News and Features

Sammons Center Announces 2014 Award Winners

The Sammons Center for the Arts, announced the winners of its annual awards, which recognize individuals or groups who’ve made outstanding contributions to the 14 performing arts groups the Center houses, the additional 50 organizations that Sammons serves, and to Sammons Jazz and Sammons Cabaret, the series the Center presents.

Congratulations to the winners!

  • Sammons Center Hall of F
    gayle halperin

    Gayle Halperin

    ame: TACA (The Arts Community Alliance), has awarded more than $1.4 million to 46 diverse performing arts groups, including the Sammons Center, this year. The non-profit TACA was organized in 1966 to support dance, music, theater, opera, musical theater and choral programs through financial support, collaboration and shared resources.

  • Benefactor of the Year 2014: Jim and Gayle Halperin/The James and Gayle Halperin Foundation. The award recognizes their generous support of the Sammons Center’s Capital Campaign. The foundation makes charitable contributions to the arts, education, health and international relief.
  • Sammons Jazz Benefactor of the Year 2014: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.  The Sammons Center honors Akin Gump for its long-time support of the Sammons Jazz series which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
  • Sammons Jazz Artist of the Year 2014: Julie Bonk. Bonk is a respected jazz musician, composer and piano teacher who has performed with notables such as Bob Hope, The Supremes, and The Drifters as well as on the Sammons Jazz stage beginning in the early 1990s. One of her better-known piano students is Norah Jones.
  • julie bonk

    Julie Bonk

    Sammons Cabaret Benefactor of the Year 2014: Ruth Eleanor Roylance. The award recognizes her significant contribution to the growth of the Sammons Center’s newest concert series, Sammons Cabaret.

  • Sammons Cabaret Artists of the Year 2014: Linda and Larry Petty. The couple, withLinda on vocals and Larry on piano, are highly sought-after entertainers who have received multiple Grammy nominations and performed around the world.
  • Dianne Kennedy is the recipient of Outstanding Volunteer of the Year 2014: Dianne Kennedy. The award recognizes her many years of enthusiastic and dedicated service as a volunteer at the Sammons Jazz and Sammons Cabaret concerts.



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Young Poet Takes Aim At Substandard Teaching

Nytesia Ross, a 19-year-old from Tyler, Texas, recently performed her original poem called “Teach Me” at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.


Nytesia Ross

She was one of five winners of a nationwide poetry competition about the challenges that students face as they try to graduate from high school, and her poem was addressed to high school teachers.

Ross performed “Teach Me” with the urgency and anger of someone craving an education but feeling unsafe in dilapidated classrooms, reading out of shabby, outdated textbooks.

The problem of teenagers giving up and dropping out was very real for Ross when she was a student at Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, Texas.

Some of her friends got pregnant, some had trouble with the law, some didn’t see much value in what they did at school, and got sick of spending all day sitting in chairs, being lectured at.

“You all made plans, this is what we’re going to do together. And to see someone take a different route…it’s kinda heartbreaking,” she said in an interview after her performance.

Ross admits feeling bored and frustrated in some of her classes. She often felt like her teachers didn’t believe she and her economically disadvantaged friends would amount to much, and gave them less than kids from richer neighborhoods.

“Your teacher is supposed to be teaching you the truth,” she said. “That’s one of the main problems I had – biased opinions would overwhelm the classroom.”

She learned to speak her mind through poetry in grade school, when she wrote a poem called “I Am A Child Without A Dad.” Slam poetry isn’t for everyone, but Nytesia was a natural. Her mom encouraged her to keep writing.

“When anyone tells you your poetry is good, you want to keep doing it,” she said. Ross is now a sophomore at Stephen F. Austin State University, majoring in Radio and Television with hopes of making a living as a poet and speaker.

Officially, about 90% of high school students in Texas graduate now, although there’s wide variety by race, family income, disability, and English proficiency.

The RAISE Up poetry slam competition was designed to remind people at the Kennedy Center and across the country that while dropout rate has mostly fallen off the public’s radar, there are still hundreds of thousands of kids struggling to get a diploma.



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First Bite In 60 Years: Lyric Stage Revives Original “The Golden Apple”

Mayor Hector and soldiers

James Williams as Mayor Hector addresses his soldiers in “The Golden Apple.” Photo: Steven Jones.

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Tomato Republic: Let The Takeover Begin

This week on Frame of Mind, watch a funny and down to earth documentary about a small town’s mayoral elections.

  • Tune in to KERA TV on Thursday at 10 PM to catch this week’s episode!

tomato republic

I spoke with the director of Tomato Republic, Jenna Jackson.

On the idea behind Tomato Republic:

It came out of the blue.  I am from Jacksonville – graduated high school there 20+ years ago.  I hadn’t been back a lot, but since my family doesn’t live there anymore, I only go back ever once in a while.  I have a good friend who moved back several years ago and she called me one day and said that I needed to bring my film crew down because we needed to do a documentary about this mayor’s race.  I laughed it off and told her that I had just started my company and were super busy.  She told me that I would regret it if I didn’t, but I sort of blew her off for about a week.  So a week later, she called me and told me that there were three candidates.  As soon as she told me who the three candidates were and their backgrounds, I said that we were on our way.  We took a team down there for a weekend, just to see how it played out and we were all hooked.  So that was it – we had to do it!

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Dallas Institute of Humanities Expands Into Old Uptown Home

stroud houseeditstroud.interiorThe Stroud House, and the interior of the house in the back. Photo: Jerome Weeks.

At last, some good news about a venerable Dallas building not being torn down.

The Stroud House at 2723 Routh Street is one of the oldest homes in Dallas — built in 1868. It’s still standing, amid the explosive development of Uptown or, as I persist in calling it, the State-Thomas area. That’s one of the reasons the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, headquartered next door, decided to buy the house. To keep it from possibly being leveled for a batch of condos or transformed into what Dallas truly needs, another trendy restaurant-bar.

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VIDEO: An Unusual Collaboration Between Artist And Curator At The Amon Carter Museum

  • Benito Huerta and Maggie Adler discuss their collaboration at the Amon Carter tonight at 6. Details.
  • Fresh Perspectives: Benito Huerta and the Collection is on view until Jan. 11.

What if an artist got to choose the works hung on the walls in museums?  At the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, assistant curator Maggie Adler teamed up with artist Benito Huerta for an unusual exhibition. Huerta sifted through the Amon Carter’s collection to choose pieces that spoke to him. Meantime Adler visited Huerta in his studio and home to select works from throughout his career.  Their picks make up the show,  called Fresh Perspectives: Benito Huerta and the Collection.

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The Big Screen: Lone Star Film Fest Preview

BigScreen_logoSMALLThe Lone Star Film Festival opens in Fort Worth next week. And among the 30 movies playing are a couple with serious Oscar buzz. This week, we talk to festival director Alec Jhangiani for a preview.

The Lone Star Film Festival runs Nov. 5-9.

Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes. Stream this week’s episode below or download it.


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A War Vet’s Story Rarely Told On Stage, But All Too Common


A scene from “Speed Killed My Cousin.” Photo: James Geiger.

The South Dallas Cultural Center is presenting Speed Killed My Cousin this weekend. In the play, Debra is a young African American soldier returning from Iraq. As she drives the Long Island Expressway with her father David, a Vietnam veteran, Debra struggles with whether to live or die. The piece was written by Linda Parris-Bailey, executive director of The Carpetbag Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee. And it tackles a host of issues, including post traumatic stress,  its impact on families, the family’s role in healing and military sexual assault.

  • Speed Killed My Cousin starts Thursday at South Dallas Cultural Center and runs through Nov. 1. Veterans get free admission and their families, half-price.
  • Listen to the interview with Parris-Bailey that aired on KERA FM:

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The Big Deal: Casa Manaña Presents ‘A Tuna Christmas’

BD tuna post

It’s already Christmas time in Tuna – the third smallest town in Texas!  Luckily you can catch all the mayhem going on in Tuna right in Fort Worth, at the venerable Casa Manaña. Win a pair of tickets to see how the good but eccentric people of Tuna handle their disaster plagued Christmas production and a contest saboteur in A Tuna Christmas. Tickets will be good for the opening night performance, Nov. 8, 8 p.m.

Don’t forget to browse our other offerings for this week’s Big Deals. Sign up for a chance to see Joshua Bell at the AT&T Performing Arts Center or tickets to ‘Appalachian Spring’ presented by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra with guest violinist Simone Porter at Bass Performance Hall.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal.  If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to see A Tuna Christmas at Casa Manaña.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!

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The Big Deal: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras Presents ‘Appalachian Spring’

Photo: Jeff Fasano Photography

Photo: Jeff Fasano Photography

For their upcoming presentation Appalachian Spring, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra has invited American violin prodigy Simone Porter to perform. In the first half of the program Ms. Porter, deftly accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, will perform Samuel Barber’s soulful Violin Concerto followed by Aaron Copland’s sweeping ballet suite Appalachian Spring. In the second half of the program the spotlight will shine on Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and his exuberant 9th Symphony. One lucky Big Deal winner will receive a pair of tickets to attend the Nov. 14 performance at Bass Performance Hall.

While you are signing up for this Big Deal go ahead and sign up for our other Big Deals this week – tickets to see Joshua Bell at the AT&T Performing Arts Center or tickets to see A Tuna Christmas at Casa Manaña.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to win tickets to see American Ballads presented by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!

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