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SMU Meadows Receives $5,000 TACA Grant

MSA eligible to apply for additional TACA funding from new Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund

SMU Meadows School of the Arts recently received a $5,000 grant from TACA (The Arts Community Alliance), a leading umbrella arts organization that has distributed over $20 million to North Texas performing arts organizations over the past five decades.

As a recipient of the 2012 grant, Meadows is now eligible to apply for additional funding from TACA via a new fund designed specifically for new works of performing arts. The Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund was made possible by arts champion Donna Wilhelm and by TACA board members, who contributed $200,000 and $100,000, respectively, to the new initiative.

Zannie Voss, TACA board member and Vice Chair for Programs, and chair of SMU’s Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship Division, says the new funding will help inspire arts organizations to innovate and experiment, which is particularly challenging to do during tough economic times.

“Particularly in a down economy, many arts organizations cling to shows they know will fill a predictable number of seats,” says Voss. “But to grow as an arts community and re-energize the public, new, fresh works are imperative. The new Wilhelm funding eases some of the risk that comes with developing and producing original works in the performing arts.”

The idea for the New Works Fund arose out of TACA’s annual “State of the Arts” discussions, led by a panel of nationally recognized arts leaders each fall. Moderated by Voss in 2010 and 2011, the lively discussions have tackled topics such as attracting and retaining diverse audiences, cultivating artistic innovation, and engaging communities in more profound ways.

Meadows Dean José Bowen says the new works funding pool is a great thing for Dallas. “It is a result of lots of discussions, many of which have been convened by Zannie and others at SMU. Zannie in particular organized a panel discussion for TACA's State of the Arts where the need for new works was a constant theme. Meadows has played its part by creating the Meadows Prize.

“This is an example of how we in the Dallas arts community share priorities,” says Bowen. “We all benefit from this gift and program. But it is also a demonstration of how Meadows is setting the tone. Yes, universities mostly talk, but that talk can become action. We are helping turn ideas into reality in Dallas.”

Applications for the new grants are due to TACA by March 9, 2012; awards are expected to be announced on June 4.

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