The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Proposal to Support Rothko Chapel's 50th Anniversary Programming

Grant Information
Categories Education , Environment , Peace , Arts , Community
Location Texas
Cycle Year 2020
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Rothko Chapel
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Thuy Tran
Phone 713-660-1405
1409 Sul Ross
Additional Information
Used for Rothko Chapel respectfully requests a $10,000 grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation in support of the Chapel’s 50th Anniversary programming. This celebratory season presents performances and thoughtful programs throughout the year and beyond, including the return of one of the most beloved community events in the Chapel’s history and a co-commissioned work written for the Chapel, premiering on the 50th anniversary of Morton Feldman’s seminal work, “Rothko Chapel”, in early 2022. Our year-long celebration culminates in Rothko Chapel’s 2021 Symposium in late spring, where we explore the current state of human rights in the United States and how individuals, grassroots initiatives, and policy makers can work together to create a more equitable future for all.
Benefits After over a year of being closed to the public for restoration, this space – unique to Houston but created for the world – has truly been transformed. Support from the Dougherty Foundation will allow us to honor this transformation with a celebration of and reflection on the Chapel’s 50 years as a world-renowned site for transformative and inspirational experiences through the arts, spirituality, and social justice. Our anticipated outcomes for the 2021 Symposium include: bringing together a diverse group of intergenerational social justice leaders; developing the internal spiritual, artistic, ethical and moral aspects of activism as well as external approaches of organizing, implementing, and sustaining social justice efforts; and uncovering ways to make lasting change at the individual, community and policy levels.
Proposal Description The Rothko Chapel’s mission is to create opportunities for spiritual growth and dialogue that illuminate our shared humanity and inspire action leading to a world in which all are treated with dignity and respect. Undergirding this mission is an affirmation of the importance of spirituality as the bedrock for individual and community transformation, creative practices and collective action. As a public sacred art space, the Chapel is deeply committed to supporting human rights and serving as a rallying place for all who are concerned with peace and freedom throughout the world.

The Rothko Chapel’s 50th Anniversary programming season offers a celebration of and reflection on the Chapel’s 50 years as a world-renowned site for transformative and inspirational experiences through the arts, spirituality, and social justice. Planned activities in celebration of the Chapel’s 50th Anniversary include:

Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration
January 15, 2021

This season’s MLK Program will be presented virtually and will continue the conversation on race and other topics that were raised during the 2020 Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold Endowed Lecture presented in October with New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Charles Blow. It will also serve as one of the pre-programs prior to the 2021 Symposium focused around civil and human rights. This year’s program will include a short address exploring the possibility of a “more perfect union,” and the role we all must play in creating this new America, followed by a conversation with grass roots activists leading intercultural, interracial, and intergenerational initiatives in the United States that are building this better future.

Inspired by the June 8, 2020 New Yorker article, “How Do We Change America?,” we have extended an invitation to writer, activist, and Princeton professor, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor to serve as the featured speaker for the program, and are in the final stages of research and selection for the accompanying conversationalists and moderator.

Rothko Chapel 50th Anniversary Weekend Celebration
February 25-28, 2021
This four-day celebration will include ceremonies for new and restored facilities, a discussion with the creative team behind the Chapel’s lighting transformation, and a reception honoring the release of a new publication, “Rothko Chapel: An Oasis for Reflection.” On the 50th Anniversary of the Chapel’s dedication, which served as the official opening, we will renew our commitment with an interfaith service including a public celebration and the return of Sufi Dervishes to the Chapel.

Thursday 2/25/2021, 5-6:30 PM
“Rothko Chapel in New Light”
Public Lecture led by renowned art historian Sheldon Nodelman, followed by a moderated panel discussion on the Chapel’s lighting transformation with the creative team: Lighting Designer, George Sexton and Architects Stephen Cassell and Adam Yarinsky of Architecture Research Office.

Saturday 2/27/2021, 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Rothko Chapel Rizzoli Publication Release
Celebrating the release of Rizzoli’s new book, “Rothko Chapel: An Oasis for Reflection”, we will present a moderated discussion exploring the past, present, and future of the Chapel with the authors and historians behind the project: Pamela Smart and Stephen Fox along with project photographer Paul Hester.

Sunday 2/28/2021, 1-3 PM
Celebrating the last 50 years of the Chapel and its continued commitment, we present an interfaith gathering inside the Chapel that reflects the communities that have been involved over the years and will include music, prayers, and readings. This will be followed by the long-awaited return of the Whirling Dervishes outside on Rothko Chapel’s plaza and will end with remarks honoring Barnett Newman’s “Broken Obelisk” and the Chapel’s continued commitment to Human Rights.

Rothko in Jazz
March 11, 2021

In honor of Mark Rothko’s Latvian heritage, Latvian jazz ensemble the Māris Briežkalns Quintet commissioned ten Latvian composers to each create an original jazz composition, arranged and performed by the Quintet. Each composition is created to illustrate the moods and atmosphere evoked by an iconic Rothko painting selected by the composer. Presented inside the Chapel, and broadcast live for viewers everywhere, this performance will be a celebration of Rothko’s unique work and visionary style.

Rothko Chapel 2021 Symposium
Late May 2021

Central to the mission of the Rothko Chapel is the commitment to support those who are marginalized and to strengthen our collective efforts to address the world’s most divisive, urgent, and difficult problems. In recent years, our programming has focused on critical issues with regional, national, and international implications including income inequality, mass incarceration, immigration reform, and racial inequality. In conjunction with the Rothko Chapel’s 50th Anniversary and commitment to furthering social justice in Houston and beyond, the 2021 Symposium will explore the current state of human rights in the United States and how individuals, grassroots initiatives, and policy makers can work together to create a more equitable future. The symposium examines Rothko Chapel’s 50 years of demonstrative work towards addressing critical social justice issues to understand the perception of human rights in this country.

In planning the symposium, we focus on civil and human rights that are particularly at-risk today and how we can become more effective advocates and activists as we work to combat injustice and create a society of equality and equity. The Symposium also provides an intersectional forum for individuals, artists, grassroots communities, and local and national leaders who are on the forefront of the ongoing civil rights struggle. Over the course of the gathering, attendees will have the opportunity for deeper reflection, skill building, and connections to become effective change makers and sustain their vision and passion as they return to working in their communities.

One of the Rothko Chapel’s greatest strengths is the ability to plan and deliver exceptional programming highlighting diverse artistic and spiritual media that focuses on critical issues of the day. A key aspect of the Chapel’s mission to foster dialogue between people across religious, economic, and political spectrums, inspiring action through the power of art and contemplation, and providing a rallying place for all.

Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, paired with the continued need and relevance of the symposium, Rothko Chapel will proceed with a virtual Symposium. Chapel staff is currently working to develop a new virtual format and series of offerings. In line with the Chapel’s prior symposia, this virtual convening provides a forum to explore a wide range of diverse, inter-sectorial issues that include injustices faced by people of color, immigrants, women, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA people; violations of freedom of religion and expression, and the role of the artist in society to address human rights issues. Examples of specific concerns that we will explore include poverty, environmental injustice, the criminal justice system, labor rights, unequal healthcare and educational systems, and risks to journalists speaking out about human rights issues and violations.

As we have seen with earlier virtual programs, such as the Óscar Romero Award Ceremony in June, the expanded access to programming through livestreaming has brought registrants from all over the world. Our 2021 Symposium has the potential to reach global audiences. Our goal is to have a minimal cost registration fee to ensure a diverse array of participants. Support from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will assist us in meeting our goals to provide programming befitting for our 50th Anniversary and offering a quality symposium that will enhance our collective knowledge and action in support of a more just and equitable world.

Our modest endowment funds approximately half of our annual budget, so the Chapel relies on contributions from individuals and foundations to provide full funding for these vibrant and important programs. Rothko Chapel, like many organizations today, are struggling to meet fundraising goals amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, along with meeting budgetary goals due to the increased production costs associated with shifting programming online. A generous $10,000 grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will help ensure that we are able to meet our goals as the Chapel strives to expand our service and outreach to the community, inspiring thousands of people to action in the hope of creating a more just and compassionate world.