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Four Dallas arts groups receive $450,000 in National Endowment for the Arts rescue grants

Dancers perform on stage.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Dallas Black Dance Theatre performed Tommie-Waheed Evans' "Bodies of Faith and Protest" in Klyde Warren Park in Dallas.

The funding, part of the American Rescue Plan, is designed to help arts and culture groups recover from the pandemic.

Four Dallas performing arts groups have received a total of $450,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In Dallas, the Bishop Arts Theatre Center and the Dallas Symphony both garnered $150,000, while Dallas Black Dance Theatre received $100,000 andCara Mia Theatre got $50,000.

The money is from the third installment of the $1.3 trillion American Rescue Plan. The stimulus bill was designed by the Biden administration to provide emergency relief from the pandemic for small businesses. The money is to be used for specific projects or purposes, such as unemployment insurance, but especially to preserve or provide jobs.

Nationwide, 567 arts groups received nearly $58 million.

Zenetta Drew is executive director of Dallas Black Dance. She said the grant was vital for the company to continue through the pandemic.

"Specifically, our grant was to help support 10 dancers in our second professional company over the next two years," Drew said.

The 10 dancers in Dallas Black Dance's Encore Company work five days a week, six hours a day, but they're not salaried. The grant will help pay them a stipend so they can continue working in educational programs and performances.

In Texas, a total of $2.55 million went to 25 arts groups, including such outfits as the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Alley Theatre, the Austin Film Society and Glasstire, the journalism website covering Texas visual art.

But it's long been a pattern in federal arts money flowing to Texas that all of North Texas lags behind other areas in the state, usually Houston but often Austin as well. With these latest grants, Houston groups dominated with 12 receiving grant money. No other Texas city came close. (There were four each for Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, none for Fort Worth or other North Texas communities.)

In 2017, for example, 15 arts groups across North Texas received NEA grants. In Houston alone (not including its suburbs), there were 31, more than twice North Texas' total. In Austin, there were 26.

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Got a tip? Email Jerome Weeks at You can follow him on Twitter @dazeandweex.

Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.