Posted November 30, 2020




The Dallas Independent School District awarded its highest honor, the 2020 Superintendent’s Award to the nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center at Thursday night’s Dallas ISD Board of Trustees meeting. For more than a decade, the Center has partnered with Dallas ISD schools providing a range of arts education programs stretching across elementary, middle and high school students.

“Supporting Dallas students through our diverse range of education programs is core to our mission at the Center” said Debbie Storey, President and CEO of AT&T Performing Arts Center. “Study after study proves that access to quality arts education is transformative in terms of academic performance, and it is our pleasure to collaborate with an innovative district like Dallas ISD. We are truly honored to receive this award.”

The Superintendent’s Award recognizes individuals, a business or a group for outstanding, ongoing support on a districtwide basis, including volunteer service, special programs, funding or a combination of all of these. Past recipients include the Pat and Emmitt Smith Foundation and HEB/Central Market. Accepting the award for the Center were Ms. Storey, Center board member Jill B. Louis, chair of its Education and Community Engagement Committee, and Autumn Garrison, Director of Education and Community Engagement.

The Center’s programs have brought students to the Center for live Broadway and dance performances presented in association with TITAS/DanceUnbound, pre-show workshops with professional teaching artists, a conference to teach young women leadership skills through the arts, and hands-on technical training in the backstage arts. And the Center’s Disney Musicals in Schools program has helped establish sustainable theatre programs in elementary schools. Thanks to the generous support of its donors, foundations and corporations, the Center has provided these to the district at no cost.

After the closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Center quickly pivoted to virtual learning, creating video presentations of these programs to help address challenges faced through online learning. This coursework was shared beyond the Center’s regular partner schools, providing arts education to even more students.

“Even as teachers shifted to virtual instruction, the AT&T Performing Arts Center responded by creating innovative resources to keep students engaged in the arts during these challenging times,” said Rachel Harrah, director of Theatre and Dance for Dallas ISD. “The Center’s steadfast commitment to Dallas ISD over the past decade has provided exciting opportunities for thousands of students and further emphasizes their
invaluable partnership.”

This year’s Virtual Stages offerings include programs to help address racial equity and social justice through arts education, backstage technical training videos, a movement series specially designed for students with disabilities, and a virtual monologue competition for high school students.



Open Stages

  • A performing arts access program for high schools and middle schools.
  • Provides free tickets to Broadway shows and dance performances presented by TITAS/DanceUnbound, as well as transportation and preshow workshops with professional teaching artists to enrich the experience.

Backstage Spotlight

  • A technical theatre training course for high school students.
  • Students attend seven on-campus workshops a year lead by the Center’s professional production team.
  • Topics covered include lighting, sound, and scenic design, as well as costumes, props and rigging.

Disney Musicals in Schools

  • An elementary school arts program designed to create sustainable theatre programs in schools.
  • Five schools per year participate in a 17-week residency with professional teaching artists, resulting in the production of a 30-minute Disney musical.
  • Participating schools perform in the annual Student Share Celebration at the Winspear Opera House.

Young Women’s Leadership Conference

  • An annual event that invites high school women to develop leadership skills through the arts.
  • In 2018 and 2019, Former First Lady Michelle Obama headlined the conference.

ArtsBridge – Powered by Toyota

  • A community arts program targeting West Dallas.
  • West Dallas schools receive annual support through free field trips, in-school performances, artist residencies and private coaching sessions.

Master Classes

  • The many world-class artists and arts companies who perform at the Center share their talents with Dallas students.

Special Project Highlights

2014 – 2018: The weekly spring/fall outdoor performance series Sammons Lunch Jam invited the community to enjoy the talents of students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
2018: Seventy-five student musicians from eight Dallas ISD schools performed their favorite pop and rock songs in Annette Strauss Square during the first annual Little Kids Rock Rockfest.
2018: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited 370 Dallas ISD students on her national book tour.
2019: The Center partnered with Dallas ISD on a year-long artist residency featuring Dark Circles Contemporary Dance at Spruce High School.
2019: In partnership with AT&T, the Center worked with student composers and musicians from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to create and record a new piece of music to accompany the ascension of the Moody Foundation Chandelier before performances at the Winspear Opera House.

VIRTUAL STAGES (Launched in Response to the Pandemic)

Open Stages Online

  • Quality online video presentations of live performances featuring some of America’s most celebrated touring artists.

Backstage Spotlight

  • A five-part video version of the Center’s traditional technical theatre training program with TEKS-aligned activities that can be completed from

Virtual Monologue Competition

  • High school students are invited to submit 60 second video monologues for a chance to win a cash prize.

Inclusive Movement Video Series

  • A five-part video series created by Dark Circles Contemporary Dance to engage students with disabilities.

LISTEN – Close Up Concerts of Dallas Originals

  • A new online performance series that highlights singer/songwriters from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts as well as other local talent.


  • The Center has opened its campus to provide socially-distanced school rehearsal space for students in BTWHSPVA performance classes.