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NEA Grants $297,000 To Nine North Texas Arts Groups

by Jerome Weeks 2 Dec 2014 2:44 PM

The big winner is Big Thought with a $100,000 grant for its Dallas City of Learning program.


NEA-logo-colorAnd a hefty one-third of that $297,000 total goes to a single group, Big Thought for its Dallas City of Learning project, intended “to make imagination a part of everyday student learning.”

The NEA announced its Art Works grants for 2015 today, with a total of $29 million for arts projects across the country. Forty-three grants were for Texas-based groups, making up nearly $1.4 million dollars for the entire state.

In addition to the $100,000 going to Big Thought, the other top-line recipients include the Nasher Sculpture Center ($60,000) for its career-long retrospective tour of the works of pioneering African-American artist Melvin Edwards and the Dallas Opera ($50,000) for its world-premiere production of Everest, a one-act opera by composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer.  In Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Opera will receive $20,000 for its regional premiere of the post-apocalyptic opera, Dog Days, while in Denton, UNT has won $20,000 for an unusual world premiere, INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night, an interactive, multi-disciplinary work that will “allow the public to remix astrophysics data in real time as unique visual and sound compositions.”

Here are the details:


Big Thought
Arts Education
To support Dallas City of Learning.
A collective impact project of city agencies and community partners, the project’s goal is to make imagination a part of everyday student learning. The next phase of Big Thought’s collective impact work, the Dallas City of Learning project will increase access to quality out of school time arts programs. Through a network of educational experiences provided by city agencies, community partners, museums, and other arts education providers, students will be guided through an arts learning pathway of sequential, skill-building experiences. Student accomplishments will be recognized through digital badges, digital resumes documenting their advancements and interests to use when applying for college, scholarships, and employment. The impact of the program will be measured through a longitudinal study.


Childrens Chorus of Greater Dallas
Arts Education
To support the Downtown Chorus Training and Performance Program.
Underserved youth will participate in a weekly, sequential curriculum in the choral arts taught by experienced conductor-educators and accompanists. Students will receive training in bel canto technique and study classical choral repertoire, works by living composers, and folk-based music from around the world. Students will perform at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, at a free SingOut! community concert series, and other local venues. Advanced students will serve as the official children’s chorus of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The program draws participants from many communities throughout Dallas.

Dallas Opera
To support the premiere of “Everest” by composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer.
The one-act opera is an imaginative retelling of the true events that occurred on Mount Everest in 1996, when a failed mountaineering expedition claimed the lives of eight climbers in a single storm, including a skilled guide and two career expedition leaders. The creative team may comprise director Leonard Foglia and projection designer Elaine McCarthy. The artistic team may include conductor Nicole Paiement, tenor Andrew Bidlack (Rob Hall), and bass Kevin Burdette (Beck Weathers).

Dallas Symphony Association, Inc.
To support a residency and commission by composer and pianist Conrad Tao.
Project plans include Tao performing with the orchestra and for the premiere of his own work, as well as the curation of the new ReMix series of genre-bending experimental orchestral performances. Tao also plans to create a series of contemporary chamber performances in collaboration with orchestra musicians. Educational activities will include master classes and workshops with local students.

Kitchen Dog Theater Company
Theater & Musical Theater
To support the development and production of new plays in the New Works Festival 2015.
The annual festival will comprise a mainstage production, staged readings, and the Playwrights Under Progress (PUP) Fest, which consists of staged readings of short plays written by local high school students. Each year, more than 400 scripts are submitted from around the world and as many as six scripts receive a week-long workshop and a staged reading with moderated audience discussion afterwards.

Nasher Sculpture Center
To support the presentation of “Melvin Edwards: Five Decades.”
Edwards (b.1937), a pioneering figure in African-American art, has redefined the modernist tradition of welded sculpture. The exhibition will present 65 works -including his Lynch Fragments, which fuse chains, railroad spikes, and other tools together in powerfully compressed configurations emblematic of the constructive possibilities of resistance. The presentation of his large-scale sculptures, site-specific installations, and works on paper, will provide a full range of Edwards’s accomplishments. The first major touring retrospective of Edwards’s work in more than twenty years, the exhibition will travel to several additional venues after its Dallas debut.

Pegasus Musical Society
To support a new production of “Iphigenia en Tracia” by composer Jose de Nebra and librettist Nicolas Gonzalez Martinez.
The Orchestra of New Spain’s creative team may include set designer Nicolas Boni, costume designer Antonio Bartolo, stage director Gustavo Tambascio, and Joseph Jones who will c
reate the English translation. The opera will be sung in Spanish with English supertitles. An integral part of the company’s outreach is to the local Hispanic community. Performances will take place at the Dallas City Performance Hall in February 2016.

University of North Texas
Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works
To support “INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night.”
An interdisciplinary team will create an interactive multidisciplinary artwork and art-science installation. The team will produce software that will allow the public to remix astrophysics data in real time as unique visual and sound compositions, as well as serve as a web repository to share participant remixes. A mobile web app also will be created to explore and interact with the remixes generated by installation participants. Using nearly 300,000 images of the universe captured by the robotic Antarctic telescope CSTAR, visitors will create personal digital remixes that generate unique visuals and sounds.

Fort Worth Opera Association, Inc.
Fort Worth,TX
To support the regional premiere of “Dog Days” by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek.
Based on the story of the same name by Judith Budnitz, the opera told through the perspective of 13-year old Lisa is a tale of an apocalyptic world and a family facing starvation. The work is scored for six singers and the eight-person instrumental ensemble Newspeak, and will be produced as part of the Opera of the Americas ten-year initiative to
produce new operas by contemporary American composers. The creative team may comprise conductor Alan Pierson, project director Robert Woodruff, and Artistic Director Beth Morrison. Performances will occur at Scott Theatre in May 2015.