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$100,000 to Four Arts Groups Creating New Work in Dallas

by Anne Bothwell 24 Jun 2014 12:52 PM

TACA announces winners of the 2014 Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund.


(c) British Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationHe would be pleased.

Four arts groups have received a total of $100,000 to create new work in Dallas, thanks the Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund.

Dallas Bach Society, Dallas Children’s Theater, Fine Arts Chamber Players and The Dallas Opera each were granted $25,000 to execute their project ideas.

Fans of kids literature can look forward to a musical about Skippyjon Jones, the cat that thinks he’s a chihuahua (see video below). Dallas Children’s Theater playwright-in-residence Lynda Daugherty will handle the story, and Nick Martin will compose the music. The project is a co-production with Oregon Children’s Theater, set to debut in Dallas January 23-February 27 at Rosewood Center for Family Arts.

Dallas Bach Society will collaborate with Contemporary Ballet Dallas to turn a previously choreographed duet into a full-length ballet. The subject is Joseph Bologne, an 18th century conductor known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and will incorporate his music performed on period instruments. It’s set for October 2015.

Fine Arts Chamber Players are creating a multidisciplinary work called Universal Language, based on the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. World-folk ensemble The Obscure Dignitaries will join them for the performance Nov. 22 at the Dallas Museum of Art.

And the Dallas Opera’s grant will support the premier of Everest, a one-act opera composed by Jody Talbot and written by Gene Scheer, a frequent contributor to the opera. That’s scheduled for early 2015.

For now, here’s Skippyjon Jones:


Read more after the jump.



DALLAS – June 24, 2014. TACA (The Arts Community Alliance) has announced the grantees of the 2014 TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund to support the advancement of new works in the area of performing arts. The 2014 recipients of $100,000 in award money are Dallas Bach Society, Dallas Children’s Theater, Fine Arts Chamber Players, and The Dallas Opera. Each organization will receive $25,000.

Sixteen nationally recognized peer review panelists reviewed 14 applications to select the four beneficiaries. For the third year in a row, TACA sought input from an impressive collection of national arts practitioners, who judged each submission based on level of innovation, impact on the discipline and impact on the originator of the work.

“We are excited to announce this year’s beneficiaries, and we look forward to seeing their innovative work come to life in our community and have an impact on a national level,” said TACA’s President and Executive Director Rebecca Young. “We also applaud and sincerely thank Donna Wilhelm and all of the fund’s supporters for their contributions over the past three years to support the creation and development of new work in the Dallas community.”

The Donna Wilhelm Family has announced its continued support of the Fund at $100,000 each year for three additional years – 2015, 2016 and 2017. Donna Wilhelm, in whose family’s name the fund is established, remarked “Our hope with these New Works grants is to provide support for a transformational project, one that will serve as a catalyst for the organization to take the next step in their journey of artistic excellence.”

TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund grants for 2014 will support the following:

Dallas Bach Society will receive a $25,000 grant for a project with Contemporary Ballet Dallas, inspired by the life of Joseph Bologne, a Caribbean-born French virtuoso violinist, swordsman, vocal teacher to Marie Antoinette, and conductor of the late 18th century, known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Earlier this year, Catherine Turocy, award-winning co-founder of New York Baroque Dance Company, choreographed a duet to the music of Saint-Georges, commissioned by the French-American Chamber of Commerce of Dallas. Dallas Bach Society will expand this piece into a full-length ballet, choreographed by Valerie Shelton-Tabor, set to Saint-Georges music and performed on period instruments. Performances are scheduled for October 2015 at City Performance Hall.

Dallas Children’s Theater will receive a $25,000 grant for the development and world premiere of a new musical, Skippyjon Jones, based on the children’s book by New York Times best-selling author, Judy Schachner. The creative team is comprised of Dallas natives: award-winning playwright-in-residence Lynda Daugherty, an award-winning composer and lyricist, Nick Martin. Skippyjon Jones will be directed by Nancy Schaeffer, DCT’s Director of Education. The story, told in English and Spanish, addresses questions about personal identity, and how the main character copes with the loneliness and self-doubt that comes with any foray into an unfamiliar place. Dallas Children’s Theater will involve Vickery Meadow Learning Center, which will bring adult English language learners and their children to the theater as part of DCT’s Curtains Up on Literacy program. Skippyjon Jones marks Dallas Children’s Theater’s first co-production with Oregon Children’s Theater. Performances will take place January 23rd – February 27th at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts.

Fine Arts Chamber Players will receive $25,000 for the funding of Universal Language, a multidisciplinary new work with music by Margaret Barrett and libretto by David Silva based on the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It will be performed by Rachel LaViola, Kevin Butler, Michael Nesuda and Benjamin Croucher, the mezzo-soprano, acoustic bass, percussion and guitar/oud player that make up the local world-folk music ensemble The Obscure Dignitaries. This work will serve as a 25-minute musical response to the exhibit, Concentrations 57: Slavs and Tatars, which runs July through December at the Dallas Museum of Art. Universal Language will have its world premiere on Saturday, November 22, as part of Fine Arts Chamber Players free Bancroft Family Concerts at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Dallas Opera will receive a $25,000 grant for Everest, a world premier opera in one act created by composer Jody Talbot and Librettist Gene Scheer. The opera reimagines the tragic 1966 expedition to the summit the world’s tallest mountain. Based on more than 40 hours of interviews with survivors of the 1966 expedition, the heart of the opera shows the allure of Mount Everest: its harsh beauty, and the opportunity to triumph over overwhelming odds. Everest is the first opera for Talbot, who is well known for original music created onstage and screen. It is the fourth work by Scheer for The Dallas Opera. Everest will be conducted by the Dallas Opera’s Principal Guest Conductor, Nicole Paiement. Performances, at the Winspear Opera House, will take place January 30, February 1, 4 and 7, 2015.

Founded in 1966, TACA champions artistic excellence in performing arts organizations and encourages innovation, collaboration, and engagement through financial support, stewardship and resources. Since its inception, TACA has distributed more than $23 million to emerging and established performing arts organizations with budgets as small as $37,000 to as large as $30 million. Funds are raised through three signature events: the TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon, which honors one man and woman each year for outstanding volunteer support of the arts, TACA Party on the Green and the TACA Custom Auction Gala. In addition, TACA receives strong support from its Board of Governors, Founders Circle and Corporate Council. More information can be found at or by calling 214.520.3930.

ABOUT TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund
In January 2012, TACA launched a new grants initiative: the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund. This fund grants up to $100,000 each year to support the creation and performances of new work in Dallas County by one or more of TACA’s annual beneficiaries. This Fund was conceived to further establish North Texas as one of the nation’s major cultural centers fostering local development of innovative, adventurous and risk-worthy new work in the performing arts. TACA’s spectrum of performing arts includes dance, plays, musical theater, solo and choral vocal works, instrumental and spoken word performances. This Fund is designated to support new, previously unseen work that demonstrates focus on innovation and experimentation. This Fund is in addition to the $1.3 million granted in February to 46 local performing arts organizations. Applicants must be among those organizations selected to receive annual funding during the same application/funding cycle.

Recipients of the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund have included the following: African American Repertory Theater for homeschooled by Jonathan Norton (2012); Cara Mia Theatre for The Dreamers: A Bloodline by Cara Mia Artistic Ensemble (2012); Dallas Theater Center for Stagger Lee by Will Power and Justin Ellington (2012); Second Thought Theatre for Booth by Steen Walters and Erik Archilla (2013); Undermain Theatre for Abraham Zobell’s Home Movie: Final Reel by Len Jenkin (2013); and Voices of Change for Tibet Fantasia by Xi Wang (2013).

2014 National Panel Reviewers
Matt Albert Artist-in-Residency, Southern Methodist University
Nate Allen Artistic Director, The House Theatre
Gig Bolt Adjunct Professor, Columbia University
Roger Brunyate Chair of the Opera Department, Peabody/Johns Hopkins
Emilya Cachapero Director of Artistic Programs, Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
Diane Claussen Managing Director, Theatre and Interpretation Center, Northwestern
André De Shields Actor, Tony nominee, currently in the Dallas Theater Center’s The Fortress of Solitude
Oskar Eustis Artistic Director, The Public Theater
Kenneth Foster Director of Arts Leadership, Thornton School of Music, USC
Melanie Rios Glaser Artistic Director, the Wooden Floor
Kimberly Grigsby Musical director, conductor, arranger and musician
Parisa Khobodeh Dancer, Paul Taylor Dance Company
Cassie Meador Artistic Director, Dance Exchange
Roche Schulfer Executive Director, The Goodman Theatre
Paul Walsh Associate Professor of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale School of Drama
Sylvia Waters Artistic Director Emerita, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (Ailey II)