Terry Loftis has been described as a “rainmaker” for the arts, and that description certainly fit his time leading The Arts Community Alliance, the organization that doles out grants to area arts organizations and has been helping theaters, dance companies and the like rebuild their foundations post COVID. But these days, the out arts advocate is on the other side of that equation.
“TACA is a grants funder for the cultural arts,” Loftis said recently. “Now I’ve moved from an ecosystem where I was working for the granting organization to working for a grantee.”
Loftis is now the chief advancement and revenue officer for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the largest arts organization in the southwest. The position was created by DSO President and CEO Kim Noltemy, and Loftis assumed his new duties in December.
“I am delighted to join the Dallas Symphony executive team in this important new role,” Loftis stated in a press release announcing his new position. “I’ve been privileged to collaborate with Kim Noltemy for several years, admiring her leadership skills up close. She has set the DSO on a path towards unprecedented growth and innovation, and I look forward to helping fulfill her vision to take the DSO to even greater heights.”
A former Broadway producer and a performing musician and singer, Loftis is no stranger to the arts as an artist. He fuses his knowledge of both the performance side and the administrative side at the DSO where he will oversee marketing, media relations, fundraising, corporate support and guest services teams.
But he broke down his job description in much simpler terms: “I’m responsible for all of development,” he said.
There is a bigger picture here. Loftis shares Noltemy’s vision, and the two are working to move the DSO into a new space of relevance for Dallas and North Texas.
“All the performing arts were facing challenges for audience engagement and re-engagement from the pandemic,” Loftis acknowledged. “So we are taking into account our core audience and asking ‘What is our impact in the community?’
“We are 122 years old. We still will maintain and grow our promise to produce great music and programming. We also want to immerse diverse communities into what we do.”
And that includes the LGBTQ+ population throughout Dallas and the North Texas area. In recent days, for example, the DSO has hosted pre-concert Pride Night events.
But Loftis admits that hasn’t been all his doing.
“I wish I could take full credit for that,” he said with a laugh. “One criticism we had received was that this part of the community that loves the arts wasn’t being marketed to directly. Kim’s vision is to be the DSO for all of Dallas, including LGBTQ communities.”
The organization hired its first vice president of equity, diversity, inclusion and social impact in October in order to build bridges to not only the Dallas queer community, but to persons of color, women and disabled populations. And Loftis takes these initiatives seriously.
“These are not optics,” he said. “We definitely want all these people in the building.”
The DSO recently hosted its Young Professionals Gala that featured “The Music of Tchaikovsky X Drake” concert benefiting its Young Musicians Program. This new kind of programming is an example of the direction Loftis wants to lead the DSO in–even if the project caused a bit of anxiety.
“Drake set to classical music,” Loftis acknowledged. “I was nervous, but we sold out with 75 percent of our audience under 45. So a major part of what we’re doing is to bring these other demographics into what we’re doing.”
Loftis is leading his team to change the narrative and perspective of classical music for Dallas. From there, the DSO’s reputation grows, and, potentially, so do its supporters.
But if he and the DSO are putting Drake in the classical mix for younger audiences, how about some “Drag and Dvorak”? Or a “Rainbow Ravel”?
Loftis laughed as he answered: “We’d be thrilled! I want this organization to look like the community we engage with and do business with and educate as well as the staff and the members on stage,” he said. “To do my job in this fashion is a great opportunity to grow and nurture our next generation of supporters.”
Rich Lopez is a staff writer at Dallas Voice.
This story is made possible with support from Comcast Corporation.