NEA dispatches almost $500,000 to Austin arts

The National Endowment for the Arts today announced almost $83 million in grants nationwide.

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The NEA has awarded $20,000 to Collide Arts to remount “Traffic Jam.” Contributed

Of that, $2.5 million went to Texas. Almost $1 million of that was given to the Texas Commission on the Arts to pass along to artists and arts groups statewide. In fact, of the $83 million that the NEA handed out today, almost $51 million went to its state partners like the Commission.

RELATED: Legislature cuts Texas arts funding 28 percent

Austin’s share of the NEA grants is distorted by the fact that the Texas Commission is located in the city but benefits artists statewide. Some of that will be spent here, but we don’t know yet how much.

Interestingly, the $100,000 that Austin’s Creative Action garnered was for a partnershiip with Six Square, a group that seeks to preserve and promote the historical and cultural legacy of African-American in East Austin. Six Square is a designated Texas Cultural Arts District, but the state legislature declined to fund $5 million for the more than 30 such districts statewide.

Unless I’m missing something, these are the Austin beneficiaries:

Forklift Danceworks: $40,000 (in two grants)

Austin Chamber Music Center: $20,000

Austin Classical Guitar: $55,000

Austin School District: $100,000

Big Medium: $20,000

KLRU: $10,000

Austin Cultural Arts Division: $50,000

Collide: $20,000

Conspirare: $30,000

Creative Action: $100,000

Texas Folklife: $35,000*

*UPDATE: Texas Folklife received an additional $38,000 grant for its statewide work.

The warm, loving, slightly boozy embrace of the Austin Critics Table Awards

The Austin Critics Table Awards ceremony was long. Very long. A record four hours at Cap City Comedy Club.

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Yet the 25th anniversary celebration of all things arts might have been the best one ever. Because every minute was a warm, loving, slightly boozy embrace between artists and the writers who cover them.

I loved every tribute from the critics and (almost) every enthusiastic and authentic acceptance speech. (Why do some people choose a moment of honor to be mean?) Bonus: a witty proclamation from Austin Mayor Steve Adler for the occasion

RELATED: Behold: The Austin Critics Table Awards nominees

Some people — well, a lot of people — left early. But then they missed the best acceptance speech of the evening, given by Christine Hoang, who shared the David Mark Cohen New Play Award with Lisa Thompson, and who talked about how each word from her reviews reduced her “imposter anxiety,” and whose bilingual play, “A Girl Named Sue,” represented a social and cultural leap for the descendants of Vietnamese refugees and their families.

The big news, however, was the expansion of the Critics Table to 20 members including web-based writers, a move I’ve strongly supported for years. The Table began with just five of us newspapermen, sole survivor Robert Faires reminded us — I no longer vote — and over the years has included more than 50 writers.

AUSTIN CRITCS TABLE AWARDS 2016-2017

W.H. “Deacon” Crain Award for Student Work: Madison Williams, Emily Ott

Lighting Design: Jason Amato (“Atlantis: A Puppet Opera”), Patrick Anthony (“A Perfect Robot,” “Old Times”)

Group Gallery Exhibition: “The First Horizons of Juno: Christina Coleman, Jane Hugentober, Candice Lin, Karen Lofgren, Christine Rebet, Alice Wang and Chantal Wnuk,” Mass Gallery

Museum Exhibition: “Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser,” Blanton Museum of Art

Singer: Donnie Ray Albert (“The Manchurian Candidate,” “I Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes”), Liz Cass (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance”), David Adam Moore (“The Manchurian Candidate”), Paul Sanchez (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” “A Christmas Carol”)

Chamber Performance: “I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes,” Living Paper Song Project

Original Composition/Score: “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” Graham Reynolds & Lagartijas Tirades al Sol

Scenic Design: Chris Conard (“Totalitarians,” “The Drowning Girls”), Desiderio Roybal (“Clybourn Park,” “The Price,” “The Herd”)

Short Work, Dance: “Camille: A Story of Art and Love,” Jennifer Hart

Solo Gallery Exhibition: “Tammie Rubin: Before I Knew You, I Missed You,” De Stijl Podium for Art

Artist: Deborah Roberts

Costume Design: Susan Branch Towne (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”)

Dancer: Alexa Caparedo (“Tikling(bird),” “Loose Gravel”), Amy Morrow (“Hiraeth,” “We’ve Been Here Before”)

Ensemble Dance: Dance Repertory Theatre (“Momentum”)

Gallery, Body of Work: “Museum of Human Achievement”

Independent Project: “Workout with Erica Nix,” Erica Nix

Ensemble, Classical: Schumann Chamber Players

Classical Concert/Opera: “The Manchurian Candidate,” Austin Opera

Sound Design: Lowell Bartholomee, “Clybourne Park,” “Fahrenheit 451”

Direction: Jenny Lavery (“The Drowning Girls”), Lily Wolff (“Lungs”)

Dance Concert: “Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees,” Sharon Marroquin, produced by Latino Art Residency Project, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

Choreographer: Lisa Nicks, “Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter”

Digital Design: Greg Emetaz, “The Manchurian Candidate”

David Mark Cohen New Play Award: “A Girl Named Sue” (Christine Hoang), “Underground” (Lisa Thompson)

Ensemble, Theater: “Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe,” Doctuh Mistah Productions

Actor: Liz Beckham (“Lungs,” Neva,” “Clybourne Park), Chase Brewer (“Hand to God”), Michael Joplin (“Lungs”), Amber Quick (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Herd”)

Production, Theater: Clybourne Park (Penfold Theatre), “The Drowning Girls” (Theatre en Bloc), “The Great Society (Zach Theatre)

Special Citations: Luis Armando Ortiz Gutierrez, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Andrea Ariel, Babs George, “Rambunctious,” Jennifer Sherburn for “11:11,” Theatre Synesthesia, Sandy Yamamoto, Thr3e Zisters,” Amy Downing.

Austin Arts Hall of Fame: Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith, Zell Miller III, Kate Warren

UPDATE: Thanks to Robert Faires for correcting some embarrassing typos in names banged out quickly this morning.

Giving City toasts Austin Critics Table Awards

If you missed the short history of the Austin Critics Table Awards written by Monica Maldonado Williams of Giving City and published in Sunday’s American-Statesman, below find a snippet. The free awards ceremony returns 7 p.m. June 5 at Cap City Comedy Club.

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The Austin Critics Table in in 1995. L-R: John Bustin, Barry Pineo, Michael Barnes, Jamie Smith Cantara, Belinda Acosta, David Mark Cohen, Jerry Conn and Robert Faires. (Bustin and Cohen are deceased.) Mark Fort/American-Statesman

FULL STORY:  At 25 years old, an arts awards event learns to adapt.

“While almost all Austin arts organizations operate as nonprofits, the caliber of the art has become more professional and innovative, said co-founder Robert Faires. To reflect the range of art, this year’s Critics Table judges have adjusted the categories to make them less theater-heavy.

“There’s more diversity among the artists and the art forms in Austin, but this is not just a participation award,” said David Wyatt, a long-time volunteer for the event and the owner of a public relations agency that specializes in the art organizations. “Artists have to wait years to the point where they’ve developed their craft and matured as an artists to get recognized. It’s very meaningful.”

RELATED: See this year’s nominees for the Austin Critics Table Awards.

“In addition to adjusting the categories, Faires has had to adjust the roster of judges. As the last of the founders participating, he realized that the awards should include the new breed of art writers, especially those who publish primarily online. This year’s judges include writers from websites and blogs like Broadway World Austin, Austin Entertainment Weekly, Arts & Culture Texas, and Conflict of Interest TX.”

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Monica Maldonado Williams. Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

BACKGROUND: Monica Maldonado Williams cracks the charity code.

Behold: The 2017 Austin Critics Table Awards nominees

More than two decades ago, a half dozen ink-stained wretches sat down over obligatory martinis at a 24-hour deli to honor Austin artists. Thus was born the Austin Critics Table Awards, which return to Cap City Comedy Club on Monday, June 5.

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During the intervening years, artists, critics and award categories have come and gone. One constant: Robert Faires. The Austin Chronicle arts editor has shaped the awards in his image: generous, omnivorous and witty.  He’s always been as well the diligent note taker and records keeper for the disparate group of staff and freelance critics.

I retired from the Table — named after our usual meeting spot at Katz’s on West Sixth Street — many years ago when my wider wanderings led me to write about Austin’s people, places, culture and history.

I remained, however, passionately loyal to the arts. And more recently, I’ve written quite a few arts news and features stories. It’s important to emphasize, however, that I am no longer a critic. To be sure, opinion informs my reporting, but you won’t find any recent reviews under my byline in our archives.

It gives me considerable pleasure, then, to share with our readers the work of those staff and freelance reviewers which today culminates in the 2017 nominations for the Austin Critics Table Awards:
THEATRE
Production
Buyer and Cellar, Zach Theatre
Clybourne Park, Penfold Theatre
The Drowning Girls, Theatre en Bloc
The Great Society, Zach Theatre
Hand to God, Capital T Theatre
The Hotel Vanya, or A Metaphysical-Paradigm at the End of Everythingness, Natalie George Productions
Lungs, Hyde Park Theatre
Nevermore, the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Doctuh Mistuh Productions
Song About Himself, Capital T Theatre
The Totalitarians, Theatre en Bloc

Direction
Ann Ciccolella, Old Times
Lindsay Doleshal, Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Katie Green, The Shift
Nathan Jerkins, Clybourne Park
Jenny Larson, With Great Difficulty Alice Sits
Jenny Lavery, The Drowning Girls
Mark Pickell, Song About Himself
Rudy Ramirez, A Perfect Robot
Dave Steakley, The Great Society
Lily Wolff, Lungs

David Mark Cohen New Play Award
Dust, Nicole Oglesby
A Girl Named Sue, Christine Hoang
The Hotel Vanya, or A Metaphysical-Paradigm at the End of Everythingness, Timothy Braun
A Perfect Robot, Sarah Saltwick
The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Allen Robertson & Damon Brown
Underground, Lisa Thompson
With Great Difficulty Alice Sits, Hannah Kenah
Wraith Radio, Chris Fontanes

Ensemble
Atlantis, A Puppet Opera, Ethos, with the Vortex
Clybourne Park, Penfold Theatre
The Drowning Girls, Theatre en Bloc
The Great Society, Zach Theatre
Neva, Theatre en Bloc
Nevermore, the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Doctuh Mistuh Productions
Old Times, Austin Shakespeare
The World According to Snoopy, Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance

Acting
Liz Beckham, Lungs/Neva/Clybourne Park
Chase Brewer, Hand to God
Jay Byrd, Hir
Barbara Chisholm, The Totalitarians
Jacqui Cross, For the Love of Mahalia
Sarah Danko, A Perfect Robot
Lana Dieterich, John
Bridget Farr, Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Judd Farris, Trevor
Joey Hood, W.
Michael Joplin, Lungs
J. Robert Moore, Buyer & Cellar
Marc Pouhé, Death of a Salesman/Underground
Amber Quick, One Man, Two Guv’nors/Charlotte’s Web/The Herd
Cecil Washington, Jr., The Great Society
DESIGN
Set
Theada Bellenger, The Addams Family
Chris Conard, The Totalitarians/The Drowning Girls
Ia Ensterä, Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Lisa Laratta, Poor Herman
Mark Pickell, Hir/Hand to God/John
Desiderio Roybal, Clybourne Park/The Price/The Herd
Court Watson, One Man, Two Guv’nors

Costume
Susan Branche Towne, One Man, Two Guv’nors/The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Jennifer Davis, Wolf Hall/Pride and Prejudice
E. L. Hohn, In the Red and Brown Water
Barry Doss, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Lighting
Jason Amato, Atlantis: A Puppet Opera
Patrick Anthony, A Perfect Robot/Old Times
Don Day, John
Kate Ducey, The Drowning Girls
Kathryn Eader, The Manchurian Candidate
Natalie George, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui/11:11/Potential
Natalie George & Sadie Langenkamp, Riverside
Stephen Pruitt, More or Less/One Step at a Time/”panning_memory”
Alex Soto, Radiance
Scott Vandenberg, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees

Sound
Lowell Bartholomee, Clybourne Park/Fahrenheit 451
David DeMaris, A Perfect Robot
Robert Fisher, The Hotel Vanya
William Meadows, Radiance
Bill Mester, The Manchurian Candidate

Digital
Ana Baer, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Lowell Bartholomee, Fahrenheit 451
Greg Emetaz, The Manchurian Candidate
Eliot Gray Fisher, A Perfect Robot
DANCE
Concert
4×3, Performa/Dance
2016 Fall Dance Festival, Chaddick Dance Theater
Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees, Sharon Marroquin, produced by Latino Art
Residency Project, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
More or Less, Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Co.
One Step at a Time: A Journey Toward Present Grace, Tapestry Dance
Radiance, Blue Lapis Light

Short Work
“Black is the New Black,” Oluwaseun Samuel Olayiwola
“Camille: A Story of Art and Love,” Jennifer Hart
“Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter,” Lisa Nicks
“panning_memory,” Jennifer Sherburn
“Planets,” Michelle Thompson Ulerich
“Slowness,” Jun Shen
“Tikling(bird),” Alexa Capareda

Choreographer
Acia Gray, “Jazz Voices”/“Hourglass”/“Time”/“Listen”
Kathy Dunn Hamrick, More or Less/The Four (Three) Seasons/“Salud”
Sally Jacques, Radiance
Jennifer Hart, Camille: A Story of Art and Love
Sharon Marroquin, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Lisa Nicks, “Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter”
Kate Warren, Change Without Change

Dancer
Jeremy Arnold, Listen – With Ears Wide Open
Ellen Bartel, “Ocean”/Potential
Alexa Capareda, “Tikling(bird)”/Loose Gravel
Alyson Dolan, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees/The Four (3) Seasons/The Bowie Project/Potential
Lisa Anne Kobdish, More or Less/Potential/“Salud”
Sharon Marroquin, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Amy Morrow, Hiraeth/“We’ve Been Here Before”/Save Our Spaces Second Line March
Oren Porterfield, Camille: A Story of Art and Love/To China with Love
Andrea Torres, Listen – With Ears Wide Open

Ensemble
Ballet Austin, To China with Love/Belle Redux
Cast of Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Dance Repertory Theatre, Momentum
Frank Wo/Men Collective, Loose Gravel
Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company,  More or Less
CLASSICAL MUSIC
Concert/Opera
Autumn Song, Conspirare
The Flying Dutchman, Austin Opera
Mahler: Symphony No. 6, Austin Symphony Orchestra
The Manchurian Candidate, Austin Opera
Rule of Three, Austin Symphony Orchestra
Symphonic Follies, Austin Symphony Orchestra

Chamber Performance
Drumming, line upon line percussion, for Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company’s More or Less
I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes, Living Paper Song Project
Sacred Shadows, Ensemble VIII
Schumann Chamber Players, Austin Chamber Music Festival

Original Composition/Score
Have a Good Day, Kathryn Mishell
Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance, Graham Reynolds & Lagaritas Tiradas al Sol
The Passive-Aggressive’s Guide to Mother Goose, Ross Crean
Problems, Rain Nox
String Quartet No. 4, Yevgeniy Sharlat
Potential, line upon line percussion

Singer
Donnie Ray Albert, The Manchurian Candidate/I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes
Liz Cass, Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance
Julia di Fiore, The Passive-Aggressive’s Guide to Mother Goose
Brenda Harris, The Manchurian Candidate
David Adam Moore, The Manchurian Candidate
Stefanie Moore, Autumn Song
Tim O’Brien, LOLA@4th Tap: January
Kathlene Ritch, Autumn Song
Paul Sanchez, Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance/A Christmas Carol

Ensemble
Conspirare
Ensemble VIII
line upon line percussion
Schumann Chamber Players
VISUAL ART
Solo Gallery Exhibition
“Ana Esteve Lloren: Studies for Future Objects,” Women & Their Work Gallery
“Lauren Moya Ford: New Hands on Old World Flowers,” Big Medium
“Liz Rodda: Heat Loss,” Women & Their Work Gallery
“Low Down: New Works On Paper by Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz,” Not Gallery
“Scorch and Drag: Prints and Sculptures by John Robert Craft,” Flatbed Gallery
“Tammie Rubin: Before I Knew You, I Missed You,” de stijl | PODIUM FOR ART
“Tania Mouraud: Everyday Ogres,” UT Visual Arts Center

Group Gallery Exhibition
“ANTHROPOCENE: Jonas Hart, Dameon Lester & Melissa Loop,” grayDUCK Gallery
“Femme National(e): Audrey Brown, Christina Coleman, Kasumi Chow / Desiree Michelle Espada, Emmy Laursen, Juliana Isabel Ramirez,” Pump Project
“Figure/Heads: David Bae and Erin Cunningham,” ICOSA Collective Gallery
“The First Horizons of Juno: Christina Coleman, Jane Hugentober, Candice Lin, Karen Lofgren, Christine Rebet, Alice Wang and Chantal Wnuk,” MASS Gallery
“March ON!” Christian-Greene Gallery at the Warfield Center
“One/Sixth,” de stijl | PODIUM FOR ART
“Textscape,” Co-Lab Projects DEMO Gallery,

Independent Project
“FinalCon,” Museum of Human Achievement, Ink Tank, Dys/Mem, Drew Paryzer, and Gwar
Spam’s, The Internet Diner, Museum of Human Achievement, Rachel Stuckey, curator
This is Hardcore, Sean Ripple
Workout With Erica Nix, Erica Nix
XYZ Atlas, Jennifer Chenoweth

Gallery, Body of Work
Co-Lab Projects DEMO Gallery
Flatbed Complex
Museum of Human Achievement
Not Gallery
Pump Project

Artist
Cliona Gunter
Amy Hauft
Beili Liu
Sean Ripple
Deborah Roberts

UPDATE: Four people will be inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame: Zell Miller III (theater, spoken word); Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith of Flatbed Press (visual arts); and Kate Warren (dance).

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.

Austin names Rehab El Sadek artist in residence

A native of Egypt now based in Austin will spend nine months embedded within the city’s Watershed Protection Department.

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Artist Rehab Al Sadek, the city of Austin’s new artist-in-residence. Contributed

A painter, photographer, printmaker and all-around creative sparkplug, Rehab El Sadek is also a social connector who has initiated workshops around women’s rights and children with disabilities among other causes. She has created art in Africa and Pakistan and has been exhibited in multiple European cities.

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‘HomeNightTopography’ by Rehab El Sadek. Contributed

She will not be required to make art, but rather to help city staff “resolve problems, provide innovative or new improvements, and help engage residents around community issues in creative ways,” according to a statement.

The University of Texas College of Fine Arts has put together a somewhat similar program with the Design Institute for Health at the Dell Medical School.

RELATED: After 135 years, a medical school is about to open its doors at UT.

Also, artists have already been embedded successfully with city workers, as witnessed recently at the Lift a Fork benefit for Forklift Danceworks at Springdale Station. Allison Orr and her company have famously created unique dance projects for sanitation workers, firefighters, electrical linemen and technicians and urban foresters.

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Lift a Fort for Forklife Danceworks. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Along the way, Danceworks has attracted international attention to Austin. They recently returned from Europe where they collaborated with sanitation workers and revisited gondoliers. The testimonials flowed as easily as the craft cocktails at the magical evening event and a half dozen of the diners engaged me in strikingly memorable conversations.

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Leslie Briggs and Kassandra Hendrix at Lift a Fork for Forklift Danceworks. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

RELATED: “Dance explores art of everyday movement.”

Coming up from Danceworks: “My Park, My Pool, My City.” The Parks and Recreation Department actually approached Danceworks to help find out more about what could be done with three East Austin pools.

Watch new Austin Symphony and Ballet Austin videos

Austin arts groups are getting better at promoting their fare through videos. We not only approve, we hope to spread the good news.

Ballet Austin’s “The Magic Flute” plays the Long Center March 31-April 2.

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Ballet Austin’s “The Magic Flute.” Contributed by Tony Spielberg

Here’s Austin Symphony’s video on Mahler’s Sixth Symphony.

Peter Bay and the orchestra play the long, tragic Sixth March 24-26. Watch this space for an interview we conducted with the maestro.

The Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. Photograph by Moriz Nähr. 1907.

Which show won the most nominations at the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards?

We haven’t counted how many nods each Austin area high school musical won. But thanks to alert theater teacher Joshua Denning, who posted quickly on Facebook, we do know that McCallum Fine Arts Academy‘s “Me and My Girl” nabbed nine nominations. The awards show — which is dynamite — is April 13 at the Long Center.

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Best Production
Leander “Pippin”
Anderson “Curtains”
Cedar Ridge “Cats”
McNeil “Barnum”
Hendrickson “In the Heights”
James Bowie “The Who’s Tommy”
Rouse “In the Heights”
McCallum Fine Arts Academy “Me and My Girl”

Best Featured Performer
Quinn Skarnulis. Anderson High School
Indigo Raetz Austin High School
Sarah Cadena Bastrop High School
Kristyn Chambers Brentwood Christian
Dainique Jones Cedar Ridge High
Logan Dundon Dripping Springs High School
Campbell Duffy Georgetown High
Clara Cable Lake Travis High
Kye Brown Lehman High School
Ellie Kuykendall Dripping Springs High
Kali Thompson Marble Falls High
Niko Bermea Rouse High School
Halle Hill Vandegrift High School

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Best Scenic Design
Cedar Ridge High School “ Cats”
Anderson High School “Curtains”
Rouse High School “ In the Heights”
Jack C. Hays High School “Into the Woods”
Elgin High School “Little Shop of Horrors”
Dripping Springs High School “My Fair Lady”
Katherine Anne Porter School “Pippin”
David Crockett High School “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

Best Choreography
Cedar Ridge High School “Cats”
Dripping Springs High School “My Fair Lady”
Hendrickson High School “In the Heights”
James Bowie High School “The Who’s Tommy”
McCallum Fine Arts Academy “Me and My Girl”
McNeil High School “Barnum”
Rouse High School “In the Heights”
Vista Ridge High School “Thoroughly Modern Millie”

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Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Abigail Holtfort Cedar Park High
Brooke Silverstein St. Stephens
Gracee Street Lake Travis High
Kat Cruz Anderson High
Kiara Thomas Cedar Creek High
Lydia Emery Jack C. Hays High
Sophia Mullican McCallum Fine Arts Academy
Sydney Enos Georgetown High
Taylor Cooper Jack C. Hays High

Best Lighting Design
Lake Travis High School “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”
Hendrickson High School “In the Heights”
Rouse High School “In the Heights”
Jack C. Hays High School “Into the Woods”
Lehman High School “Our House”
Leander High School “Pippin”
St. Stephen’s Episcopal “Pippin”
James Bowie “The Who’s Tommy”

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Best Musical Direction
Marble Falls High School “Cinderella” (Broadway Version)
McNeil High School “Barnum”
Rouse High “In the Heights”
Vista Ridge High School “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
Anderson High School “Curtains”
Cedar Park High School “Cabaret”
James Bowie High School “The Who’s Tommy”
Lake Travis High School “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Trey Moffett East View High School
Bryce Keesee-Lourigan Georgetown High
Brian Baker Hendrickson High
Clayt Aziz Jack C. Hays High
Max Corney McCallum Fine Arts
H. Crocker McCallum Fine Arts
Andrew De La Garza Rouse High School
Logan Caraway Vista Ridge High

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Best Technical Execution
David Crockett High School “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
Anderson “Curtains”
LBJ/LASA “Nice Work if You Can Get It”
Del Valle “ Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”
McCallum Fine Arts Academy “Me and My Girl”
Marble Falls “Cinderella”
Rouse “In the Heights”
Round Rock “The Goodbye Girl”

Best Orchestra
Vista Ridge High School “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
Akins High School “Rock of Ages”
Leander High School “Pippin”
Lehman High School “Our House”
LBJ/LASA High School “Nice Work if You Can Get It”
Georgetown High School “Into the Woods”
Hendrickson High School “In the Heights”
East View High School “Big Fish”

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Best Actor in a Leading Role
Michael Morran Anderson High School
Bruno Maples David Crockett High
Chris Ayala Hendrickson High
Matthew Kennedy Leander High School
AJ Lawrence Lehman High School
Tristan Tierney McCallum Fine Arts
Keaton Brandt McNeil High School
Elliot Esquivel Rouse High School
Sam Oberle St. Stephen’s Episcopal

Best Costume Design
Westwood “Once Upon a Mattress”
Vista Ridge “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
McNeil “Barnum”
Marble Falls “Cinderella”
Georgetown “Into the Woods”
Dripping Springs “My Fair Lady”
Cedar Ridge “Cats”
Anderson “Curtains”

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Best Direction
Anderson “Curtains”
Cedar Creek “You’re A Good Man, “Charlie Brown”
Cedar Ridge “Cats”
Hendrickson “In the Heights”
James “The Who’s Tommy”
McCallum Fine Arts Academy “Me and My Girl”
McNeil “Barnum”
Rouse “In the Heights”

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Sophie Niles McNeil
Maddie Reese Lake Travis
Erin Swearingen Jack C. Hays
Anna McGuire McCallum Fine Arts
Jessica Askey Lake Travis
Trinity Adams Dripping Springs
Isabelle Dickey LBJ/LASA
Olivia Vines Anderson
Chloe Byars James Bowie

Best Ensemble
Cedar Ridge “Cats”
Dripping Springs “My Fair Lady”
Hendrickson . “In the Heights”
James Bowie “The Who’s Tommy”
Leander “Pippin”
Rouse “In the Heights”
St. Stephen’s Episcopal “Pippin”
Vandegrift “Oliver!”

Texas Medal of Arts honorees testify

You’ve read the statistics.

The arts have grown into a $5.5 billion industry in Texas, according to a 2017 State of the Arts Report released recently by the Texas Cultural Trust, an advocacy group. The industry generates, too, nearly $343.7 million in state sales tax revenue annually.

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Additionally, you know by now how the arts affect education, tourism and the economy, especially in this town, where all varieties of creative efforts thrive from the grassroots up.

Those kinds of arguments make reasonably persuasive cases when lobbying the Texas Legislature for support. Yet much more can be said directly — from one Texan to another — about the value of the arts.

Before the Texas Medal of Arts awards — given to Texans by the Texas Cultural Trust — arrive with parties and grand ceremonies Tuesday and Wednesday, we asked the honorees what the arts have meant to them personally.

We’re updating the Austin Arts blog with recent and relevant material from other Statesman and Austin360 pages. See the rest of this story on Texas Medal of Arts here.

Big Data makes the Austin dance scene

Turns out that the same charitable foundation that backed Austin Opera‘s general manager Annie Burridge when she supervised a segmented audience study earlier at Opera Philadelphia is underwriting a similar look at Ballet Austin.

RELATED: Austin Opera leader turns to Big Data to engage audiences.

The Wallace Foundation’s $52 million “Building Audiences for Sustainability” initiative intends to expand and deepen each arts group’s audience engagement by asking layered questions about why people are motivated to attend.

On Thursday, the foundation released an article and a video that upend long-held assumptions about how audiences behave. Ballet Austin is two years into the rigorous study, which so far shows that the assumed evolutionary continuum of audience tastes from story ballets to more abstract works is not supported by the data, but rather that people need more information on ballet altogether to feel more assured that they will fell comfortable with the experience.

They also found that people respond to videos that they discover digitally and that they also want to make social, intellectual and emotional connections. (Hey, that’s what we do, too!)

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Here’s a snippet from the fascinating article:

“Every December, Ballet Austin puts on “The Nutcracker,” choreographed by the company’s artistic director, Stephen Mills. Virtually all of the 14 performances at the 2,442-seat Long Center for the Performing Arts are filled to capacity. “We could sell out more shows,” says Cookie Ruiz, executive director of the Texas company, “but it would wear our dancers out.”

“Packed houses are the case for other classics, too. But a different picture emerges for more abstract works, which don’t attract the crowds that flock to “Swan Lake,” “Sleeping Beauty” and the like. That reality is frustrating for the dance company – and not just because unsold tickets mean unrealized revenue.

It also runs counter to Ballet Austin’s mission: to create new work and develop talent, thereby extending the ballet repertoire and advancing the art form. Ruiz sums up the problem with a simple question:

“How do we go about developing larger audiences for entirely new work?”