Fahari’s Harold Steward on KERA’s Art&Seek

Harold Steward

In this piece from Thursday, KERA’s Jerome Weeks talked to Harold Steward, artistic director of Fahari Arts Institute, as the organization begins its third season. Opening with two art shows (and a special edition of Queerly Speaking for Dallas Black Pride), Steward discusses Fahari’s confidence going into a new season, and some of that is due to the piece’s mention of the three Dallas Voice Reader’s Choice Awards the organization won. Collectively, the group won for Best Local Arts Organization, Best Theater Director for Steward for Fahari-produced The Bull-Jean Stories, and Q-Roc Ragsdale as Best Actress for the same show.

Steward: “Of course, it’s all based off of popular vote. But you know, we looked at it, and said, ‘Here we are, a volunteer staff, an even more volunteer budget because we don’t know what it is, and how do we come away with three awards when no other organization does?’ Well, that speaks to the people and their beliefs in this . . . What we’re doing is building community.”

We highlighted Steward and Fahari back in January.

—  Rich Lopez

Applause: Chris Heinbaugh: Act 3

Former TV newsman Chris Heinbaugh left the mayor’s office to return to his roots in the arts community

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Being near the stage (including the iconic Wyly Theatre) is nothing new for the former mayoral chief of staff; Heinbaugh once made his living as an actor. | Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Applause Editor

Chris Heinbaugh will not soon forget his first day working for the AT&T Performing Arts Center as its external affairs director. A “patio session” live music show preceded the opening night of Billy Elliot at the Winspear, the Mavs hosted one of their home games on the way to the NBA title, and there was an after-party at Jorge’s where he needed to make an appearance. All without an assistant. Jorge’s is where he is sitting now, margarita in hand, after work.

All that might sound like the kind of first day that might also be your last, but for Heinbaugh, it was completely manageable. As the openly gay chief of staff to Mayor Tom Leppert (and briefly Mayor Dwaine Carraway), Heinbaugh was a fixture in the media, at council meetings and throughout the community; Day 1 at ATTPAC was just another example of doing what needs to be done.

“You hit the ground running in both jobs,” he says with a sly smile. “People ask me, ‘Do you miss City Hall? Do you miss the politics?’ There’s still politics in what I do, interacting with the city, the chambers [of commerce], other arts organizations.” He shrugs and takes another sip of his margarita.

Now, instead of working for the man who runs a huge city, he work for an entity that manages, operates and programs the Wyly, Winspear, Strauss Square and Sammons Park (there are no plans for ATTPAC to operate the City Performance Hall currently under construction, “though we are supportive of what they want”) — also a breathtakingly expansive job.

But working for an arts organization isn’t as far a cry from Heinbaugh’s prior life as it may seem. Before he started working for Leppert, Heinbaugh was on-air talent for WFAA-TV. Although he was hired to be a political reporter, Heinbaugh says he made it a condition of his employment that he got to dip his toe occasionally in arts coverage to “keep my creative juices working.”

“Ray Nasher was one of the first stories I did when I moved here,” he says. “He got me a full tour of his house and he was so passionate about every piece — every piece had a story. And the [performing arts center] was something I started covering immediately. It was a great way to get to know the arts community.”

That was back in 2000, and Heinbaugh ended up in Dallas almost by accident. After 18 years in television journalism, he was ready to quit and start a different career when WFAA tapped him. The flagship station of the Belo Corp., being asked to work for Channel 8 is to TV journos what being called to the majors is for a minor league pitcher:The juiciest plum in his profession. He couldn’t turn it down.

But even journalism was a second career in itself. In a prior life, Heinbaugh received his college degree in theater from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and made his living (barely) as actor for more than a decade.

“That was a long time ago,” he sighs. “Although there’s an episode of Divorce Court out there with me in it. Every so often I still get a residual check for two bucks.” (He also appeared as a bachelor on The Dating Game and won the vacation with the bachelorette, though it was platonic and they stayed in separate rooms.) Eventually Heinbaugh craved the regularity of a steady paycheck and went back to school to study journalism.

Now all those careers are behind him, though his position at ATTPAC didn’t come as a surprise to him, or even feel like much of a change.

“The job was something on my radar,” he admits. Even before Leppert’s sudden resignation as mayor so that he could run for U.S. Senate, Heinbaugh planned to switch careers, and something in the arts seemed a natural extension of both his theatrical and political lives.

“I loved all the things going on in the city, from the Calatrava bridge to the Performing Arts Center, so now I just get to be an advocate.”

Heinbaugh works for ATTPAC, which is a separate entity from the Arts District neighborhood, headed by Veletta Lill.

“I work closely with Veletta,” he says. “I’ve known her since I’ve lived here and she has such a great appreciation for the arts community and the gay community.”

They work together in trying to turn Downtown into its own destination, with sunset movie screenings, outdoor concerts and festivals. Something is working.

“When I moved here there were maybe 200 people living Downtown; now there are 7,000 to 8,000,” he says. “Museum Tower is coming. It’s just a matter of time.”

But he also know what really will serve the ATTPAC is the programming at the halls.

“What’s the real challenge for the resident companies is, they have this tremendous space and the question is, what do they do with it? I think [Dallas Theater Center artistic director] Kevin Moriarty has pushed the envelope, and that’s good for the arts. That’s what’s really exciting. And we’re getting the word out.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Entertainment

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ULTIMATE DRAG DIVA
Jenna Skyy

Hosts monthly GayBingo event at
the Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road
214-526-7171
Caven.com

Since this was the Ultimate Diva! edition of the Readers Voice, it behooves us to explore that aspect of gay culture for whom divadom seems inherent: The drag queen (of the 10 finalists, in fact, eight were drag characters). A diva certainly has attitude — and smarts, and talent, and personality — all of which describes Jenna Skyy, who in a few short years has becomes an essential part of the Dallas scene. But Skyy (aka Joe Hoselton) has something more still: A philosophy. Drag feels almost like a political statement the way Hoselton does it, an act of defiance. An act of Pride. She represents something great about being gay and out and open, whether she’s powering down the runway like Jan Strimple or revealing a costume of Gagaesque flamboyance — or, for that matter, calling numbers at GayBingo, the monthly AIDS fundraiser she co-hosts in the Rose Room — Jenna Skyy makes us happy to be … well, just to be.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

BEST LOCAL ARTS ORGANIZATION
Fahari Arts Institute

214-521-3362
FahariArtsInstitute.com

 

BEST LOCAL SINGER
Anton Shaw

AntonShawMusic.com

 

BEST LOCAL BAND
Anton Shaw and the Reason

AntonShawMusic.com


HORSING AROUND | Uptown Players had a banner season according to Voice readers, having the favorite play, ‘Equus,’ above, and tying itself for best musical.

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION (PLAY)
Equus (Uptown Players)

Performed Feb. 26–March 21 at the
Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION
(MUSICAL) • TIE
Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits (Uptown Players)

Performed Aug. 5–29 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater

Closer to Heaven (Uptown Players)

Performed Oct. 1–24 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL THEATER DIRECTOR
Harold Steward


BEST MAINSTREAM VENUE PRESENTING MUSIC FOR THE GAY MASSES
Gilley’s Music Complex: The Palladium, The Loft, South Side Music Hall, Jack Daniel’s Saloon

GilleysMusic.com

Thanks to the trio of Kris Youmans, Brad Ehney and Nate Binford, the venues of the Gilley’s Music Complex on the Cedars have been very welcoming to the gays. Once Ehney, who is gay, got on board after his stint at the Granada Theater (another queer-friendly venue), he was intent on bringing a contingent of acts geared toward attracting an LGBT audience. Binford and Yeomans, the straight guys, just wanted a full house. It’s worked out beautifully. Lesbian duo Tegan & Sara filled the huge-ass space of the Palladium Ballroom while Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons rocked the shit out of the smaller Loft. The gays then came out en masse for Robyn, packing the mid-sized South Side Music Hall. Upcoming acts of queer interest include MEN, Of Montreal and Vivian Girls. (Upcoming non-gay acts aren’t bad, either: The Avett Brothers, George Clinton and Coheed and Cambria.) These guys prove that gays do like their live music and will step out of the gayborhood to get it.

— Rich Lopez

 

OPEN  AIR | Groups like Middle Ground rock the night air at Jack’s Backyard in Oak Cliff, a favorite venue for enjoying live music. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE • TIE

Jack’s Backyard

2303 Pittman St.
Open daily until 2 a.m.
214-741-3131
JacksBackyardDallas.com

Sue Ellen’s

3014 Throckmorton St.
Open daily 4 p.m–2 a.m.
with after-hours dancing
214-559-0707
Caven.com

It’s notable that these two venues would tie for readers’ favorites, because they represent polarities of live music locales. In one corner is Sue’s, the urban Cedar Springs club where the upstairs Vixin Lounge boasts a quality sound system and decent space for an indoor concert. Jack’s, by contrast, takes the music to the outdoors of Oak Cliff, making a nice nighttime event even better, especially in the warms of Texas spring, summer and autumn. Both venues often book gigs for local regulars like Ciao Bella and Anton Shaw, but each has also featured smaller touring artists like Anne McCue and Hunter Valentine.  If the boys want to get it on the live music game, they have lots of catching up to do. The mostly lady-based venues have a lock on bringing the live sounds to the gayborhoods.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST SMARTPHONE DATING APP
Grindr

Yes, we named this category a “dating app.” Yes, we know for a lot — most? all? — guys who download it, Grindr is more about hookups than long-term relationships. But consider: At one time, admitting you met on Match.com was considered as cringe-worthy as saying you met at a bar while one of you was dancing naked on the pool table. (Oh, right, that’s more a straight-couple thing.) Maybe one day, app-love may become so common it loses any stigma. Anyway, how were we supposed to guess Grindr would win? And truth be told, some of us have found, if not true romance, at least an on-going love connection. And we enjoy chatting with other guys even if we don’t end up as a couple. That’s what dating is, right? Seeing what’s out there and deciding what you want from a partner? Grindr does that. And we’d all be a little lonelier without it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

AIN’T NO BULL | Ragsdale’s standout performance in a one-woman show was enough to win her a lot of fans — enough to name her Dallas’ favorite local actress.

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR (FEMALE)
Q-Roc Ragsdale

Perhaps only Q-Roc Ragsdale could have pulled off her performance in The Bull-Jean Stories last year. Best theater director Harold Steward of Fahari Arts helmed this one-woman show, written by dramatist Sharon Bridgforth. The Bull-Jean Stories takes a look at the struggles of a fictional woman-loving character in the rural South of the 1920s, and her endurance during tough times. Like her character, Ragsdale is a powerful woman using her work as a film director, photographer and actor to stretch the artistic visions of both the black and same-gender-loving communities of Dallas as well as harkening to the strong will and spirit of black LGBTs who have come before her.

— Rich Lopez

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR
(MALE)
Rick Espaillat


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(FEMALE)
Liz Mikel


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(MALE)
Cedric Neal


BEST DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

 

BEST ADULT DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright