The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Rothko Chapel's 2017-18 'Concerts in the Chapel'

Grant Information
Categories Peace , Arts , Education , Community
Location South Texas
Cycle Year 2017
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Rothko Chapel
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Kim Ballesteros
Phone 713-524-9839
1409 Sul Ross St.
Additional Information
Used for We are requesting a $7,500 grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to help fund Rothko Chapel’s 2017-18 season of ‘Concerts in the Chapel.’ Music often gives voice to those in need and hope to those in crisis and may be used as a tool to expose social injustices while spurring community activism and furthering cross-cultural relations. These concerts are central to the Chapel’s commitment to art and activism as an important means of promoting peace and justice, encouraging conversation, reflection and action for change.
Benefits Filling the sacred space of the Chapel with soul-stirring and provocative music, spoken word and movement brings awareness to important issues of the day – such as the struggles of the incarcerated, living with a disability, and the real need for peace and reconciliation – while also educating participants about other cultures and traditions. With this season of ‘Concerts in the Chapel,’ Rothko Chapel uses music, poetry and theatre to bring together the city’s diverse ethnic, faith and cultural communities, reaching new audiences with performers and participants sharing stories and experiences while encouraging acceptance, fostering mutual understanding and inspiring all of us to move from being observers and listeners to agents of change.
Proposal Description Last year, over 103,000 people from 112 countries visited the Rothko Chapel and its grounds with 10,600 participants enjoying group tours and attending our schedule of unique programming focused on the connections between art, spirituality and human rights. Rothko Chapel’s 2017-18 season began in September as the city recovered from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. The Chapel itself reopened a few days after Harvey hit and provided all those impacted by the storm with a supportive place for healing and fellowship. Our annual ‘International Day of Peace Observation’ on September 21 was transformed into a Hurricane Harvey Relief Concert and featured the Apollo Chamber Players performing music of peace and reconciliation. Proceeds from the evening were donated to Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston in support of their efforts to help homebound seniors and refugee families suffering in the wake of Harvey. Apollo Chamber Players, a Houston-based non-profit chamber music organization that explores the cultural and folkloric influences in classical music, performed a program of music for string quartet by Grammy-winning American composers Libby Larsen and Philip Glass, Millennial composer Alexandra du Bois, and Syrian-American composer Malek Jandali.

On October 12, as part of Rothko Chapel’s Óscar Romero Award programming, the ‘Concerts in the Chapel’ series presented ‘Art and Incarceration: Poetry, Theatre and Music in and about Captivity’ by Ensemble Pi, a socially conscious new music collective founded in 2002 in New York City featuring composers whose work seeks to make space for a dialogue between ideas and music on some of the world’s current, critical issues. With this performance, the Chapel furthered its efforts in bringing awareness to the critical need for criminal justice reform in the United States, opening the eyes, minds and hearts of audience members to the struggles of people who are incarcerated. This program continued the dialogue on mass incarceration that began with the 2017 Spring Symposium, ‘An Act of Faith: Undoing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration,’ which brought together people from diverse political, racial, cultural, economic and religious backgrounds to strengthen our collective efforts to reform the criminal justice system, connecting people to restorative justice efforts including alternatives to incarceration, which lead to substantive changes in the current system and the reduction of recidivism rates. ‘Art and Incarceration: Poetry, Theatre and Music in and about Captivity’ contributed to our call to action, using art to educate, move and inspire those who attended in person or viewed the program online.

Four very different and equally inspirational concerts are scheduled for the spring of 2018. On February 20, Houston’s The Transitory Sound and Movement Collective will perform a new site-specific work for the Chapel titled ‘Breath,’ a sound-based, experiential work led and created by founder/artistic director Lynn Lane with an ensemble of live musicians, two dancers and the accompaniment of an individual who is on a ventilator and confined to a wheelchair. This piece confronts the idea of how we perceive our comfort level in silence and how we understand people living with disabilities, while exploring the dynamics and subtleties of what life is at its essence.

On March 24, Trinity Jazz Ensemble will honor the legacy of Archbishop Óscar Romero with ‘Music and Spoken Word: The Sounds of El Salvador.’ Archbishop Romero was murdered on March 24, 1980 because of his opposition to violence and his courageous defense of the poor and disenfranchised in his country of El Salvador. Trinity Jazz Ensemble, along with community leaders from the Houston area, will weave together jazz renditions of popular Salvadoran folk songs with readings of Romero’s words and homilies, marking the anniversary of his martyrdom.

On April 10, the Chapel celebrates the arrival of spring and the culture of Japan with ‘In a Moss Garden: The Sounds of Japan.’ Performed by three musicians playing traditional Japanese instruments, the program reflects on Zen Buddhism, Haiku and Tanka poetry, and Hanami, the long-practiced tradition of gathering under the blooming cherry trees to rejoice in and ponder their evanescent beauty. Finally, on May 20, Rothko Chapel will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Menil Collection with a performance of ‘Mass for Pentecost Sunday.’ Written by Louisiana musician Richard “Dickie” Landry, this Latin high mass influenced by 16th century music was commissioned by Dominique de Menil and originally premiered at the Chapel in June 1987 for the opening of the Menil Collection museum.

For each concert, the Chapel reaches out to those in our community and in our large database of past participants and visitors who are interested in the arts, world cultures, social justice, and human rights. We will also promote the performances via our local newspapers and radio stations. Rothko Chapel’s interactive website (which currently receives an average of 24,000 hits per day), email newsletters and thoughtful use of emerging social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) will assist us in engaging a wider audience for these important and thought-provoking ‘Concerts in the Chapel.’

Our modest endowment funds just about half of our annual budget, so the Chapel relies on contributions from individuals and foundations to provide full funding for our vibrant and important programs. The total budget for our series of ‘Concerts in the Chapel’ is $18,000, and a generous $7,500 grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will help us continue to offer the concerts for free or at a low cost, allowing us to expand our service and outreach to the community, inspiring thousands of people to action in the hope of creating a more just, tolerant and compassionate world.

In the end, Rothko Chapel hopes these concerts will invite and encourage courageous conversations among people from different religious, ethnic and economic backgrounds, bringing a newfound awareness to the important issues of the day.