Austin plans jubilee weekend for playwright Terrence McNally.

Terrence McNally, who grew up in Corpus Christi, ranks among the top two or three playwrights from Texas. In Austin, the Ransom Center at the University of Texas holds his papers, while Zach Theatre has become something of the official home for performances of his plays and musicals.

Distinguished playwright Terrence McNally. Contributed by Michael Nagle.

The two groups have teamed up to salute McNally on his 80th birthday with a weekend of activities.

Nov. 10: Theater backers and producers Carolyn and Marc Seriff give a special dinner for the playwright at their home.

Nov. 11: The Texas Union Theater will screen “Every Act of Life,” a documentary about McNally’s life. Zach artistic director Dave Steakley will interview the playwright from the stage afterwards. A reception will follow at the Ransom Center.

RELATED: ‘Ragtime’ is an American classic.

Nov. 12: Zach will present a birthday gala performance that will include actors Richard Thomas, F. Murray Abraham and John Glover. They will highlight the McNally’s career which includes Tony Award wins for “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “Master Class,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Ragtime.”

To RSVP and purchase tickets, visit www.zachtheatre.org/mcnally

Bloomberg Philanthropies rewards 26 Austin cultural groups with grants

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Bloomberg Philanthropies has named 26 Austin cultural groups that will receive significant grants as well as management training as part of a $43 million second-wave campaign to strengthen small-to-medium-sized American arts nonprofits.

The charitable foundation — established by businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — chose the groups by invitation only in selective cities.

“It was a complete shock,” said Ron Berry, artistic director of Austin recipient Fusebox Festival. “I was in the office reading an article about how Bloomberg was expanding into our region and remarked to the team about how exciting that was, and then we got an email from them about five minutes later.”

Sylvia Orozco, executive director of the Mexic-Arte Museum, is as thrilled with the grant now as she was with her group’s first in 1984. Daulton Venglar/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“The arts inspire people, provide jobs and strengthen communities,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “This program is aimed at helping some of the country’s most exciting cultural organizations reach new audiences and expand their impact.”

In May, Austin was named alongside Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. to receive a second round of Bloomsberg grants valued at $43 million. Rare for this type of giving, the money is intended to cover operational expenses rather than specific programs.

RELATED: We salute $43 million in Bloomberg arts gifts.

“We wanted to reach cities that we thought had a really strong mix in the way they were serving up arts and culture,” Kate Levin, who oversees arts programs for Bloomberg, told the New York Times in May.

Previously, the program had given $65 million to smaller groups in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In response to the news, Austin arts leaders talked about immediate needs, such as rent or replacement facilities and equipment, but also longer term strategies like marketing and development.

Pianist Michelle Schumann said: ‘The grant comes with a wealth of consulting services and access to experts in the fields of marketing and development.’ Contributed

“Because our building has been sold, we must move in two years,” said Chris Cowden, longtime leader of Women & Their Work Gallery.”We have decided that, to avoid ever higher rents and the instability that brings, we must buy a building. Since the Bloomberg grant is earmarked for operating expenses, money that we would normally have to use for rent and salaries can now be set aside in a fund that will be used to buy that building.”

Finding new audiences is a high priority for long-established groups that have not reached their potential in the community.

“We are investing most of the funds into marketing because that is what we believe will make the strongest impact,” said Ann Ciccolella, artistic director of Austin Shakespeare. “I am personally thrilled! It’s taken a long time to get to a $500,000 budget and now it’s time for growth. With so many arts groups in the city learning new tactics together, I am hoping for powerful results.”

For some groups, the grant money takes a back seat to training. Bloomberg’s arts innovation and management program was devised by DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland.

“The grant comes with a wealth of consulting services and access to experts in the fields of marketing and development,” said Michelle Schumann, artistic director of the Austin Chamber Music Center. “I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to ‘up our game.’”

The Bloomberg group instructs recipients to keep mum about the gift amounts, but an informal poll suggests that the grants equal 10 percent of their existing operating budgets.

“I am pumped,” said Jenny Larson, one of Salvage Vanguard Theater‘s artistic directors. “This funding could not have come at a better time for us. Being in a place of transition with the venue and staff has made us feel off balance. This support gives me hope and confidence that over the next two years we can create a solid foundation for SVT to continue to grow from.”

What do local arts leaders want to do with the windfall?

“Everything!” said  Lara Toner Haddock, artistic director of Austin Playhouse. “Seriously there’s always a huge wish list of what we could do with extra funds. An unrestricted grant is so welcome.”

“I am as thrilled and excited as I remember being when we received our first grant ever in 1984,” said Sylvia Orozco, head of the Mexic-Arte Museum. “I am glowing! When you are young and daring, you believe you can do anything and accomplish everything you dream of. That’s how I felt then and that is how I again feel now.”

26 Austin cultural groups will receive Bloomberg Philanthropies grants

Allison Orr Dance (Forklift Danceworks)

Anthropos Arts

Austin Chamber Music Center

Austin Classical Guitar Society

Austin Creative Alliance

Austin Film Festival

Austin Film Society

Austin Music Foundation

Austin Opera

Austin Playhouse

Austin Shakespeare

Big Medium

Center For Women & Their Work

Chorus Austin

Conspirare

Creative Action

Esquina Tango Cultural Society

Fusebox Festival

Mexic-Arte Museum

Penfold Theatre Company

Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance

Roy Lozano Ballet Folklorico De Texas

Rude Mechs

Salvage Vanguard Theater

Telling Project

Vortex Repertory Company

UPDATE:  Lara Toner Haddock’s name was missing from this story in an earlier post.

Dates set for 2019 Texas Medal of Arts Awards

The Texas Cultural Trust, an advocacy group, has set the dates for its next celebrity-sated Texas Medal of Arts Awards ceremony. The multi-part fandango — which is also intended to update state leaders on cultural funding — will take place Feb. 26-27 at the Blanton Museum of ArtLong Center for the Performing Arts and elsewhere in Austin.

Texas Medal of Arts dates set. A-List/Austin360

The group has had no trouble attracting big names — from Willie Nelson and Eva Longoria to Walter Cronkite and Debbie Allen — to the event. The most recent blow-out at Bass Concert Hall in 2017 was a highlight of the social season.

RELATED: Soaking up the glamour of Texas Medal of Arts.

The new event co-chairs are Leslie Blanton from the world of cultural philanthropy and Leslie Ward from the corporate (AT&T) halls of external and legislative affairs.

The group, now overseen by Executive Director Heidi Marquez Smith, has given out 108 medals since 2001 when the initial class of honorees was assembled at the Paramount Theatre. The evolving list of categories: music, film, dance, visual arts, arts patron (corporate, foundation and individual), media/multimedia, television, architecture, theatre, arts education, literary arts, design, and lifetime achievement.

 

Your input needed for Texas Medal of Arts Awards

Since 2001, the Texas Cultural Trust, an advocacy group, has been honoring our state’s luminaries through the Texas Medal of Arts. The laurels are bestowed every other year at one of the most glamorous galas in Texas. The most recent one in 2017 at Bass Concert Hall was a blow-out.

John Paul and Eloise DeJoria win a 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Award for their corporate philanthropy with Patron and Paul Mitchell. Contributed.

RELATED: What the arts mean to great Texas artists and patrons.

Now the Trust wants your input.

Send your nominations in by April 5, 2018 for the February 2019 edition of the honors. Categories include architecture, arts education, arts patron (corporate, foundation or individual), dance, design, film, lifetime achievement, literary arts, media/multimedia, music, television, theater and visual arts.

RELATED: Soaking up the glamour of Texas Medal of Arts.

For a complete list of past honorees, go here. The 2017 winners included Eloise and John Paul DeJoria with Paul Mitchell/Patron, Kris Kristofferson, Lynn Wyatt, Lauren Anderson, Yolanda Adams, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Tobin Endowmen, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Leo Villareal, Frank Welch, John Phillip Santos, Scott Pelley and Kenny Rogers.

Time to plan your fall season at the Long Center

A picture of Austin’s fall arts season is falling into place. The latest booking news is from the Long Center for the Performing Aarts. We rearranged, condensed and edited for style their fine descriptions of the following.

Notice that the fall season begins in July. Why not? We only wish the weather would comply.

Also, there’s a lot of other offerings, including Summer Stock Austin, at the center that aren’t part of this season package, so stay alert.

A character from Legend of Zelda. Contributed

“The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses
”


Dell Hall, July 7

Coinciding with the newly released “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and Nintendo’s new Switch, this returns to the Long Center stage on July 7 for one performance only. Now in its fourth season and featuring new music and video, the concert comes to life with a 66-piece orchestra, 24-person choir.

“Fun Home”

Dell Hall, Aug. 11-13

The winner of five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction, this unusual show is based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 best-selling graphic memoir.

“An Evening with The Piano Guys

Dell Hall, Aug. 23

The Piano Guys have become an internet sensation by way of their immensely successful series of self-made music videos, leading to over 500 million YouTube views.

Carrie Rodriguez. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

“An Evening with Carrie Rodriguez
”

Rollins Studio Theatre, Aug. 30

Austin native Carrie Rodriguez is a fiddle playing singer songwriter who approaches her country-blues sound with an “Ameri-Chicana” attitude.  Her latest release, “Lola,” takes her back to her ranchera musical roots and was hailed as the “perfect bicultural album” by NPR’s Felix Contreras.

Manual Cinema: “Lula Del Ray”

Rollins Studio Theatre,  Sept. 13-14          

This troupe of theatrical artists are not just puppeteers, but creators of otherworldly landscapes through a striking combination of live actors, old-school projectors and silhouette magic.

“Kaki King: The Neck is a Bridge to the Body 
”

Rollins Studio Theatre, Sept. 16

Hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as “a genre unto herself,” composer, guitarist, and recording artist Kaki King performs her latest work — a simultaneous homage and deep exploration of her instrument of choice. In this bold new multi-media performance, Kaki deconstructs the guitar’s boundaries as projection mapping explores texture, nature, and creation.

Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”

Dell Hall, Sept. 30

Part coming-of-age story and part divine commentary, Terrence Malick’s star-studded and slow-burning art film, “The Tree of Life,” sparked a dialogue within the industry about memory, the meaning of life, and the role that film can play in representing those ideas. Screening with live score performed by Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Austin.

“Star Wars: A New Hope”

Dell Hall, Oct. 11–12

John William’s legendary “Star Wars” score didn’t just enhance a great story, it gave life to an entire galaxy. From “Binary Sunset” to the “Imperial March,” the themes of “A New Hope” ushered in a renaissance of film music, the likes of which Hollywood had never seen before. A special screening with live score performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

“Shopkins Live!”

Dell Hall, Oct. 21

This lights up the stage in this premiere live production packed with show-stopping performances featuring the Shoppies and Shopkins characters taking the stage with an all-new storyline, music, and videos. Join Jessicake, Bubbleisha, Peppa-Mint, Rainbow Kate, Cocolette, and Polli Polish as they perform the coolest dance moves, sing the latest pop songs, and prepare for Shopville’s annual “Funtastic Food and Fashion Fair.”

Jeff Lofton. Contributed by Claire Newman.

“The Jeff Lofton Electric Thang
”

Rollins Studio Theatre, Oct. 25

Jazz artist Jeff Lofton – together with his groups The Jeff Lofton Trio and his Electric Thang – has quickly become a household name around Austin’s low-key bars and jazz lounges.

An evening with Maureen Dowd and Carl Hulse In Conversation

Dell Hall, Saturday Nov. 18

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, Maureen Dowd, and award-winning author and the Times’ Chief Washington Correspondent, Carl Hulse, will examine the state of the nation one year following the most divisive presidential election in American history. Join us for an evening of incisive dialogue as Dowd and Hulse discuss how we got here and what lies ahead.

“Santa on the Terrace”

City Terrace, Nov. 24 

Bring the family and join us on the City Terrace and take some time out of the busiest holiday of the year to celebrate the season. Bring the kids for a free photo with Santa and enjoy holiday treats, activities and entertainment, all overlooking the best view in Austin!

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical”

Dell Hall, Nov. 24-25

The favorite TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage in this beloved adaptation. Come see all of your favorite characters from the special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, and of course, Rudolph brought to life.

Graham Reynolds. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

“Graham Reynolds Ruins the Holidays”

Rollins Studio Theatre, Dec. 20

Composer and bandleader, Graham Reynolds, along with some of Austin’s best musicians wreak musical havoc with an explosive set of holiday favorites. By playing most of them in a minor key, Reynolds and his band bring a new perspective to these season standards.

“A Christmas Story: The Musical”

Dell Hall, Dec. 29–31

After a smash-hit Broadway run garnering three Tony-Award nominations including Best Musical, this Christmas classic returns for another year. Based on the perennial holiday movie favorite, the story takes place in 1940s Indiana, where a bespectacled boy named Ralphie wants only one thing for Christmas: an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot range Model Air Rifle.

 

I want to see virtually every show in Texas Performing Arts’ next season

Nine years ago, I told Kathy Panoff, then incoming director of Texas Performing Arts, that she was a “firecracker.” Well, she’s still lighting up the sky.

Tonight on the Bass Concert Hall stage at the University of Texas, she sent up blazing bottle rockets for her group’s 2017-2018 season, and I want to see virtually ever show on the bill.

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Start off, as almost everybody does, with its Broadway in Austin partnership. I’ll sign up right now for “Rent,” “The King and I,” “Finding Neverland,” “School of Rock,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” “The Book of Mormon” and “An American in Paris.”

Yes, even “Rent,” which I’ve grown to love over the past 20 years, mostly because of a Texas State University version with — thank you! — age-appropriate actors. Hello!

And guess what? If you don’t sign up for the 2017-2018 season, forget getting tickets to “Hamilton” the next season. The Broadway series already has added 3,000 new subscribers in anticipation.

RELATED: Broadway smash “Hamilton” coming to Austin in 2018-2019 season.

At the top of my list from the non-Broadway season are three cabaret shows: Storm Large & Le Bonheur, Ute Lemper’s “Last Tango in Berlin” and Seth Rudetsky‘s “Deconstructing Broadway.” It’s like Broadway, too, but refined to the nth degree.

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I was also very much attracted to the dance groups: Che Malambo (“Machismo in a jar”), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ezralow Dance’s “Open” and Abraham.In.Motion‘s “Live! The Realest MC.” Two I’ve seen before, the other two sizzled in projected videos.

Of the musical selections, I am jazzed to see the Philip Glass Ensemble play “Koyaanisqatsi” live — my first Glass back in 1982 — and Chanticleer doing “Soldier.”

Playing to my jazz affections are Kurt Elling with the SwinglesMonty Alexander Harlem-Kinston Express. 

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Also on the bill are Spanish BrassDover Quartet, Sergei Babayan, Sergio & Odair, guitars and Avi Avital, mandolin, the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and University of Texas Jazz Orchestra with Conrad Herwig — along some hybrid shows, such as Fifth House Ensemble performing music from the game “Journey” live as it is played and “Musical Thrones: A Parody.”

Straight theater has not been forgotten: “The Crucible” and “Sancho: An Act of Remembrance.”

How am I going to see all this? I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

See ‘La La Land’ set to live music in Austin

What could be better than watching — or re-watching — Oscar runner-up “La La Land” on the big screen? Watching the musical on the big screen set to live music performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

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The tuner won six Academy Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Original Song. On June 30, composer Justin Horowitz‘s music will provide the fodder for the symphony’s grand screening.

RELATED: Oscars 2017: ‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture after ‘La La Land’ mistakenly announced.

Ticks go on sale March 10. They will be available online at TheLongCenter.org or by calling 512-474-5664.

For groups of 10 and more, call 512-457-5150 or email groupsales@thelongcenter.org.

City seeking “Faces of Austin” film submissions

 The city of Austin looking for short films for its next “Faces of Austin” program.

From the city’s news release:

The City of Austin invites Austin-area filmmakers to submit their work to Faces of Austin 2017. The Faces of Austin program showcases short films by local filmmakers, reflecting the diverse faces, voices, and experiences of our city. Submitted films must be under 10 minutes in length and must be filmed in Austin or highlight an Austin topic or organization. Both fiction and nonfiction works are acceptable. Preference will be given to films that are about Austin’s artists and Austin’s creative community.

The films selected for Faces of Austin will have a premiere screening during the SXSW Film Conference in March 2017, be shown on ATXN and will also receive a “Judge’s Choice” designation from a special guest judge.

"Art and Labor," a short documentary chronicling the design and fabrication of a piece of public art in Austin, Texas. Directed by Ann Armstrong.
Still “Art and Labor,” a short documentary chronicling the design and fabrication of a piece of public art in Austin, Texas. Directed by Ann Armstrong.

DEADLINE: January 23, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Film Requirements:

  • 10 minutes maximum length
  • By an Austin-area filmmaker or commissioned through an Austin organization
  • Original non-fiction or fiction work no older than 3 years old
  • Filmed in Austin or highlights Austin-area topics or organizations
  • Does not violate copyright law by using copy written work, including music
  • Does not solicit funds or a particular political call to action
  • Must be appropriate to show in a public setting to an audience of all ages
  • May not be also selected by SXSW as part of its other Short Film Exhibitions
  • Preference given to films tabout Austin’s artists and Austin’s creative community.
  • • Applicants must be 18 or older

Examples of Film Submissions:

  • Documentary about a local organization, place, issue, or historical event
  • Music video featuring Austin bands
  • Narrative set in and/or filmed in Austin
  • Artistic video montage that highlights Austin

Application:

Download the application. Email competed application forms. Please put “Faces_Lastname” in the subject line.

Selection Process:

A Selection Panel comprising project advisors, media experts, and City staff will review each artist’s work and associated materials submitted by the project deadline. Selected submissions will meet all of the requirements and demonstrate a high quality. The City of Austin reserves the right to disqualify materials deemed offensive or inappropriate to show in a public setting. A “Judge’s Choice” will be selected from among the panel’s top-rated submissions.

 

In Austin, you can see what inspired Drake’s “Hotline Bling”

Since the release of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” video, more than a few noticers have noticed that the visual resemble the work of James Turrell, the visionary artist who for a half century has fearlessly experimented with light and color.

This week, in an interview with the Washington Post, Turrell said he’s enjoyed a little of the pop culture limelight since the video’s release.

“He honored my work and I was flattered by that,” Turrell told the Post. “Actually, I’ve enjoyed a lot more attention since he got involved.”

The Canadian rapper is apparently a bit of a contemporary art aficiando.  Said Turrell: “Drake went through my exhibition. I did meet him in Los Angeles, and he was in the spaces that I did do there, and has some images from that.”

In Austin you can see for yourself what Drake found artistically inspiring.

The permanent installation is on top of the student activity building on campus.

 

A view through the aperture in James Turrell’s “The Color Inside,” a permanent installation at the University of Texas.
A view through the aperture in James Turrell’s “The Color Inside,” a permanent installation at the University of Texas.

Austin animator’s Academy Award-nominated short screens at Bullock Museum

Earlier this year, Austin animator and artist Don Hertzfeldt netted an Academy Award nomination for best animated short film for “World of Tomorrow.” The poignant sci-fi tale finds a young girl, Emily, launched on a soul-wrenching journey where her third-generation clone contacts her from 227 years in the future.

Now, through Oct. 7, the 16-minute “World of Tomorrow” screens daily at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Screenings are 12:30 p.m. (perfect for a lunchtime getaway!) and 2:30 p.m. daily except Sunday when it screens at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $3-$5.

 

Still from Hertzfeldt's Academy Award nominated short film "World of Tomorrow."
Still from Hertzfeldt’s Academy Award-nominated short film “World of Tomorrow.”

Info here: http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/visit/calendar/world-of-tomorrow-08052016

Hertzfeldt used his 4-year-old niece Winona to voice the part of the little girl, recording her when the two drew pictures together and talked about the world. From these raw sessions, Hertzfeldt used his niece’s candid reactions to craft the story of Emily Prime meeting her future self.

Accompanying the screenings at the Bullock is a small exhibit featuring Herztfeldt’s drawings.

Critical response to Hertsfeldt’s short has been resoundingly congratulatory. On its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, the film netted the Grand Jury Prize for Short Film. And Rolling Stone called “World of Tomorrow” one the best animated films ever.