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Moody Fund for the Arts awards $450,000 to small Dallas arts organizations

A group of musicians and actors perform while surrounded on three sides audience members.
Dickie Hill
Verdigris Ensemble, shown here performing "Dust Bowl," is one of 52 small arts groups in Dallas to receive a grant from Moody Fund for the Arts.

52 groups, all with budgets of less than $1 million, received grants of as much as $12,000.

Now in its fifth year, the Moody Fund for the Arts is awarding $450,000 to 52 small arts organizations in Dallas, a record dollar figure for the grant-making arm of the Galveston-based Moody Foundation.

The arts organizations, ranging from a cultural heritage foundation to a dance council to the small publishing house Deep Vellum, received grants of up to $12,000. Six of the groups — Arts Mission Oak Cliff, Asian Film Foundation of Dallas, Indique Dance Company, kNOwBOX Dance, No Limits Arts Theatre and Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company — were first-time grant recipients.

“We set out to create a unique endowment that would support the growing, diverse and vibrant small arts community in Dallas,” said Frances Moody-Dahlberg, the executive director and chairman of the Moody Foundation, in a press release. “We wanted to help these organizations realize their creative vision with projects and programs across our city. After five years, we are beyond pleased by the results, and excited at what’s ahead.”

Last year, amid the throes of the pandemic and its outsize effect on the arts, the Moody Foundation awarded $400,000 to 54 organizations. Grant amounts more than doubled from 2019 ($175,000) to 2020 ($355,000) in response to the pandemic, and the fund (which is run by the AT&T Performing Arts Center) implemented an expedited review process.

“The arts are essential to Dallas,” said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson in the press release. “And during an extraordinarily challenging time, the Moody Fund for the Arts provided a lifeline to many of our small arts organizations that fuel our city’s culture of creativity.”

All organizations go through a two-stage review process in order to qualify for grants. This year, the advisory review panel, which conducts the first level, included Wolford McCue, the former president and executive director of The Arts Community Alliance, known as TACA; Katie McGuinness of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Artie Olaisen of Dallas Children’s Theater; Nycole Ray of Dallas Black Dance Theatre; and Priscilla Rice of the city’s Arts and Culture Advisory Commission.

The second stage of review was conducted by the Moody Fund’s executive committee, made up of Benjamin Espino, the interim director of the Office of Arts and Culture; philanthropist Gwen Echols; and philanthropist Tracey Nash-Huntley.

The Moody Foundation created the Moody Fund for the Arts in 2017, endowing it with $10 million to grant annually to nonprofit arts organizations that are supported by the city’s Office of Arts and Culture and have budgets of less than $1 million. In exchange for this — and for the Moody Foundation putting up $12 million toward paying down the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s capital debt — the city renamed the Dallas City Performance Hall in the Arts District to the Moody Performance Hall.

To date, the fund has awarded $1,530,000 to 79 organizations.

Dana Gerber is a staff writer at The Dallas Morning News.

This story is part of an arts journalism collaboration between The Dallas Morning News and KERA. A version also appears at