-based organization that specializes in commissioning, producing and presenting exciting and occasionally provocative public artworks while simultaneously broadening the definitions of both art and public space. Last year, Creative Time was awarded one of the inaugural Meadows Prizes to spend a year focusing on the North Texas arts community and developing recommendations for a collaborative future for arts in the region. We’ll talk with her about Creative Time’s work on artistic intervention in the public space, fostering social progress and increasing public participation in the arts and what she thinks is working and perhaps not working here in North Texas.

It all goes down this Thursday, October 14th at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Horchow Auditorium. Details and a link for reservations are here. I hope you can make it.