The Theatre Communications Group’s national conference opened in the Arts District yesterday, which explains the hundreds of people you may have seen milling about, many slightly lost but also happily greeting each other with manic hugs. After a round of initial panels, talks, workshops and food-truck visits (when it wasn’t raining), everyone congregated in the Winspear Opera Hall for the Official Opening Assembly, Pep Talk and Texas Howdy. (It was pretty nifty for local pride, by the way, to see all of these stage veterans from around the country lean back in awe to look at the Winspear chandelier and whip out their cellphones to capture it as it rose up into the ceiling.)
The welcome included speeches by TCG executive director Teresa Eyring and Dallas Theater Center artistic director Kevin Moriarty, plus some clips from KERA’s Sweet Tornado bio of Dallas theater pioneer Margo Jones and brief performances by artists Will Power and Natasha Tsakos.
What wasn’t included in the conference’s printed agenda was an award presentation to TACA (The Arts and Community Alliance) as the best regional funder. Moriarty introduced Robyn Flatt, founder of the Dallas Children’s Theater, who recalled the early days of TACA in the ’60s — raising $60,000 in its first auction to pretty much save the Dallas Theater Center. David Lozano, artistic director of Cara Mia Theatre Company, then explained how the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works program granted Cara Mia the $49,000 the company has used to develop and create its immigration trilogy, The Dreamers (the first part of which continues through June 15th at the Latino Cultural Center). And then Lozano presented the award to Becky Young, TACA’s president and executive director, who made a heartfelt acceptance speech about you — meaning the theater artists present — were the reasons for TACA’s existence.
Soon after, everyone exited for food, drinks and mingling outside at the Nasher — because the Dallas weather gods had finally come through and deemed it a good day to party.