Linda Daugherty and Nick Martin have received a TACA grant for their musical version of <em>Skippyjon Jones</em> at Dallas Children\'s Theater, a co-production with Oregon Children\'s Theatre

Third Round of TACA New Works Grants Given

100K from the Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund is split between four organizations: Dallas Bach Society, Dallas Children's Theater, Dallas Opera and Fine Arts Chamber Players.

published Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Photo: Robert Hart
Linda Daugherty and Nick Martin have received a TACA grant for their musical version of Skippyjon Jones at Dallas Children's Theater, a co-production with Oregon Children's Theatre

Dallas — The third round of TACA's Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund has been announced, and this year's four recipients—each receiving $25,000—span the major disciplines of the performing arts, with music, opera, theater and dance represented. Most of these grantees are producing the awarded works in collaboration with other organizations.

This shows that the awards are getting more competitive, considering that of the six grants given in the first two years of the award (three in 2012 and three in 2013), only one of those was not for a theater work (Voices of Change received a grant for composition in 2013). All but one of those six has not yet been seen locally (Will Power's Stagger Lee, awarded $50,000 in 2012, has been workshopped several times and will appear at DTC in 2015).

It was announced at the TACA's annual grant announcements in February that the Wilhelm New Works grants have been extended through 2017, with $100,000 given each year.

The awards were chosen by 16 nationally recognized peer review panelists, and were chosen from 14 applications.

This year's awards go to:

  • Dallas Bach Society for a collaboration with Contemporary Ballet Dallas, an original ballet based on the life of violinist, conductor and swordsman Joseph Bologne, who was Marie Antoinette's vocal teacher.
  • Dallas Children's Theater, for in-house composer/lyricist/librettist team of Linda Daugherty and Nick Martin for a musical version of the children's book Skippyjon Jones.
  • The Dallas Opera for the world premiere opera Everest by composer Jody Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer.
  • Fine Arts Chamber Players for 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.


Read more about the projects, the grant and the selection process in the TACA news release:

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 23 – February 27 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 premiere 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) Thanks For Reading

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Third Round of TACA New Works Grants Given
100K from the Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund is split between four organizations: Dallas Bach Society, Dallas Children's Theater, Dallas Opera and Fine Arts Chamber Players.
by Mark Lowry

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